Don’t you hate it when an old fear raises its ugly head and snarls at you? Me too.
When I was a little girl living on a ranch, my dad would often warn me about playing near the propane tank that supplied our home with needed fuel.
“Don’t play around that tank, it is highly explosive,” he’d say. Which, of course, put visions of a massive fireball in my mind and expertly steered me clear of the scary propane tank.
Such a tank wasn’t necessary when Tom and I lived in Atascadero for 43 years. The city provided a gas line right up to our home, so I didn’t concern myself with propane or its tanks anymore.
When we moved back to the ranch I grew up on I still didn’t notice the propane tank much. It conveniently sat on a leaf covered, cement slab under an old oak tree in the corner of the yard.
Until I set about raking up the leaves under that old oak this week.
The neighborhood gang of ground squirrels had built an entire underground complex right under the propane cement slab.
The slab was tilted with the right side about three inches lower than the left side.
You can see where my imagination is going with this, right?
THOUGHT >>> “Oh-my-gosh! This tank could slide off the slab ANY minute!”
IMAGES >>> The tank quickly sliding more to the right. >>> If it does roll immediately, the winter rains come and soften the ground. >>> The ground squirrel apartment complex collapses under the weight of the tank, and the propane tank rolls over onto its pipes causing a colossal fireball. >>> The fire consumes the fallen leaves, jumping up the oak tree and spreading through our canyon. >>>
>>> The mental scene now plays back videos of news reports on the many California wildfires with flames shooting into the sky, consuming vegetation, and destroying homes throughout our golden state.
Thanks for the trigger, Dad.
We pay too much attention to our scary imaginations. We think about what is playing on our mental movie screen and engage with the fear that starts snarling loudly.
(Don’t tell me you never do that, because I know you do. You’re human.)
As a child, I chose to dwell on the images given to me by my Dad. It was helpful in that I learned to avoid the propane tank.
Fear does that; it leads to action—though not always the right action.
…you don’t always think clearly when embracing fear with your thoughts and imagination.
Your mental action usually chooses more scary thoughts concerning the fear. Then you make the wrong choices.
Like trying to control something that isn’t yours to control.
Think about your adult children. When they’re hurting—doing something that isn’t healthy for them or caught in a bad relationship or suffering with an illness, what do you do?
You picture the worse case scenario, and then you decorate that image with more fearful thoughts. And your anxiety grows.
So you talk to your child.
You “advise” him or her, sharing your counsel. Maybe you even step in uninvited to “help” them solve the problem by arranging certain things for them.
And then you might get a little pushy with your words since they aren’t “hearing” you.
Not the best recipe for strong relationships or living your faith, is it?
Fear can be a great signal that we need to back away from the fear and embrace concern. Our problem is real, but fear isn’t the best way to handle it.
A concern, on the other hand…
- Acknowledges the start of your scary thoughts and mental images but turns aside from their darkness.
- Sets you down on the Father’s lap and reminds you that you are secure in His love, and fear is not allowed where His love reigns.
- Encourages you to dwell in the Father’s love, safe from fear because the love of the Father is your true identity.
Godly concern motivates the right kind of action and resolution.
It refuses to let fear be your identity—what you are known for.
When concerned you choose to picture yourself safe in the Father’s love, and from that secure place, you are calm enough to listen for His direction.
Soaking in that love, you’re able to wisely choose a mental and emotional response to the scary situation facing you.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it. But it isn’t.
You KNOW that God’s perfect love casts out fear, but that’s not your experience.
It takes practice to be so saturated with the Father’s love for you that it pushes the darkness of fear away.
We’ll talk a little bit more about how to do this in my next story.
For now, the rest of my propane story…
I used the initial fear as a signal and chose to sit in the Father’s lap.
He suggested I call the propane company.
I discovered that as a service call, they would come out to my house, turn off the propane, lift the tank off of the slap, set it down someplace safe, lift the slab up and fill all those ground squirrel apartments with dirt. Replace the slab. Then the tank would be replaced on the stable, flat slab.
Concern led me to rest in the Father’s love which supplied a wise course of action.
The propane company arrives this morning.
Today, begin to notice when you start to feel fear and jot down what your thoughts are telling you.
Find a quiet moment to center yourself in the Father’s love.
Once you feel safe, ask Him to make your path clear and straight through the fear. Let Him counsel on how to handle your scary situation.
I’ll touch base with you soon with a quick tip on how to remain in the Father’s secure place of love.
Remember, fear doesn’t look good on you. It’s not who you are anymore. Fear is the old you, not the new you in Christ.
For more posts on discarding fear, see:
How to Leave a Problem in God’s Hands and Not Steal it Back: How does one put a problem in God’s hands and not steal it right back? Here are four tips on how to trust God with your situation and not worry.
Facing Fear and Winning: Have you ever let fear hold you back from a fun time or new adventure? Maybe without realizing it? We all do it at times and, as a result, miss out on life!