A Life I Can Live With

I don’t need to tell you that we live in an uncertain world with much to fear and worry about, if we choose to do so. And I must admit that I make that choice, more often than not. I want to be like my son, who’s rarely afraid and even says, “I think fear is one of the dumbest feelings there is.” He doesn’t say it to put me down; he’s simply tougher and more courageous than I am. I need to take a lesson from him because a life of doing nothing is, obviously, no life at all.
Martin Luther King Jr. talked about those times when we have a great opportunity before us, perhaps to stand up for a great principle or cause, but we refuse to do anything because we’re afraid. We want to stay alive longer, or we don’t want to lose our job, or we’re afraid we’ll be criticized, or we may even have a legitimate fear of physical harm or death. As a result, we refuse to take a stand. For that type of situation, King said the following:
Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
These words convict me, since I frequently allow fear to control me or paralyze me or otherwise prevent me from doing things I really want to do. But if I avoid living for fear of dying, am I really living at all?
What makes this worse is that I’m well aware of the fact that worry changes nothing, and that most of my fears are over things that will never occur. Summarized one way, here’s a breakdown of the things over which we fret:
  • 40% never happen
  • 30% regard unchangeable deeds of the past
  • 12% focus on the opinions of others that cannot be controlled
  • 10% center on personal health, which only worsens as we worry about it
  • 8% concern real problems that we can influence
I’m no math whiz, but that sounds like 92% of my fears and worries are pointless! But can I (or will I) live like that’s true, while also understanding that even my legitimate fears should not keep me from truly living? Can I avoid “dying” while I’m still alive?
I believe I can, if I remember and trust in what God said in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I also need to live out the solution to worry, found in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I will never rid myself of fear, but God can help me live in spite of my fear. He is with me no matter where I am, and He wants to take on my worries and give me the peace and strength that comes only from Him. Now that’s a life I can live with!
Troy Burns