Halloween week is upon us, the week when everyone wants to experience a healthy dose of fear. We dress up in scary costumes and parade our kids around after dark, visiting haunted houses and homes decorated like graveyards with spooky sounds drifting from open windows.
There’s something about being afraid, whether it’s while watching a scary movie (I’m a sucker for another viewing of Halloween) or participating in a ghost tour, that gives us an exhilarating thrill. But being in a constant state of fear is not the way we are meant to live our lives.
I’ve written before about the passages in the Bible which implore and even demand that we have no fear and about not letting fear to stop you from living, but I think it warrants repeating. There is something wrong, even dangerous, in allowing fear to have power over us and the way we live.
Over the past two years, I’ve witnessed the power of fear. For some, this is a new and alarming feeling. For others, living in fear is what they’ve done their entire lives–the fear of rejection, the fear of abandonment, the fear of missing out, of failing, of making the wrong choices. It seems that more and more people are turning to fear rather than hope, and some are completely losing themselves in the process.
I often hear people say, “I listen, but I never hear the voice of God” or “I just don’t know what God wants from me” or even “I can’t find my purpose in life.” After much prayer and introspection about what to say to them, I’ve realized that the problem isn’t that they don’t hear God or don’t understand Him or can’t find their purpose. I believe that the problem is a lack of trust in God.
St. Francis de Sales said, “Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” In other words, God has gotten you this far, even if you haven’t realized it until this moment, and God will continue to give you what you need to go on. Padre Pio was more to the point when he said, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless.”
You can spend all day worrying, but will it get you anywhere? Will it change anything? Will your life or the lives of those around you be any better after hours of worrying about something? Wouldn’t it be better to know and trust that no matter what happens, you can handle it, that you have the ability to face the worst and still be okay?
We are not made for fear or worry. Psalm 146:5 tells us, “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”
This past April, Pope Francis wrote, “God never abandons his people; he is always close to them, especially when sorrow is most present.” You can substitute the word “sorrow” for any number of words, including worry, anxiety, hopelessness, or fear. The key is to allow God into your life, to trust him and trust that he is there for you, always.
Trust is not the same as optimism; it is not the same as living a Pollyanna-like existence. Trust is to be willing to abandon everything to God, to let him take control, to allow him to take your burdens upon himself. It is to follow the old mantra, Let go, and let God.
Jesus told us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30). God wants to relieve us of our fears and our worries, of all those things that are weighing us down and burdening us. He wants us to trust Him enough to let Him carry our load.
If you are always worried; if you live in fear; if you lack trust in human beings and don’t know where to look for help; if you don’t know how to live a life of joy and peace; if you don’t hear the voice of God, turn your heart, your mind, and your whole being toward God. Let Him in. Trust Him to make things better, to lead you through the pain and hard times, to help you not to fear. St. Paul declared that believers are “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). We have been set free from our chains of worry, fear, despair, and all other feelings that weigh us down. We have been recreated through grace when our anxieties hung on the cross. All we need to do is trust.
If you don’t know where to begin, start at the bottom. Kneel or sit before the Lord. Put your cares aside and humble yourself at His feet. Don’t go to Him with fear or worry. Don’t beg or plead for something to happen or not happen. Rather, open your heart and mind, and say to the Lord, “Jesus, I trust in you.” He will hear you. He will answer you. He will get you through this. Focus not on your fears but on your trust in God, and let Him teach you how to put all your worries in Him. Humbling yourself before Him, listening to His word, and following His ways will build your trust in Him. Remember the words Jesus said at the home of his friends in Bethany, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
Let trust, not fear, be your guide.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two will be out in early 2022. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines, is now available in all formats.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021).
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