Fight, flight or what?

Keep cool! Sit still.

Today we celebrate Independence Day by putting up uncoordinated curtains in all our south-facing windows, moving the TV out of the living room to a cooler spot, strategically placing fans in the hall to lift the cooler air out of the basement and by trying not to move very much. This Midwest heatwave has come against all creatures, man and beast, causing us to scurry deeper into our dens, barricading ourselves against Mother Nature. Here’s hoping we’ll keep her out and keep the utility bill under $200.

Sometimes scurrying further into the den is the smartest policy. At other times, the battle must be joined–the old “fight or flight” response. My default response tends to be flight–I prefer to run away and keep looking back over my shoulder rather than fight and receive (what appears to me to be) certain injury. But what happens when you just run continually? Fear becomes a habit and looking over your shoulder puts a permanent kink in the neck of your psyche. When this happens, “overcoming fear” doesn’t seem possible–at least not for me. How then do you stop running, burrowing?

Well, I don’t pretend to have the solution, but something that has worked recently for me is this–to slip beneath the fear. I suppose common sense would say that beneath fear there is more fear, but that’s not the case for me. I think slipping beneath fear is like giving it up, relinquishing it. Sound terrifying? Yep, it is, kind of like going underwater and not knowing when you’ll take your next breath. But the Lord is in that place. He reminds me to breathe (“you are not going to get a lungful of water”), He makes me relax in a dangerous but amazingly tranquil place. Stop running. Stop fighting that foe you’ve given too much power to. Maybe you need to just stay where you are, despite the seemly encroaching danger and let God keep you safe.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:1-3

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