Thursday, November 3, 2011

Clean Up on Aisle Faith

In the course of doing a lot of marital counseling over the years, I’ve heard some rather amazing stories about discord in marriage.  Almost universally, the problem dissolves into the ancient tension between Faith and Fear.  Here’s a spectacular example:

A young man, not yet 30 years old, was on his THIRD marriage.  One morning, as he was headed out the door for work, he noticed a spot on the linoleum in the kitchen.  He mentioned to his wife that there was a spot on the floor and …here it comes… that she should clean up that spot – and soon.  Arriving back home at the end of a hard day’s work, the husband noticed that the spot was still on the floor.  He did what any right-thinking, red-blooded, American male would do in that circumstance – he launched in to an all-out, soul-crushing, marriage-killing assault on his wife.  I was stupefied.  I asked him why he let a spot on the floor impact his marriage so negatively.  His honest response, “If I can’t trust my wife to clean up a spot in the floor, how can I trust her to stay married to me?”

Let that soak in while we rush to our Sponsor for some soul-cleansing words:
And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.  And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:39-41)
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Whether we follow Jesus or not, all humans are caught up in this tension between Faith and Fear.  For some reason, God allowed those polarities to come into our lives.  AND we also know that God wishes to inspire our faith.  He does not want us to live in fear and desperation.  We have to choose where our hearts will guide us – toward fear or toward faith.  Hang tightly to these two thoughts.
All fear is a shadow of the fear of death.
Faith drives out fear.
Followers of Jesus have confidence that God is bigger than our circumstances.  Consider King David.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…. (Psalm 23:3)  Let me caution all of us, David didn’t decide to trust God when he realized the threat of death all around him in the valley.  David, and followers of Jesus, trust God’s protection BEFORE the danger shows up.

Back to SpotMan.  This young man actually had a good heart – I think.  He had decided, however, to live his life in slavery to fear rather than the freedom of faith.  When I heard his tale of woe, I said to him soberly and frankly, “You are a damn fool.”  Maybe you don’t care for your pastor to be so blunt or coarse, but that is what he needed to hear.  How would you describe someone who would throw away the chance of a good marriage with a wonderful woman over a spot on the floor?  Maybe my words were not blunt enough… he’s now on his fourth marriage and it is on the rocks, as well.  (He should have read this article.)

My heart aches for everyone who is bound by fear.  Fear and Faith are two of the prominent themes in this blog because they describe the nature of our lives on earth.  Followers of Jesus are not exempt from this tension, but our faith must lead us away from reacting to life’s unpleasant moments with fear.

Clark H Smith

ps – I’ll bet you know someone who is struggle in the bondage of fear.  Would you share this post with them.  At the least, click the Facebook logo below and share this post with your world.  You’ll be doing someone a great favor.

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