• Biblical Models for Handling Anxiety

    Posted on October 7th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 2: Sentry Duty

    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk

     

    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

     
    A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words

     

    Picture the difference between anger, anxiety, and vigilant faith like this:

     

    *Anger: The Fight Response to Threat—Attack: Vigilante Justice.

     

    Taking matters into my own hands.

     

    *Anxiety: The Flight Response to Threat—Retreat: Vigil without Action.

     

    Taking my safety into my own hands. “If I worry enough, at least I feel as if I have some control.”

     

    *Vigilance: The Faith Response to Threat—Befriend and Tend (Engage and Protect): Vigorous Response.

     

    Taking the safety of myself and others and surrendering it to God’s hands while I take a stand for God’s plan. It is befriending and tending to others even when I am threatened.

     

    Called to Sentry Duty

     

    The root “vig” relates to sentry. God built into our brains a sentry. A sentinel. Adam went off sentry duty when he allowed his wife to be attacked by Satan without intervening. He failed to use his vigor—his energy, force, power given to him from God to “keep the garden” and to “cleave to his wife.”

     

    Where does fear fit into this equation? We know that fear is a God-given emotion. We are called to fear God. Why did God create us with a capacity to fear, and how does fear run amok?

     

    Fear is our response to uncertainty about our resources in the face of danger. We are assaulted by a force that overwhelms us. Then we are compelled to face that we are helpless and that ultimately our safety is out of our control. Faith faces this reality by trusting in the unseen reality of a God who cares and controls. Fear compels me to face my neediness.

     

    Anxiety is fear without faith. It is vigilance run amok. We scan the horizon constantly, fearfully, but without ever taking action or responsibility. And without clinging to God.

     

    Biblical Models

     

    Jesus models constructive vigilance in the garden. He faced His dread of death (Matthew 26:39). And He placed faith in His Father’s good heart and strong hands (Matthew 26:39).

     

    Jesus’ disciples modeled destructive fear and anxiety. Peter at one point chose the fight response of vigilante justice—cutting off an ear! At another point Peter chose the flight response of vigil without action—denying the Lord three times. All of the disciples displayed the inability to hold a vigil. “Could you not keep vigil with me one hour?”

     

    Faith or Fear?

     

    Healthy vigilance and a godly response to fear prompt us to relationship: trusting God with faith. And it prompts us to impact: protecting others through vigilance with vigor.

     

    Abnormal, unhealthy, sinful anxiety prompts us to retreat from relationship: we turn to inward scanning without relational trust in God. And it prompts us to retreat from impact: we experience vigilance without vigor as we self-protect instead of lovingly and strongly protecting others.

     

    Fear of God roots us in the essence of existence not in the externals of our situation. Where does fear drive us? To protect ourselves through the flight response of anxiety or the fight response of anger? Or to God, our Protector who empowers us to tend and befriend (“Guard the garden!”)?

     

    The Rest of the Story

     

    Join us again tomorrow when we explore how to move From Fear to Faith by Love.

  • Worriers or Warriors

    Posted on October 7th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 1: Worriers or Warriors 

    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love?

    Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

    God intended for us to experience a mood that is the “flip side” of anxiety. If we are to understand the “disorder” of anxiety, we must understand the “order” that sin has disordered. What normal, healthy, God-given process has become perturbed in anxiety?

    Vigilance

    Anxiety is vigilance out of control and out of context. God designed us with the mood of vigilance which is meant to move us to relationship and impact. With vigilance, God puts us in fast motion, urges us to act quickly in response to a life threat.

    Anxiety is “stuck vigilance.” Vigilance is proper, constructive concern for the well-being of others, the world, and self. Anxiety is vigilance minus faith in the Father. Vigilance results in tend and befriend behavior. Anxiety results in flight or fight behavior.

    Anxiety is vigilance that does not turn us back to trust. It leads us to a toxic scanning of our environment. God says, “Be vigilant! Be alert! Take your stand, and having done all, stand firm! Quit ye like men!”

    Anxiety says, “What if? I can’t handle this! I have to run. I have to fight. I have to self-protect!” Anxiety is scanning without standing. Instead of scanning and standing, we scan, and scan, and scan… It is continual worry. Continued “what if?” thinking and feeling.

    The Family Tree of Anxiety

    Vigilant faith, anxiety, and anger are cousins. Their family tree? Vigor, from which we gain three related words: vigilante, vigil, and vigorous. Anxiety and anger involve vigilance without faith and without love. They are non-trust, non-relational responses to threat.

    Vigilance, on the other hand, is a trust, relational response to threat. It relates to others by protecting the person being threatened. It relates to others by engaging, challenging, confronting (not attacking) the person doing the threatening. It relates to God by trusting that what He calls me to do, He equips me to fulfill.

     

    In God’s Kingdom, we are either worriers or warriors!

     

    The Rest of the Story

     

    Return tomorrow when we picture the differences between flight, fight, and faith. We’ll also explore positive and negative examples in the Bible of vigilance versus anxiety.