別讓恐懼癱瘓你

By: Jim Mathis

我兒時的一個鄰居比爾摩爾最近去世了,享年97歲。在我成長的日子裡,他一直住在我們家對街。他向我們家租了一些土地來當作牧場養他的乳牛。

他的去世讓我想起我六、七歲的時候,我的表哥巴比和我有一次決定要抄近路,穿過比爾的牧場到我們最喜歡的釣魚場去。當時比爾養了一隻黑色的大鬥牛犬來保護他的牧場。當這隻鬥牛犬看到我們侵入牠的領域,牠發怒了,追著我們跑想把我們趕走。

巴比和我沒命地跑,然後躲在鐵線圍欄的下面。我們沒有回頭去看這隻鬥牛犬離我們多近,因為牠的吠叫和咆哮迫使我們不停往前跑,我只記得我們嚇得半死。或許是因為我們看太多卡通,裡面的鬥牛犬總是呼著熱氣虎視眈眈。但是恐懼(合理的恐懼)使我們遠離那個牧場。

恐懼可以是一個很好的推手,讓我們躲避和遠離危險,尋找安全。心理學家告訴我們「打或逃」的本能,在緊急的時候相當有用。但同時恐懼可能也會使人變得衰弱。它會阻礙我們去追求自己的夢想、離開一個糟糕的工作、或是在工作和每天的生活當中嘗試不一樣的想法。

我最近看到一個標誌上寫著:創造力的起頭是戰勝恐懼和失敗。每一個偉大的成就之所以能成就,在某個程度上都是因為克服了恐懼:害怕失敗的恐懼。害怕去挑戰的恐懼遠比我們想像大得多:害怕離開我們舒適區去外面冒險;害怕「以前從沒有人做過!」

聖經談了很多關於「害怕」,認定它是人類最原始的情緒之一。聖經說,如果我們把自己信心交在神的手中,害怕是不必要的。例如:

神保證我們不是孤單的 我們有時會因為孤單而害怕,害怕必須要自己去面對困難和挑戰。神卻說我們不孤單。祂說:「你不要害怕,因為我與你同在;不要驚惶,因為我是你的 神。」(以賽亞書41章10節a)

神保證會幫助我們。當你被恐懼淹沒的時候,你會向誰求救?神要我們回轉向祂。「我必堅固你,我必幫助你;我必用我公義的右手扶持你。」(以賽亞書41章10節b)

神的愛和關心永遠都在。當我們相信神永恆的愛和保護時,就能面對我們的恐懼。「愛裏沒有懼怕;愛既完全,就把懼怕除去。因為懼怕裏含著刑罰,懼怕的人在愛裏未得完全。」(約翰一書4章18節)

無論我們的恐懼是真的或是想像出來的(就像那隻鬥牛犬一樣,裝腔作勢或是真的在後頭追著我們),我們必須面對我們的狀況和克服恐懼。如果神給我們一個遠大的目標或是渴望,我們就相信祂會帶領我們並且供應我們去完成它。

吉姆.馬提斯在堪薩斯州陸路公園市經營一家照相館。他的專長是商業和影劇界人像。他也經營一所攝影學校。他還寫了一本書「一般民眾的高度攝影表現」,那是一本有關數位攝影的書。他曾是一家咖啡店的經理,也曾是CBMC在堪薩斯州堪薩斯市和密蘇里州堪薩斯市的執行主任。

省思/討論題目
你遇見過最令人恐懼的狀況是什麼?當時你是如何回應的? 在日常的生活中,在工作、家庭或是你個人方面,你最害怕的是什麼? 你覺得恐懼會帶給你往前進的動機,讓你工作更認真;或是耗損你讓你沒有辦法做事?解釋一下你的答案。 你覺得聖經裡提到關於恐懼和神的保證,是否帶給你安慰和鼓勵?如果你手上有聖經,想要知道更多關於這個主題的經節,請參考:詩篇111篇10節;箴言1章7節、3章25-26節;耶利米書29章11-13節;路加福音 12章32-34節;提摩太後書1章7節

DO NOT ALLOW FEAR TO DISABLE YOU
By Jim Mathis

A neighbor of mine during my childhood, Bill Moore, died recently. He was 97. Bill lived across the road from us during the entire time I was growing up. For several years Bill rented land from my family to use as a pasture for some of his dairy cows.

His passing reminded me of a day when I was about 6 or 7 years old, the day my cousin Bobby and I decided to take a shortcut through the pasture heading for our favorite fishing hole. Bill Moore had a big, old, mean bull that was very protective of his pasture. When the bull saw us cutting across “his land,” he apparently did not think that was a good idea, so he decided to chase us off.

Bobby and I ran as fast as we could and dove under a barbed wire fence to safety. I do not recall looking back to see how close the bull came to us, or if the sound of his snorting and pawing the ground got us moving, but I know we were scared to death. Maybe we had watched too many cartoons featuring fire-breathing, aggressive bulls. But fear – in this case, healthy fear – propelled us out of the pasture.

Fear can be a great motivator, causing us to avoid or flee from danger, and encouraging us to actively seek safety. Psychologists talk about the “fight or flight instinct”; in dangerous times that proves useful. At the same time, fear can be very debilitating. It can keep us from following our dreams, taking the initiative to resign from a lousy job, or finding the motivation to try something different at work or in our daily lives.

I saw a sign recently that said overcoming fear of failure is the beginning of creativity. Every great accomplishment has been preceded, to one degree or another, by overcoming fear: The fear of failure. Fear of ridicule. Fear of discovering the challenge is much greater than we anticipated. Fear of venturing outside of our comfort zones. Fear of realizing, “No one has ever done this before!”

The Bible talks a lot about fear, recognizing it as one of the most basic, common human emotions. It tells us much of our fear is unnecessary, as long as we place our trust in God and His resources. For instance:

Assurance we are not alone. One reason we feel fearful is the feeling of isolation, that we are facing challenges and obstacles by ourselves. God says that is not true. He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God…” (Isaiah 41:10a).

Assurance of God”s help. Overcome by fear, where do you turn? God asks us to turn to Him. “…I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10b).

Assurance of God”s love and concern. When we trust in God”s unfailing love and protection, we can face our fears head-on. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

Whether our fears are real or imagined, whether the bull is bluffing or he really is after us, we need to accurately access the situation, face and overcome our fears, and follow our dreams. If God has given us an ambitious goal or desire, we can trust Him to guide us and provide the resources to get it done.

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
What has been the most fearful situation you have ever encountered? How did you respond to this situation? On an everyday basis, what are your greatest fears – at work, at home, or in your personal activities? Have you found fear to be more motivating, causing you to try or work harder, or debilitating, sometimes paralyzing you from doing anything? Explain your answer. Do you find comfort or encouragement from promises in the Bible about fear and trusting in God”s intervention? Why or why not?If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7, 3:25-26; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Luke 12:32-34; 2 Timothy 1:7

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