Fifth in the series on Fear Not in an age of fear and anxiety.
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
Genesis 15:1, NKJV
Too Tired to Spend Time with God?
So often I listen to the lie in my head that I need more sleep and then fall in the trap of not spending time with God. How many years of following Jesus? Almost four decades. I know better. I do. And I fully intend to spend time with Jesus first thing… At night I pray and commit to God I'll spend time with Him in the morning. (He loves me regardless and keeps no scorecard but I know (I mean I KNOW) life is better when I sit with Jesus before rushing into my day). Back to my night prayer. I'll set my alarm and then tell God, "Wake me up earlier if you want me to spend more time with you." Satisfied with my prayer, I feel good and sleep well. Of course He wakes me early... and the negotiations start. What time is it? 5:30 am! I really need sleep. Is this God waking me? "God, do you really want me to get up now or do you want me to sleep more?" I hear "sleep" and decide I'll just pray in bed first. Zzzzzzzz
Then the alarm startles me into consciousness and I immediately know: This was a mistake. I missed out! Argh. I can't go back and undo this stupid decision. Now I only have a few minutes to be with Jesus. Why did I do this again? Surely Satan wouldn't wake me early to spend time with the LORD. Of course it was God. Duh! Then I recommit: Tomorrow I'll take the extra time, no excuses!
With the decision to choose sleep over Jesus my anxiety and fears increase. My fear of not getting enough sleep resulted in less peace and more fear. Sometimes this pattern happens multiple times a week I end up feeling increasingly more tired and anxious (not more rested and calm!).
Disobedience to God increases fear
My friend Ardis, a fellow blogger, sent me a link to Rick Warren's devotional on fear increasing when we refuse to obey God. Timely! Pastor Rick writes, "Fear grows every time you refuse to do what God wants you to do. Eventually, you'll feel cornered. And when fear grows, your life shrinks."
Who needs more fear? Not me. And, I've experienced when I give in to fear, it grows. Then I work to avoid fear, giving fear greater power. Fearing fear leads to greater fear. Not a good cycle!
Disobedience to God's revealed will increases fear. Why? Two reasons occur to me (there could be many more reasons than these):
- When we disobey God we agree with the enemy of our soul, Satan. He wants us to disobey. He wants us away from God's protective power. He seeks to isolate us so he can trap us and destroy us.
- When we disobey God He pursues us. The Lord loves us enough to make us uncomfortable. This Holy Spirit discomfort may feel like fear but actually may be His convicting Presence to lead us back to God, obedience and blessing.
With God, "Fear Not!"
To live in peace and without the tyranny of fear, we need God. Every day. So often I surrender to the temptation to sleep more and then rush into my day on my own. The inevitable outcome includes frustration, stress and disappointment.
The only antidote to a life of fear is a life with God. As He promised Abram (this is before God gave him his new name Abraham), "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” God Himself is our reward. His Presence is the antidote to fear. Not work. Not His blessings. Not a ritual. Not adhering to religious rules. Just God: Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. Time in His Presence.
What about you? Do you choose sleep over life change with God? Have you found God's Presence to be the answer to, well, everything? Do you know how to be in His Presence?
More on time with God next post.