Running Scared

An excerpt from Ed Welch’s book Running Scared. I didn’t realize how long this was until I typed it out. So if you only have time to read a little, start with the last 2 paragraphs. But I really encourage you to read all of it…actually, reading the whole book is preferred! 🙂

A Proposal

“You can’t blame fear for wanting a place of peace and rest, and wanting it fast. The odd thing is that fear and anxiety are running away from something, but they don’t know what to run to. They know danger, but they don’t know where to find peace and rest. If fear slows down for a minute, it realizes that peace and rest can only reside in someone rather than something, in people rather than pills. A fearful child wants to sleep with her parents. On a walk through dark woods, our fears ebb in the presence of a companion–in a pinch, we will even settle for a small dog. Over the short run, anything alive will do, but we prefer an actual person who is big and strong. If the threat is to our bank account, we prefer someone rich. If our sense of well-being is at risk, we want someone who loves and affirms. Fear calls out for a person bigger than ourselves.

Then, just as fear and anxiety are about to embrace another human being who almost fits the bill, they remember that people are unreliable. Fear quickly hits the default switch and opts for independence, control, and self-protection. The problem is that our worries and fears remind us of our own smallness, so to rely on ourselves takes us back to where we started. But what else can we do?

At this apparent cul-de-sac we find God. If you are jaded because you feel as though God has been unreliable, look at it this way: There are no other choices. Other people can’t quite be trusted, and we are not in control. That limits the field to God himself. Not gods, only God. A pantheon of gods will not do, because none of them may have jurisdiction over your particular dilemma. The greatest possibility for rest and comfort lies in the knowledge of the true God. And who can resist the One whose self-given name is Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Deliverer, Lord of Hosts, Rock of Ages, Faithful One, and Good Shepherd? Don’t forget, fear’s interpretations are not always to be trusted. You might feel abandoned so you believe you are abandoned. But you don’t know the entire story.

So here is the proposal: let fear point us to the knowledge of God, and let the Spirit of God, by way of Scripture, teach us the knowledge of God. When fear is the problem, our typical approach is to follow action steps. If we are on our spiritual game, we can pray with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6), we can cast our cares on him (1 Peter 5:7), or we can heed his command to not be afraid. These are good things, but they are responses to our growing knowledge of God. The knowledge of God comes first. Apart from this personal knowledge, Scriptural advice is no different from the thought stoppage or imaginary vacations that secular treatments offer.

If fear is a personal matter, we must set off to know a person” (63-64).


11 thoughts on “Running Scared

  1. I read the whole thing and found it rich with truth, in particular, the last sentence. We must not busy ourselves with actions that are seemingly “Christian” but devoid of knowing God…but rather focus first on knowing Him as a person. In important distinction. Another amazing excerpt, Lisbeth. Is this for one of your classes?

    1. Glad it touched you, sis! Actions can seem so good, and they can help, but if they’re actions done in our own strength, without knowing the Holy One, they’ll fall flat. Yes, this book is for my Problems and Procedures class with Ed Welch!

  2. Lisbeth, a good one for reflection on Sunday afternoon. I like the slight personification of fear and anxiety and for you sharing how they don’t know where to run. Yes, we need to run to the only one who can help. i’m reminded of Peter saying : to whom should we go? (John 6:67-68). And, your point at the end of us needing to personally know God in order for the scripture to help is a good point. Very good! Oh, to know him more! Thanks for sharing!
    P.S. Thanks for the reference to Toby, I’m sure he was the small dog you were referring to 😉

    1. Haha! Actually, I wish I wrote this, but these are Ed Welch’s words. But I’m sure Toby would be a dog that would ease the fear on a walk late at night! Toby’s quite a force to be reckoned with! 🙂
      I also like the personification of fear and anxiety…the image of them running wildly is is so true to my personal experience.

  3. Lisbeth,
    This has some really good stuff in it–with the ultimate counsel to let the Holy Spirit have his way and help the hound of heaven (a Toby-like hero on four paws and wings) give us the knowing of God through His Word.

  4. There is so much in this quote to chew on! Thinking about how to incorporate some of these concepts with student nurses in a secular academic setting! Thanks for sharing this resource! ❤

    1. So true, Marms! Lots to chew on. It’s great for me to come back to it a month later and have it hit me anew. It takes work to convey God’s truth to different groups of people, but if anyone can reach nurses, it’s you, the best nurse out there in my book!

  5. Thanks Lisbeth. When Scott and I were newlyweds, I move to the rural town on Chester, NJ where his family had lived since 1699. Yeah, I got those numbers right! He traveled a lot and truth be told, I was a bit of a city girl so the dark night and unlocked doors were strange to me. One night I got out of bed to see if the door was locked, which had become a habit when I was alone, and the Spirit of God whispered in my ear, “So what makes you think Scott can protect you?” It rocked my world! Without ever realizing it, I had come to depend on my husband to be what only God could be and it happened so fast that I didn’t even notice! I am grateful that God loved me enough to point out the error of my thinking – which could have trickled into so many more areas that the physical safety of our home. The Lord is my provider, healer, confident and so much more- roles that we should never grant to any human. After all, when people are big, God is small! XOXO

    1. That’s such a powerful example of how God taught you to learn and depend on Him more than Scott! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Yes, thank you Nancy for sharing this specific example of starting to “embrace another human being who almost fits the bill…”! Not only do I see that temptation with friends, but I can imagine it’s much more difficult with a spouse. Yet, it’s encouraging to see how God is faithful to lead us and slightly correct us when we need it. And I love your reference to the book “When People Are Big and God Is Small!” God is continuing to help me with my fear of man. Thanks for you thoughtful comments, Nancy! xoxo

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