Fear and Broccoli Water

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Stay with me here. I can make this work!

I came downstairs the other morning and smelled it. Something was rotting. I walked into my kitchen and the smell got worse. Then I saw them; the hand wash dishes. I don’t know if you’re like me, but if you are you will load the dishwasher and unload the dishwasher several times before you get tired of seeing the things in the sink that need to be washed by hand. We have several kinds of dishes that can’t be put in the dishwasher. Sometimes it’s an oversized pan and sometimes it’s a water bottle that will melt in the heat of the dishwasher. I put these dishes to the side and sometimes they get left for a day or so. I had quite the pile and on the surface it didn’t look bad, but underneath the stack of hand wash dishes was a pan that I had used for searing broccoli. It was actually meant for the dishwasher, but had gotten buried by the hand wash items. Few things smell worse than finding a pan with rotting broccoli water. Broccoli is good. Rotting broccoli water is bad, evil and, dare I say it, heinous.

This is how I view fear. Fear is good. Fear gives us wisdom. Sometimes we need to face the fear and have the faith to push through. Fear can also tell us we are headed in the wrong direction. In those times we need to listen to our fear and walk away from the situation before we do something dumb or dangerous.

When our fear gets the best of us we start to be like that broccoli water. We sit and do nothing until we start to rot. Fear tells us that doing something is harder than doing nothing. It tells us not to try because we might fail or look stupid or embarrass ourselves, etc. Doing nothing is easier, yes, but we end up rotting.

If you go to biblegateway.com and enter the word “fear” into its search engine it will come up with 336 times the word fear is used. If you put in the phrase “do not be afraid” you will find 70 references. Another 17 references are found when you enter the phrase “do not fear.” Fear is a big topic in the Bible.

If we look at the first reference to fear we will find it in the Garden. Adam and Eve had sinned and were afraid to be seen. So that fear was justified. When Mary hears the words, “Do not be afraid” it is when she sees the angel that has come to tell her she will be the mother of the Christ. It is natural to feel some trepidation when a heavenly being steps out of nothing into your room. Wise words calmed her fears.

Chip Dodd in his book “The Voice of the Heart” postulates that emotions are neutral. They are like breathing. Breathing is necessary. Fear is necessary. It’s what we do with it that defines whether or not it does anything positive in our life. If we allow fear to move us toward God we get the gift of wisdom and faith. If we isolate and try to deal with our fear on our own we get anxious and controlling and eventually if we lose control or we can’t control a situation or person we start to rage. When we start to feel anxious or like we need to control a situation the question to ask is, “What am I afraid of?” Then when we figure it out we have to go to the Lord and tell him about it and ask for wisdom for dealing with it and the faith to trust Him to work it out.

Easier said than done. When we don’t trust the Lord we will find ourselves controlling everything around us sometimes even to the point where we isolate ourselves from everyone and everything. We create a prison around ourselves and sometimes that prison is very, very comfortable, much more comfortable than the effort and risk it takes to move beyond our prison.

Our enemy would like nothing more than to paralyze us with fear. If we are in our nice comfortable prison we are not out fighting him. We are not out making a difference. We are not witnessing. We are not making disciples. We are being lied to and there is no one around to tell us differently. We are sitting and rotting.

One of the best verses to meditate on when we are stuck in our broccoli water is Psalm 46:1

“God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in trouble.”

He is my strength, my physical strength to go the distance, my emotional strength to push through even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and my mental strength to reject the lies we tell ourselves and that we hear from our enemy. He is my refuge, but he isn’t my pan of stagnant water. He wants us to find our strength in Him, not a comfortable place to rot.

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