Ed Jordan

Ed Jordan

Most of us are getting antsy with the stagnation that has settled into our lives. Our kids want to get back to school, which is an interesting phenomenon in and of itself. Businesses are hanging on by their fingernails. The trauma of the last six months is beginning to affect our mental and emotional health. People want to get back to life, to living without restrictions and to freely interacting with people beyond the walls of their home.

We’ve been soaking in a long bath of fear, and some of that fear has gotten inside of us. When fear is in control of our lives, it is hard to break its grip. We can actually become afraid to break free.

But how do you re-enter life beyond the house, and go back into a world that has changed? How do you navigate in a world that is still constricted by fears? How can we overcome our fear? What is the way forward?

If you want to go forward, you have to go upward. Jesus taught us to entrust our lives to God and then not to worry about all the “what if’s” of tomorrow (see Matthew 6:31-34). Worrying about something does not make it true; it just gives that thing power over our lives. While no one is advocating reckless disregard for the health of others, human beings need human contact, not just virtual human contact. We were made to live in fellowship with God and with other people.

The way forward is upward. We must disarm fear and embrace faith. Fear and faith are opposites. Fear comes knocking when threatening things seem to be all around us, and when we feel helpless or out of control. In reality, most of the things we encounter everyday are beyond our personal control. But nothing is beyond the reach of God’s control. So if I reject faith in God, and friendship with God, then I am alone in a jungle full of threats that are beyond my control.

However, if I embrace God, and entrust my life into Jesus’ care, then I have no need to worry about, nor be afraid of, what I cannot control. The God who loves me has me in his care. When we trust God with our lives, and with our children’s lives, many of our worries and anxieties dissipate. That doesn’t mean we behave stupidly and expect God to rescue us; it does mean that our fears can dissipate because we rely on a powerful, loving Father to take care of us.

The Apostle Paul lived much of his life in perilous life-threatening scenarios (see a list in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and yet through each experience he remained calm and at peace with God in the midst of the many dangers. Paul never let any of those things stop him, derail him, nor defeat him. Paul knew that the way forward was to go upward. No one moves forward who is frozen in place.

In Philippians 3:14 (NASB95) Paul said: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul did not focus on the threats in life, nor let them hinder him. He kept His eyes on the goal of going forward with Jesus, and by going forward he was also moving upward toward Jesus. Moving forward and upward with Jesus was always the way forward, and it still is. When God gets involved in our lives, and we intertwine our lives with his, we follow him each day into the future. We are not alone, and the unknowns that are beyond our control are within his control.

It’s a common saying that even the longest journey begins with the first step. But the first step is not enough. We must keep moving, using all resources at hand: our faith, our intellect, our discernment, our wisdom, and wise counsel. But especially our faith and reliance on the presence and leadership of God.

God did not create us to slump down into stagnation and despair. He created us to walk forward and upward in life with him. If you know him, then walk with him daily. When walking with him, life is onward and upward. If you don’t know Jesus personally, there is no better time than now. Talk to him in prayer, ask him to forgive your sins, to remove the fears from your life and fill you with His presence. Then with your eye set on him, walk forward and upward. Life still has much ahead to offer you, but that requires you to move farther on up the road.

Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.