I have been thinking a lot about faith and fear and how they operate together; more often in-spite of one another. Only recently have I realized how great a role fear has played in my life – not in fear of any thing or fear of the unknown, but more fear of abstracts like loss and withdrawal, which can control how I respond to situations. The brain is wired to put together information quickly –judgments are formed about situations and create shortcuts called heuristics: which is basically a rule of thumb to how we react without reviewing tons of information. The emotional reaction often comes through fear or faith. I didn’t recognize this on my own, but John 14:1 and Joshua 1:9 kept coming to my mind out of the blue when I would feel that uncertainty. When we allow ourselves to react in fear we often give into our worst instincts, and our one step down the path to despair and hopelessness.
If we are given victory by the God of peace (Romans 16:20) and controlled by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14), then it is both to love and peace we are called – which means we are called from something that was neither love nor peace and so our concepts of both of these traits must mature beyond what we thought they were to become what they are in Him. We are neither completely loving, nor are we completely peaceful, until we surrender under the tutelage of His goodness.
I think when I step away from the assumption that I am right and understand He is perfectly good then I come into what in meant by: “My grace is sufficient for you and My strength is made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). My happiness is a completed sense of His sufficiency, and when I pursue this call to follow Him I am actually closer to the fullness of myself in the shadow of His perfection. I have been reading Joseph Campbell’s book on the development of myth and the human condition called The Hero with a Thousand Faces and he wrote about those of whom the call to adventure is refused.
“Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered; for it is possible to turn the ear to other interests. Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or “culture,” the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.” p. 49
To be happy in something is to feel complete in it: there are no gaps nor any reason to fear, because of itself it is sufficient. However, our happiness toward something incomplete is always changing, and if we always base our feeling on feeling complete in something incomplete we will never be happy. Think of it this way – some say they are happiest when they are perfectly miserable, but in their misery they are most happy and so least miserable, which cannot be. As shaky as this sounds, when we start to stand on things other than His sufficiency, we are basing our identity on what is incomplete and only show that the idea of happiness is the illusion to the extent we believe is exists of elation – what we really desire is to be content.
I don’t have to reach far to see where this is true – when I don’t do what I know to do I invite anxiety and a feeling of insufficiency: either that my goodness isn’t good enough or that my badness is too bad. The call is neither to be good nor bad but to be obedient, and by being obedient we come into His sufficiency, which is unchanging (James 1:17). I think this is what the Psalmist knew when He said: “Cast your burden on the LORD for He will not suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22), and it occurs to me that it is not that He will not allow them to suffer, but the definition of suffering is changed because the definition of happiness is actually… defined.