Fear, Unbelief, and Our Sinful Desire for Control

In the past few months, I read Jack Miller’s book, The Heart of a Servant Leader, and was blessed. The book is a collection of personal letters written to coworkers in ministry, as well as individuals who needed biblical, pastoral counsel. In one letter, written to a young woman named Mary whom he was evangelizing, Jack makes an insightful connection between crippling fear and unbelief. He writes:

When I was sick with cancer, sometimes things would go wrong, complications or bodily weaknesses breaking down my peace of mind. Fear would seem to get an iron grip on my emotions. It was very, very hard.

But I did learn something. It is that fear is rooted in our need to be in control of our lives. And sickness and death are such a threat to us because they threaten to undo our pretensions to be sovereign over our own lives.

Once I saw this truth, I told my heavenly Father that my fears were deep and that they were rooted in my ego-centered pride. God loves the truth, Mary; there is no point in trying to hide the deep sins of our heart from Him. He knows it all anyway, but He does want us to acknowledge our sins and to fall from our thrones onto our faces before Him.

Mary, I marvel how God should love me so much that He would send His Son to atone for my sins and to dethrone me. But I have learned there is no security, only fear and dread on a shaky throne of pride.

How does this relate to your fear and disappointments? Please know that…

  • You can’t run away from your fears. You must ask the Father to help you identify them and hand them over to Him.
  • You must ask God to give you the Spirit to understand yourself and how your fears are rooted in egocentric pride.
  • Then humble your heart and repent of your proud spirit, grieve over it, hate it, and despise it.
  • Then claim the blood of Christ as the sole basis for cleansing, relying on the promise of 1 John 1:7-2:2.

It appears to me that you will have trouble understanding the connection between ungovernable fears and egocentricity. This insight can only be understood by faith. By faith you need to see how any attempt by us to run our lives without humble submission to God puts us in a position of having to control the uncontrollable. Who really can control his or her own life? —the people in it? —the events, joyous and painful, that occur? —the deep disappointments when others do not meet our expectations?

Indeed, you can end up hating God for not being the guarantor of our own idea of our rights and prerogatives. But, Mary, you must by faith recognize the painful and liberating truth that you are not God, but a creature made in God’s image, a person with dignity, but nonetheless a very, very small being compared to the infinite Majesty of the Most High.

*Excerpted from The Heart of a Servant Leader by C. John Miller

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