Freaking Out

Stephan N. Tchividjian National Christian Foundation President

I have fond memories of a slightly chaotic situation. We were enjoying an evening with some friends at our home, which at the time had a small dock on a canal. The evening was pleasant as evenings with friends can be. The moon was full, and the tide was high. The children were playing outside, around the pool and down by the dock (supervised I might add). We heard some commotion and my youngest daughter came running through the house yelling at the top of her lungs, “I’m freaking myself out, I’m freaking myself out, I’m freaking myself out!” Running right behind her was one of the other little children, joining in the pandemonium. We, as good parents, immediately reacted to the situation and investigated. We were under the assumption that all was safe and secure. We were unaware of any danger lurking. What was causing the fear?  What did the children see? What happened on the dock?

We investigated the “freaking out” situation and came to realize that while the children were playing on the dock, the high tide had caused the water to slap the underside of the dock, which to an adult would only be a nuisance because our shoes could get wet. However, to a child the slapping sound of water hitting the dock could only be because something or someone lived under the dock and had decided to scare these “little food sources.” We were quickly relieved that there was no danger and that this situation was actually quite funny.  Our evening resumed its normal rhythm. However, for the rest of the night, our little girl would not take her eyes off of Lisa, often saying, “I’m keeping my eyes on you,” not wanting to lose contact with her hero, bodyguard and savior… the one that makes it all go away.

 

Phantom fears  

I have a tendency to “freak myself out” for any and all kinds of reasons. Sometimes it might be a financial pressure, sometimes it’s a health scare, something at work, a relationship with a loved one, a barrage of temptations or an unexpected disappointment or loss. I sense that sometimes it’s easier for me to allow my phantom fears to become a reality, and my actions respond to something that isn’t even real. Perhaps there is a valid concern or lurking fear; however, how I respond to that fear is telling.

Webster’s defines freak as “a sudden and odd or seemingly pointless idea or turn of the mind.” Therefore, “freaking out” can be when this pointless idea affects behavior. I am often made aware of my self-imposed “freaking out,” and often that means that I am no longer relying in my secure relationship with God. I have taken a detour, and my imagination fears that God has finally abandoned me or perhaps I have abandoned Him. I am often embarrassed because the incident exposes a weakness in my character, in my maturity and in my ability to better behave in those unexpected moments. Perhaps I missed some signs, didn’t listen well or simply ignored common sense.

 

Keeping my eyes on you

I find it interesting that once the incident at our home settled down, the behavior of our daughter was to never leave Lisa’s side and to always, “keep my eye on you.” I can’t help but believe that the greatest anecdote to these types of situations is to never lose site of our Savior. You remember Peter walking on the water and “keeping his eye on Jesus,” and yet, as he was distracted by the situation, quickly took matters into his own hands to only find himself sinking. I do that; I take my eyes off of Jesus and immediately find myself sinking in despair, discouragement, disapproval and all kinds of dis…  

Perhaps we are in danger of doing that as Christians. Perhaps today our Church community is no longer behaving as those with their eyes on Jesus, but our eyes are on the latest headlines, a breaking news story or some  social media fed opinion. I am often disappointed and, frankly, concerned that we are guilty of not looking at our Jesus to save us. We must also ask a very honest question. When we say, “save us,” what are we saving? Are we asking that Jesus save something temporal or eternal?  I remember one time hearing a statement that has caused me to ponder. The statement was, “people are not as interested in how you became a Christian. They are more interested in why are you still one?” How would you answer that? Is Jesus a path for me to access my way of life? Is Jesus my buddy and feel good partner? Is Jesus my Lord or my lucky charm?

 

I have found that in order for me to not “freak out” I must be intentional to “keep my eyes on you.” I think that it may sometimes appear to be overly simple, perhaps a little soupy, but honestly, it’s all I have. Peter didn’t have a lifejacket on. He was committed. He was out there on the water, and the only thing he had going for him was Jesus in his sight.

I keep Jesus in my view by surrendering every day. I can’t simply will my devotion to Him. I’m incapable of that just as I’m incapable of flapping my arms and flying. I try and spend time with Him every day. I desire to be in a constant mode of prayer (mostly listening), and I must be willing to obey Him. Talk is cheap, and that is not what God has asked of me. I must take time to devote to this most important of relationships.

One final thought, in the Garden of Eden, mankind was tempted by Satan to question God’s mandate to not partake of the tree called the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Perhaps God is demonstrating His desire to shield me from overload (more on that next month). I have been created with limited capacity and when I try to process all the unknowns of my life, I find myself in a place I’m not supposed to be, and I easily “freak out.” I must be quick to acknowledge His presence and His provision. Therefore, perhaps we can all learn a little from my daughter and from our friend Peter. Perhaps both demonstrated courage to venture into the unknown only to realize that the situation was beyond them, and they were easily in a situation where they were “freaking myself out.” Therefore, let’s make sure we are “ keeping our eyes” on Him who actually sees what we can’t see and promises a peace that we can’t create.

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