Fear Leads to the Road of “Yes, BUT…”

Today, I continue a series about a journey of listening prayerfully (See April 9, 16, 19 & 23 archives).

     In my journey of listening prayer, I’ve discovered there will be times I come to a juncture and must decide which road I’ll take.

     The Road of “Yes, BUT…” or

     The Road of “Yes, WHAT…”

     In my experience of counseling, I’ve encountered many folks who insist on taking the road of “Yes, but…”

     You’ve probably experienced this. You listen intently, suggest an option you know is solid, and wilt when the person you care about says, “Well, Yes, but…”

     Even though “Yes, but…” answers frustrate, I try to remember that way too often, I have chosen the same road. God’s response has always been extending a hand of grace. It is with that same spirit of grace I write today’s post.

     One of my favorite poems is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. In the last stanza, Frost says…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

     There are many reasons we choose the road of “Yes, BUT…” A common thread, however, is fear. The enemy of our soul has a strategic plan for keeping us from becoming the person and accomplishing the good work God designed for us to be and do. Fear is a formidable tactic.

     Three fears are common:

     First, fear of the unknown. Even if I don’t like where it takes me, the road I know is predictable and often feels comfortable.

     Hebrews 11:1 lets us know the essence of faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith journeys aren’t always comfortable and predictable.

     When the Lord called Abram, He said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) The journey of listening prayer will undoubtedly take us to places requiring us to let go of a certain comforts and predictability.

     The path of “Yes, BUT… that’s motivated by fear often sounds something like this: “Yes, BUT…What if…?” In my critical stress response training, I learned anticipatory stress—or, as I call it, “What if…Stress”–is common, especially following unexpected loss or trauma.

     Although understandable, continuing to insist on taking the path of “Yes, BUT…” keeps us from moving into the new land our Heavenly Father wants to lead us.

     Secondly, there’s fear of inadequacy, a fear most of us seem to battle regularly.

     “Yes, BUT’s” motivated by fear of inadequacy are often followed by an “I’m too…” statement:

     “Yes, BUT, I’m…

          too old,

                too young,

                     too smart,

                         too dumb,

                              too damaged,

                                   too over-qualified….

     The list goes on and on.

     Romans 12 is a practical portion of Scripture, and I appreciate Eugene Peterson’s modern English translation in The Message:

1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

     Assessing honestly, prayerfully, humbly and gratefully my personality, strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities, habits, history, tendencies, relationships and resources honors the design God gave me and helps reveal “Yes, BUT, I’m too…” lies I believe.

     Lastly, there’s fear of failure.

     I love David’s vulnerability. Often in the psalms, he prays, “Lord, let me not be put to shame!” Steps of faith into the unfamiliar require risk. Risk taking holds a potential of humiliation.

     I try to convince myself failures are merely opportunities to grow and learn, but honestly, fear of being embarrassed scares me.

     To counteract fear, I remind myself often God is never the source of incapacitating fear. Paul reminded his young friend, Timothy, of this in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV): “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

     Ignatius laid down his sword at the Lady of Montserrat signifying his absolute devotion to follow Christ. I visited this site while in Spain, and our group leader suggested we “lay down” our symbolic “swords.” One of mine was the “sword” of fear.

While this may be a lifelong challenge, I know I can grow as I focus on God’s love, learning what the disciple, John realized, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear….” (1 John 4:18 NKJV)

What about you?

  • What are fears that cause you to take roads of “Yes, BUT…”?
  • How might the truths of Scripture used in today’s post help you combat those fears?

Until next time, may we gain new courage for our journeys…

Sue Reeve

When Ron and I were in Israel, quite by chance, we met a lovely young couple—Eli and Lena—who spent most of one day showing us around Tel Aviv. During their recent trip to Japan, they remembered my obsession with path photos and sent several. I’m calling these two path pictures, “The Roads of Yes, BUT…” Thanks so much, Eli and Lena, for thinking of us

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