Tim Keller is one of my favorite preachers/writers. You used to have to pay for his sermons but can now get several of them (maybe 30 or 40?) through itunes podcast for free. I highly suggest you download some, especially the pocast "Praying our Fears"
Anxiety is fear, its a general fear. Few things really cause me to fear. Very few specifics, but I do have a general anxiety of things not working out, of bad things happening. What if I never get married? What if I can't have children? What if my parents get sick? I don't think of these in a very fearful way, but I do always feel anxious about if something awful happened, how would I make it through? Ironically enough, bad things have happened and God has gotten me through, so that should be enough to remind me of His grace, faithfulness and provision...but the human memory (or maybe just my memory) for God's goodness seems to be short.
Keller talked about Psalm 3 in his sermon. Verse 3 says that God is a shield AROUND David, not in front of, AROUND. There are two types of shields - the small ones that you wear on your arm in hand to hand combat. This is when you are fighting and you might need to move the shield in front of your face to defend yourself. Then, there is the type of shield that is the size of a door and curves around you. This kind of shield is used only in the most dangerous situations...as you follow your general into harm's way.
The way the second shield works (and I don't know if this is by design to keep men from fleeing, or it just so happens to be this way...) is that as you move forward, the shield can serve to protect, no matter how scary, tragic, dangerous, you have a shield in front and on your sides (AROUND) you. There is still danger as you proceed forward...BUT it is far more dangerous to retreat...because then you would have NO protection. your exposed unprotected back would be to the danger. You only thought it was dangerous moving forward, its almost lethal fleeing.
So, the shield only protects if you obey, move forward and trust...if you follow your general into harms way, into whatever scary path lie in front of you. Same's true with God, His protection is there when we OBEY and FOLLOW him into the scary parts of life, the parts where we could get hurt, family members could die or leave us, friends could abandon, we could end up single or barren or sick, but choosing to go the path God has chosen TRUSTING and OBEYING Him is what provides a shield around us....Fleeing, choosing to make things happen on our own or refusing to trust Him is what leaves our back exposed.
I am someone who does well with pictures. After all, every time I see a Lion, I think of Aslan and thus, I think of Jesus. So, this picture sticks with me. I sometimes see friends take dating into their own hands - try to date nonbelievers, compromise their morals, settle for the wrong man or woman...God's protection is most directly on us when we go forward in obediance to Him. I see men and women give up hope when trials come -- choosing an affair over fixing their marriage or seeking other means of happiness than the Lord because life, work, friends have failed. As dangerous and scary as walking in the Lord may seem when walking in the Lord may mean troubles, walking without the Lord and without His protection is scarier. An open unprotected back, no shield, plenty of dangers.
Keller states that the Lord is a shield around us, protecting us DURING the battles, trials, and hurts, not FROM them. He also states that sometimes God allows small hurts because this pain, this warning or even this growth keeps us from even worse hurts. Ever think of it that way? I sure don't. We don't see how much worse things could be so we don't know what we were protected from. A failed relationship is easier than a failed marriage. A job offer that falls through could be keeping us from a bad job situation or opening the door for a better one.
I was so encouraged by this sermon and hope everyone downloads it. I am choosing to walk through today TRUSTING that the Lord is a shield around me in every good and bad moment, that nothing happens to me that doesn't first pass through His hand...and that although following Him certainly is scary, fleeing from Him and losing that protection is scarier.