Edward T. Welch. Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2007. 317 pp. Reviewed by Paul Shirley (6/4/2007).
Fear, worry, and doubt are a deadly combination; a combination that seems to plague all of as at various time-even those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God. This combination of emotions is so natural to us that we usually just accept them as part of life, and never deal with them. This is dangerous for anyone, but it is particularly inappropriate for Christians. We claim to be people trusting in a God who controls all things. To live with constant fear, worry, and doubt would be completely inconsistent with that claim. Thus, as Christians we must fight the constant urge to fear, worry, and doubt.
To aid us in this fight Edward T. Welch has recently written Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of Rest. In this book Welch deals with the causes of fear and worry as well as practical strategies for dealing with them.
Welch begins by pointing out the need to recognize our fears:
One useful life skill is to know when to listen to our feelings and when to ignore them. As a general rule, the first step is to listen. There is logic-a language-to fear and anxiety, just as there is to most emotions. (pg. 37)
Don’t forget, listening for fear is like listening to background noise. At first you think there is nothing to hear, but then you notice the wind in the trees, birds calling for a mate, cars passing by, a plane overhead creaks in the floors, the water heater kicking in. At first we might deny any palpable fears and their logic, but then we listen more carefully and notice that they are everywhere, speaking loudly. (pg. 37)
Once we have recognized our fears we can then begin to deal with them. And do not under estimate the importance of dealing with these issues. Here is an interesting point that Welch made that should motivate us to deal with our fears:
Quick. What is, by far, God’s most frequent command? The usual suspects include “Do not commit adultery,” “Have no other gods before me,” and “Love one another.” The next group includes whatever commands you know you have violated, in which case they only feel as if they appear on every page of Scripture. The actual answer is “Do not be afraid.” (pg. 59)
Given the frequency of this command it is important for us to deal with this issue.
As we trace out the cause of the fear in our lives we will find that they are usually the result of mixed allegiances in our own hearts. In fact, Welch points out that this is the reason that God tests us so often is to reveal these mixed allegiances:
We are the potential traitors and don’t even know it. God tests us because we are so oblivious to the mixed allegiances in our own hearts. The purpose of the test is to help us see our hearts and if they are found traitorous, we can turn to God. (pg. 75)
These tests will reveal the misdirected love that we have in our hearts which ultimately leads to fear and worry:
Worry, therefore, is not simply an emotion that erodes our quality of life or a pain to be alleviated. It is a misdirected love that should be confessed. It is trying to manage our world apart from God. It is making life about our needs, desires, and wants. (pg. 163)
Once we have recognized these issues in our hearts we will then be able to deal with them. To this end Welch provides his readers with a helpful strategy:
One of the strategies for dealing with worry is to be overtaken by something more important than the object of your worries. (pg. 106)
Welch is exactly right, and that something more important is Jesus. We must replace our mixed allegiances with gull devotion to Christ if we are going to deal with the fear and worry in our lives.
Overall I found this book to be helpful for me as I deal with these issues in my own life. I would recommend this book with several qualifications. First, remember that this is a book about fear and that is why it is emphasized so much. It would be easy to read this book and think that fear and worry are at the heart of al our problems. This is not so. Second, there is a lot of “fluff” in this book. For every point made there are multiple illustrations, examples, and personal stories. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but at times it was a bit over the top. The book could be about 25% shorter and make all the same points. Finally, this book will help you to begin thinking about this issue but it does not have all the answer (nor does it claim to). If you are going to effective fight fear then it will take more than this book. You will have to be devoted to Christ and His word to be successful in your battle.
Title: Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest
Author: Edward T. Welch
Reading level: 3 out of 10
Publisher: New Growth Press
Price: $10.87 at http://www.amazon.com