Fruitless Fear (the burden of anxiety)

Here’s another nugget from my Bonhoeffer devotional. Psalm 119:1 is the focus.

Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.

Referring to “new beginnings,” he says that we drive ourselves into “fruitless fear” when we question whether we made the right beginning. When we are born again we are on the way with God, and this question is now settled for us. Fruitless fear comes from a constant search for the new beginning (uh oh). 

fruitless efforts grapeSide Note: These Bonhoeffer writings are from another time (mid-20th century), and he says fruitless fear is the result of the ones already on the way with God searching for a new beginning. This grabbed me because today, in the 21st century church, some of us market the new beginning to believers.

Fruitless fear keeps us tied to the letter of the law, where we stay in cycles of “do” instead of “be” and feel compelled to repeat our first works again and again. Bonhoeffer suggests a new placement — from under God’s law to in God’s law. The way we do that is to trust our one right beginning with God. When we trust our way with Him, and know that the beginning has “already taken place” then we find ourselves in God’s law, “upheld and maintained in life by it” (p. 47). 

This moved my heart for those of us who battle anxiety, because I realized that fruitless fear is the burden we carry. We won’t rest in God’s right beginning. We are the victims of an oppressor we keep paying. These are the hopeless cycles. These are the places where we feel our options are fantasy (not real for us). This is the exhausting exchange between us and our insecure views of ourselves. 

Today, though is an opportunity — not for a new beginning — to trust the right beginning. Royal anxious ones, release that burden from your soul and settle into the established place with the Father. Relax in the right beginning that’s already taken place with Him. Renew the “delivered from” thought life and embrace the “delivered into” reality. It is already well. 

SELAH, grace & peace, and love to all. 

Reference:  Bonhoeffer, D. (1906-1945). I want to live these days with you: A year of daily devotions. (O. C. Dean, Jr., Trans.). London, England: Westminster John Knox Press.

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Scot Loyd


Angel Jones

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