Fear Knot

knotThere’s a saying going around that there are 365 “fear nots” in the Bible. I haven’t counted so I can’t verify the truth of that statement, but I do know it’s in there enough to qualify as the most repeated command in the Good Book. Oh, and yes, “fear not” is a command.

It seems God has built into my body a stress detection system. When fear, worries and pressures start getting to me, the muscles in my lower neck and upper shoulders tighten up into a snarl of strained sinew. I call it my “Fear Knot” and it’s my own personal alarm telling me it’s time to step back and do these things:

1. Breath. Up until recently, I wasn’t aware that I haven’t been breathing correctly. Shallow breaths let in the bare minimum of oxygen, causing my cells to practically suffocate. So I’m learning to take deep, belly breaths — just like my vocal music professor instructed me years ago. Singing requires good, cleansing breath — so does living. I knew that — I just forgot.

2. Sit up straight. Confession time: I’m a sloucher. It’s a bad habit. Shoulders back, chin up, ten-hut.

3. Enlist PB to give me a rub down. I sit on the floor in front of him and he works my shoulders like a pro. I have to join him in watching “Duck Dynasty” but that’s even worth it. He tends to like the idea of me sitting at his feet anyway.

4. Take a walk at the lake. Being out in nature reminds me there is a world beyond my office. And a magnificent one, at that. (A kayak ride around the lake with friends is even better!)

5. Pray. I pull out my go-to list of stress-busting Bible verses. I say them out loud in order to get my mind to listen to my heart.

Where do your “fear knots” tend to show up? How do you loosen the ligaments, tame the tendons, and stomp out the stress?

  • “Lord, won’t you look and see how upset I am? My stomach is in knots.” Lamentations 1:20 Continue reading
  • Take a Deep Breath

    I wonder how many of you actually just took a deep breath!  We need to do that more often, you know.  Most of us don’t breathe right most of the time.  Quick, shallow breaths don’t feed our brains like long deep ones.  In that case, I’d better take a few big ones right now before I go any further.

    As a follow-up to Dry Bones, here are some thoughts on breathing.

    Breathing is life.  In the valley of dry bones, the bodies were reassembled, but remained nothing more than a pile of corpses until God’s breath entered them and they came to life.  Just as when God made man in the beginning, Adam was a lifeless body until the breath of life shot into his nostrils and he became a living being.  Isn’t that what we long for when we look at the body of a loved one lying in a casket – the breath of life?  (I just looked in my thesaurus under breath and it says, “see LIFE”.)

    The Hebrew word for breath, ruwach, also means wind and Spirit.  Sounds like the lingo Jesus used with Nicodemus in John 3.  Spirit=breathe=life.  I’m sure there are layers and nuances of meaning that go deep and wide here; I’d need lots of deep breathing to send my brain there.

    In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he said “all scripture is God-breathed”.  So, for me, reading the living and active Word of God is like being hooked up to an oxygen tank after inhaling pollution all day.  It purifies, cleanses, brings health.

    One last thought:  don’t forget to exhale.  Breathing isn’t just taking in air, but also letting it go in a natural rhythm.  After six days of creating things, God designed something different: rest.  The Hebrew Bible says that on the seventh day God rested and was refreshed.  The word literally means God exhaled.  I like to think of the Sabbath as the great exhale after sucking air for six days.

    One more last thought:  Here’s my favorite sermon illustration on breathing.

    A young man asked a wise elderly teacher how he could find God.  The gentleman asked the young man to come with him to the river.  The young man expected to receive some wise words along the riverbank.  But when they arrived, the old man walked out into the water, so the young man followed.  Suddenly, the teacher grabbed the young man and forced him under.  The seconds ticked by and the young man began to fight against the firm grip holding him down.  Right before everything went black, the hand released him and he blasted out of the water, gasping for air.  As he gagged and choked, he shouted, “What were you doing?  Trying to kill me?”  The teacher said, “When you want God as much as you wanted that breath of air, you will find Him.”

    Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine;

    Till all this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.