Recently my family and I went on a road trip to get away for a few days and have a change of scenery. We had a beautiful time on vacation, and though the drive was lovely, it was also pretty long.
Long road trips usually make me a bit nervous because I know my husband is going to ask me to help him drive for at least a part of the way.
The truth is, I drive on a daily basis. I’m a mom so much of my life involves driving kids from one activity to the next. However, because I have a history involving car accidents (none of which were my fault), I have some anxiety when driving in unfamiliar places or on long stretches where cars tend to go much faster than I’m comfortable with.
So, when it was my turn behind the wheel, I immediately started feeling a sense of fear and dread.
I’ve noticed in these situations that the distance between fear and panic is a short one. And when I’m in full blown panic mode I can’t think straight which makes me even more fearful.
2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
In this passage, Paul is admonishing his young protege Timothy to not give into fear and to not allow it to keep him from the good work that God has called him to.
The word he uses for sound mind comes from the Greek sōphronismos, and interestingly, it’s the only place in the Bible where it is used. The meaning has to do with a person’s whole range of thinking involving logic, emotions, and the ability to come to a conclusion in a safe and secure way.
There are times when fear can help keep us safe, if it is rooted in discernment or reasonableness. It’s what keeps us from crossing the street when the light is red or getting too close to a flame. It’s that part of our brain that can tell us to use caution or step away when something is a terrible idea. But it’s useful only when we are able to think clearly.
Soundness of mind gives us the ability to think so that we can make wise decisions and discern next steps that are not controlled by fear. And like Timothy, we have access to a sound mind because God also makes it available to us as well.
When I’m in road-trip-panic mentality, I can’t think rationally. I’m overcome with emotion and I become convinced that I’ll get hit or something terrible will happen. But when I’m thinking with a soundness of mind, I can pause, take a breath and recognize that I am a very capable driver who has never actually caused an accident.
Fear tells us to avoid all things that have the potential to cause harm. But resilience involves the ability to adjust or adapt and keep trying. As believers, Jesus invites us to cultivate a life of resilient faith. We are not to let uncertainty hold us captive but rather trust that God is in control in all circumstances and allow Him to direct our steps. We are to move wisely.
If I let fear drive all the time I won’t get very far...in fact fear would like to keep me stuck. But when I can engage a frightening situation with soundness of mind, I am able to navigate potential dangers and move forward even if it feels uncomfortable in the moment. Eventually, when I look back to where I started, that place gets farther away in the distance as I move closer and closer to my destination.