Friction causes lightning; it’s the earth’s spectacular static cling. Positive and negative charges rub each other the wrong way until, eventually, the balance must be restored and the negatively charged electrons in the clouds have to connect with the positive forces on the earth to even out. Fear also causes friction, the struggle between fear and faith. The two cannot occupy the same place for too long – one will eventually win out over the other. There is no effortless, cozy way for faith to live with fear. The two will continuously battle for supremacy. If you are afraid but have faith in God to provide for you, your faith will win out. If you begin with belief but then let doubt and fear creep in, so that you are not sure of God’s provision for you, then fear wins.
Romans 7:19. says, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” You can’t get more conflicted than that. Friction can create both danger and beauty. At sleep away camp as a child, I was standing under the shelter of a building with some of the other campers looking out across the field during a thunderstorm. It was an island camp, crisscrossed with trails, and was covered entirely in relatively dense wooded areas except for a small beach and one wide open field used for games and such. In the center of the field was a flagpole. For some unknown reason, a girl suddenly bolted from my left heading straight to another cluster of girls on the other side. Her course was direct and brought her within a couple of feet of the flagpole. Right as she was running past, lightning struck the pole, the ground shook, and the force knocked the girl down. I will always remember that powerful lesson. The friction between faith and fear can be dangerous as well. Sometimes we are lulled to sleep because the cracks of doubt forming around our faith are small. We don’t even notice them. It may be because we have begun to rely too much on our ability to make things work rather than having faith in God, and it is not until one of the cracks causes a vast chasm separating us from our faith, and fear consumes us, that we realize the danger in which we find ourselves.
That friction can also create beauty, like a flower breaking its way through a city sidewalk or rocky hillside. How we grow from the clash between faith and fear can sometimes be life-altering, humbling, and rejuvenating. The last part of 2 Corinthians 6:14 ends with, “…for what fellowship hath light with darkness?” The image is clear, both darkness and light can not dwell together. Once you have introduced light into the situation, it is no longer dark. The only way to get back to darkness is to move away from the light. Now while this verse is talking about being bound with unbelievers, it is easy to see how that connects with fear and faith. Fear is unbelief and faith is belief. In the same way that when we foster close relationships with people who pull us away from God, there is no way to keep that from affecting our faith. If we want to keep sin and fear at bay, we need to move toward His light.
Many times I have found myself coming out better on the other side of one of life’s thunderstorms, like gold purified in a crucible brim full of molten conflict; my faith has become stronger; I have learned more about my heart and my God. The grueling part of the dueling negative and positive forces in my life is determining, by my actions and attitude, which one will prevail. Once I have committed to my course by trusting God to lead the way, I am, more often than not, drenched with the kind of downpour of blessings that clears the air, lowers the temperature, and refreshes the soul.