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Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest Paperback – October 1, 2007
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Fear is the most under-rated emotion of all our troubles. Ed has written a great book that is of great help to those of us who have to struggle with the paralyzing feelings of fear and anxiety. --Stephen Arterburn, Founder, New Life Ministries and Women of Faith Author, Reframe Your Life
Fear can make cowards of us all. It can also cripple the mighty, stripping us of confidence and strength to ever face the challenges of ordinary life a terrible way to live. In his characteristic voice which is both authoritative and sensitive, Welch inspires us to turn to God as our champion in our battle with fear. --Dr. Tim Clinton, President, American Association of Christian Counselors
Worriers are false prophets that insight alone was worth the price of the book, but far, far more awaits the wise reader who explores this brilliant book by Ed Welch. Ed tells our story of fear and worry with compelling honesty and depth. But even more, he invites us to see how our loyal God refuses to abandon us in our fear; instead, he allows our fear to reveal our fragility and desperate need for his presence. I was not only informed and moved by this book; I was invited to worship. This is not merely a book about fear; it is an invitation to a transformed view of God. --Dan B. Allender, Ph.D., President and Professor of Counseling, Mars Hill Graduate School Author, To Be Told and Leading with a Limp
About the Author
Edward T. Welch is the author of such best-selling titles as: Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, Blame It On the Brain and When People Are Big and God Is Small. He received a PhD in Counseling Psychology (Neuropsychology) from the University of Utah, and a M.Div. from the Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA. Welch is a licensed psychologist and works as a counselor, faculty member, and director of the School of Biblical Counseling at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pa. His written work and speaking ministry, which are characterized by sound biblical exposition and paired with dynamic practical application, are in great demand by today's modern church. Ed is married to Sheri and has two amazing daughters. He is also the glad owner of a growing guitar collection and competes in the Master's swim event where he happily placed fourth in the country.
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Running Scared is a book for fearful people, which is to say that it is a book for everybody. It is notable not only for its subject matter, but for its author--Edward Welch who has written, among other highly regarded titles When People Are Big and God Is Small. The book is divided into thirty chapters and Welch encourages the reader to tackle one chapter per day and to not return to the next until he has taken the time to discuss each one with another person. The chapters fall into two uneven parts, one with four and the other with twenty six chapters.
Welch begins with some initial observations, perhaps the most important of which is in the third chapter. It is here that he reveals that "fear speaks." This is to say that fear tells us about...us. It tells us about how we understand ourselves, about how we understand God and how we understand the world around. Fear is "a door to spiritual reality." "There is a close connection," Welch says, "between what we fear and what we think we need. ... Whatever you need is a mere stone's throw from what you fear." That statement is profound and well worth further consideration. It is little wonder that Welch suggests pausing often to ponder. Another point that I found worth of extra attention was this one: "Worriers live in the future." Worriers are constantly looking into the future and using their imaginations to construct their own version of what the future will look like--what it must look like based on their understanding of what has happened, what will happen, and how God works.
"Here is where adult imaginations show their mettle. Imaginations are our ability to consider things that don't presently exist. Sometimes we call it vision. A visionary is one who looks ahead and envisions the trajectory of a church, business, or individual life. A talented visionary is one who can see future possibilities and persuade others of that future. Visionaries are rarely right (at least in the details), tend to be optimistic, and are always confident."
What does this have to do with worry? "Worriers are visionaries minus the optimism." Ouch. Worriers construct worse case scenario futures for themselves and begin to believe that these futures must be theirs. In this way they take on the role of prophets, but only of false prophets. And we all know what the Bible prescribes for false prophets...
Having shared his initial observations, Welch turns to the voice of God, providing a series of chapters in which "God speaks." God first speaks about some general principles related to fear and worry and then to more specific matters--money and possessions; people and their judgments; death, pain and punishment; and then peace. Each chapter turns to Scripture for its authority and each concludes with a point or two of a personal response of application or reflection.
With surprise I admit that this is my first foray into the books of Edward Welch (though it certainly will not be my last). He has quite a unique writing style, one that made me think of Mark Buchanan with maybe a few shades of Max Lucado or Phillip Yancey (which in this case I mean to be a compliment). He writes conversationally, almost poetically, but also exegetically, drawing what he teaches primarily from the Bible. It is clear that He relies on Scripture as his authority and his source.
For someone who does not consider himself much of a worrier, I was surprised to find that this book offered me a lot to think about; it offered me a challenge to see where (not if) I worry. And as it offered the biblical diagnosis, it offered also the biblical cure. It showed me that worry, though usually a hidden sin and perhaps even a sin that most often seems harmless, is a sin that impacts my life and serves to distance me from the God who says time and time again, "Do not be afraid. Peace be with you. The Lord give you peace." It showed me most clearly of all that the way I feel about fear and worry is a sure indication of what I believe about God.
Running Scared is a book I highly recommend. I think you'll want to add it to your library as well.
He continues, "All we can see with the naked eye is our own particular frets and fears, but there is something much bigger taking place. Worries are a way that we doubt the King's presence and power. Our doubts could come from our own stubborn commitment to the myth of personal autonomy, or they may come from satanic accusations that question God's generosity and our unworthiness. Either way, anxiety and worry are spiritual wake-up calls that must be handled by spiritual means." (Pg.118)
This book does not provide 10 easy microwave steps to overcoming our fears. Nor does it sidestep the obvious fact that we as Christians can and do suffer in this life. However, Dr. Welch very aptly breaks down the underlying motives and causes of fear and worry; and using Scripture, precept upon precept, turns our eyes toward God and his purposes for us in the Kingdom of His Son. Or in his words, "Track your fears with the light of Scripture and you are directed to God."
(1) A woman who is afraid to swim is more afraid to allow her baby to die. If her baby falls into a pond, she'll fight her fear of swimming in order to go after the greater fear: her baby's death. Likewise, we can conquer our fears of lesser things by focusing on greater things to fear if we don't do so. For example, a fear of confrontation is much less important that challenging a friend to stop his heroin use.
(2) Some people are perpetually pessimistic about the future, but they are often wrong about their predictions of it, too. If we take up the role of a false prophet of doom, we'll "enjoy" a life of future fear. (E.g., No one will listen. No one will like me. I will get fired. I will end up homeless.) No matter what the future brings, we'll always live in fear based on our faulty, gloomy predictions. (E.g., Despite recent evidence to the contrary, I will still end up friendless and homeless.) I the Savior has saved a person from sin and given the person a new future home in heaven, none of this makes any sense. Even in this life, the Savior promises to renew us day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
These ideas from the book are memorable and have stuck with me although I read the book a couple months ago.