Over the past few weeks, I’ve had several uplifting and interesting conversations with friends, many of which have skittered around in the dust of faith and life, and have latched onto the topic of fear.
It eats us. It destroys us. Fear is not our friend.
Yet I cling to it with all my mite at times, I follow in its path, I let it seduce me into silent worship. I give it my joy, my life, my faith, and my love. When it comes down to it, my Friends, we sacrifice peace for fear. Life for death, love for bitterness, happiness for grief.
Why? I don’t know. It’s just a thing. Everybody’s afraid of something. The excuses haunt us from the day-to-day.
When I was a child I was afraid to go downstairs by myself. I thought someone might catch me. I was afraid of my room when the lights first went out. I feared the octopus under my bed and the salt and pepper shaker monsters that lived downstairs. Those fears, small and silly and ever so insignificant as they may seem, lost me sleep and confidence and joy and peace.
The years went by. They are going, flying by, at the moment. And yet I still fear.
There are the little, physical elements of life, built into our everyday. There’s the job interview or getting lost on your way to a new place, the first day of university or a really tough final. Those we fear and reasonably so. But they’re gone in span of an hour or day, and the fear flies away with them, too.
But then there are the deeper, longer fears. The ones that take hold deep down, from the core of our being, from our very toes and knees, growing and moving up into our hearts, and clogging our heads. The ones that stick to us like glue and spread like syrup on pancakes. Falling like the rain and growing like dandelions, this inner fear is deep-seated, wild, and ferocious.
It swallows me and I’m Jonah in the whale, tossing and turning about, trapped, consumed by something much larger than life.
It’s the reason I can only dance when the lights dim. The reason I can’t get where I need to in my acting and singing classes and why I leave a dance call crying. It’s the force behind me when I run away, either physically or metaphorically, and why I had trouble wearing shorts on the bus for so long. It’s the reason I’m glad to be single for now because the thought of romance is somewhat petrifying. It’s frequently the why behind my “no” when a friend invites me somewhere. It’s the halting speech and change of thought, refusing to follow through on a sentence and the swallowing of physical impulses.
And I think it’s my sin, I often tell myself. I think I’ve done something wrong. I think that fear is a warning, that this is how it should be, how it’s meant to be since the fall.
Yet in fear, there is nothing but misery and pain, discouragement and discomfort. My heart burns with bitterness and discontent. I’m utterly unhappy. Is this what God wanted for me? Is it what He wanted for us? I wonder in the wake of a thousand tears, trembling after something that should have been easy.
God, who said, do not be afraid for I am with you, the Lord who promised to strengthen us and uphold us with His righteous hand.
Jesus, the one who calls us, all who are weary and burdened, to follow him who is gentle and humble in heart, and He will give us rest for our souls.
The Holy Spirit, who fills us with power to do the things we need to do, who prays for us, who intercedes, and fills us up.
While on earth, Jesus wept, Jesus, loved, and Jesus bled. It was all for us.
I can only imagine, only know, only trust, only believe that Jesus wants the very best for me. For us. For you.
1 John 4:18 says that perfect love drives out fear. God is that perfect love. He possesses it and carries it, provides us with it and gifts love freely. He is love, the perfection of it that we could never be and always crave.
We have a thousand reasons to fear, yes. But we have a God who created us for more than the shame of the flesh. Jesus never intended fear to drive us. Love, peace, joy, praise, yes. But not fear. Because Jesus wants so much for you.
He wants the very best. So take Him up on that today, tonight, this minute.
Come to Him, all you who are weary and burdened, come to Him who is gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.