Five fears? No problem. I am an expert at fear. At least, that’s what my (former) blog title tells me.
I’m well acquainted with fear. I’m the kid who refused to step too far into the backyard after dark. The one who slept with a nightlight when she was twenty. The woman who still would rather face a rabid bobcat than walk up to a stranger and begin a conversation. Fear has been a really close friend of mine. For too long.
I’m linking up again today with my friend Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple, and the topic of the day is – fear.
In teaching about fear, I’ve learned a lot about the beast. So, here we go. Five truths I’ve learned about fear.
Fear is a lie.
Well, that’s blunt enough. Think about it. Pretty much every time someone is afraid in the Bible (unless it’s of God’s power), something bad happens when he or she gives in to it. Think Abraham basically giving his wife to Pharaoh because he was afraid he’d be killed. Abraham having a child with someone else because he was afraid he’d have no heir. Joseph’s brothers afraid of their father’s obvious favoritism. Paul’s shipmates afraid of the storm. Adam and Eve afraid of God in the garden. This is a short list.
And every time someone steps our of his or her comfort zone and obeys, with trembling hands and heart? Golden.
Gideon. Mary. Ananias (Acts 9). You know you know others. (In fact, do comment with your favorite examples.)
Satan’s first lie to humans was this: You need to be afraid that God is keeping something from you. You need to be afraid of Him. Worry, and take things into your own hands.
Basically, that’s it. And we’ve gleefully done so ever since.
Fear lets us believe the lie that we have to be in control.
I cannot tell you how devastating that lie can get.
Fear lets us off the hook.
I just signed up to volunteer with World Relief. I’m terrified. I do not do strangers, conversation, or awkward situations. I don’t like intrusions on my time and very busy world. All of the above are absolutely guaranteed in this new venture. I have to meet refugees, walk into their lives, and learn how to be a friend. In a language I don’t speak.
For a long time, I have avoided this. I’ve known it was a heart call. But I was busy. Had other callings. Was too introverted. Something else would come along.
I was afraid.
Even though some of these things were true, they were also excuses. Finally, I had to look at that. People are dying. They’re fleeing real-time nightmares, losing everything they know and love, washing up on unknown shores half alive, just for the chance that someone will care. And I was sitting here afraid of giving up my time and comfort.
Fear was letting me get away with waiting for a life and ministry that wouldn’t hurt too much.
Fear keeps out love.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4.18)
If perfect love expels fear, it kind of makes sense that fear expels love.
If I’m afraid of what someone is going to think of me, or or what someone will say about me, or that everyone will finally know what a fraud I really am, what am I really afraid of? That there is some cosmic punishment for not being good enough. And I’m in line for it. I’m afraid “someone” has the power to punish me for being human.
Someone does. And He chose not to. Enter Jesus on the cross.
That means no one else ever can.
I can choose to give all the power to love or all the power to fear. I can’t choose both.
Fear fuels too many of the wrong things in our world.
Because fear keeps love at bay, it can make even good people do not good things. The moment my first reaction to a news story, a statistic, or a facebook viral post is fear, I’m dooming myself to respond with less than love. Fear is the gasoline that people pour on fires to make them spread. Christians participate.
Love is the water. If I refuse to look at a person of another color, language, political party, religion, or country with fear but look instead for his humanity, I can knock fear out cold. If I insist on seeking the truth about something before I pass it on, I can stop the deadly spread.
I can choose to be gasoline or water. Every day.
Fear can be good.
Yes, it can. Fear is not always bad. This is the most shocking thing I’ve learned about fear. Sometimes, it teaches us humility. For me, it forces me to lean into God and remember that He is the vine and I am a vulnerable branch that needs His power every minute.
We can react to fear by walking into it. Go toward that terrifying thing! But we can also react by feeling it, living it, taking the moment to accept our weakness and glory in His strength.
Fear teaches me where real strength is found.
Five things. What do you know about fear?