“Fear is a deceitful aid. It can embitter one’s pleasure, make life laborious and miserable, make one old and decrepit; but it cannot help one to the Good since fear itself has a false conception of the Good – and the Good does not allow itself to be deceived.”
Maybe I’ve got fear all wrong. Maybe instead of protecting it’s been oppressing.
If you haven’t read it yet, read my blog post Confronting Worry: My Story (Part 1). It’s about my new found fear of flying – especially over the ocean.
After my terrifying flight across the Pacific, I was elated to be grounded and I never wanted to lift my little toe off of planet earth again. So, when my husband asked if I would consider going, once again, on the same mission trip to Japan, I’ll admit, I seized up with panic. The ‘holy’ response would have been, “Yes! That will be great! I love to serve God and I love ministering with my husband.” But, my actual inner response was, “AHHHHH! I don’t know if I can possibly fly over the ocean again! If I do, is there something I can take to knock me out for the entirety of the flight?”
I simply told my husband I’d think about it, pray about (because that’s the pious thing to do, right?), and get back to him.
But I knew, in that goading of the Holy Spirit kind of way, I just knew that I must go on this trip. Because my sole reason for saying no was fear.
What am I to do with this fear?
Should fear be a more trusted guide than the Holy Spirit?
What if, when fear screams ‘no,’ it’s a signal to boldly answer, ‘yes’?
What if the frightening, completely out-of-my-control path, is exactly the one God wants me to take?
What if fear was always meant to make us run, but we’re just running in the wrong direction?
What if, as Kierkegaard says, fear will never help us on our path to the Good – to God?
What if giving in to fear is giving up my privileges as a child of God?
What if I’ve been letting fear beat me up when I should be letting God lift me up?
George MacDonald says:
“… that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.”
Fear makes us all slaves.
As I contemplate this, I hear that whisper of a question that Jesus asked Peter 2000 years ago. The question Jesus asked Peter after he had fled the scene of Christ’s crucifixion. The question which reveals our true motivations. Do you love Me?
Like Peter, I’ve often feared the opinion of others and feared for my life.
Jesus, through His questioning of Peter, offered the only antidote for fear – love. Specifically, the love of God. (Were you starting to wonder what all this fear talk had to do with love? ;))
I’m beginning to recognize in myself that fear for my life is anti love for God. The two can never coexist. The only fear compatible with love is the fear of God Himself.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11)
Fear of anything besides the Lord reveals double-mindedness in our souls, and that, as James tells us (1:6-8), leads to an unstable life; tossed around an off kilter by all the loves, fears, desires, and temptations the world has to offer. Unity and stability are only found in fear-mingled-love of God.
So, because I want to serve God and not fear, in two weeks I will walk down that cold plastic tube into an awaiting airliner and soar over the ocean with faith. Not faith in the pilot or aircraft, but faith in the Sovereign over all. The One who holds the keys to life and death. The only One worth loving. The only One deserving of my audacious defiance of fear.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to tremble when I think of what’s coming. And fear has influenced my decision – but in the opposite way it usually does. My fear for self propels me into obedience of my Savior. So in an inside-out way, fear is my guide.
“The issue is not the absence of fear, but whether or not we are building the way we live on a memorial to fear, or a memorial to trust.”
Margaret Manning Schull
I choose to build my life as a memorial to the only stable, sovereign and faithful One. I choose a legacy of faith in the Lord rather than a legacy of fear.