For as long as I can remember, fear has been a most unwelcome companion of mine, a curse you might say. I've tried to raise my children to be strong in the face of fear so that they would not have to deal with some of the stuff I've endured. But my dog? Well, she's just a scaredy-dog!
She absolutely loves people, sometimes too much. My daughter says that Roxie has no concept of personal space. When visitors are over, she is right in their face, her tail wagging her whole body. But she does not like other dogs, no sir-ree. On our walk today, we came across the tiniest dog. Quaking with fear, she ran behind my legs and encircled the leash around them. I nearly fell over. It was not pretty!
Later, the plumber arrived. Roxie would have loved to be right under the sink with him, so I had to block her off. And what did I use? Something else she is afraid of - paper bags!
So here is Roxie trapped in the dining room behind four empty paper bags from my morning grocery shopping excursion. If she so much as sneezed, they'd blow over. But now, she is a prisoner of her own fears.
Too often, what we are afraid of is just substance of our own making. You have probably heard of the acronym F-E-A-R = False Evidence Appearing Real. It's true that some fears are based on very real situations (a diagnosis from the doctor, a child or spouse in the military, job layoffs, economic disasters), but unfortunately, all too often, it's just our emotions run amok.
While on the retreat a few weeks ago, the group leaders shared a common thread that was mentioned in each of the groups. When discussing what prevented the group members from fufilling God's calling in their lives, most mentioned fear. Fear of speaking to someone, fear of taking a stand, fear of moving out of their comfort zone, fear of the unknown, fear of repercussions, fear of failure, and so on.
Over the years, I've learned that there is only one fear we ought to have – the fear of the Lord. There is nothing else to fear. I've heard that "fear not" appears 365 times in the Word. This means that there is a "fear not" for every single day! Fear has served a purpose in my life. It has kept me on my knees. I know God can supernaturally remove it, and He has done so on occasion. But, if He doesn't, I understand that it causes me to go to Him.
When the entire nation of Israel was terrified of the giant Goliath, young David had another perspective. He utters one of my favorite verses in the Bible, "Who is this uncircumcized Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" When I am facing a fearful situation, I now try to keep an eternal perspective, and not feel overpowered by it.
These verses have ministered greatly to me:
"Thou wilt keep (her) in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because (s)he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."1 John 4:18
"In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" Psalm 56:4
"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.." 2 Tim. 1:7
What is it that you are facing today? If you seriously think about it, is it just a paper bag? Or is it real? Can you see beyond the immediate situation to view this problem from an eternal viewpoint? Whether real or not, will you make it a matter of prayer today? Will you send me an email or a comment so that I can pray for and with you?
In those famous words of FDR, for most of us "there is nothing to fear, but fear itself."
ps - On Saturday, June 6th, I will be speaking at High Mountain's Ladies Tea on this subject of fear. Won't you join us? It's a great event. I'm sure you'll be blessed.