Fear by Michelle Jones

There are some things I want to do, things I believe God has called me to do, but I find myself paralyzed. I am being strangled by so much fear. I’m afraid to try and fail, afraid to desire, afraid to be wrong, afraid to correct what I’ve already messed up, afraid to finish what I started, afraid of disappointing myself and others (again!), afraid to be afraid for crying out loud! I hate living like this, so I asked God to help me. I don’t know what to do when I’m afraid to do ANYTHING.

At first I thought, I need to deal with why I’m afraid. That proved useless, like putting off eating right in order to find out why you’re not eating right. Fear doesn’t relieve us of the responsibilities we have to do the things we are afraid to do. That seems unkind, but it’s true. Then it occurred to me that I might have been looking at fear the wrong way.

FEAR IS A FEELING. It is not something apart from me. “Facing my fear” is misleading imagery. Fear is not an enemy, someone or something set against me. We’re on the same side. It is a part of me. It is IN ME, like pleasure, hunger, or gloom. I can’t help that it is there, and I can only do something about it after it comes to the surface.

Feelings, I am fond of saying, are punctuation, and therefore should inform our actions or emphasize them, not direct or power them. Feelings are like 3 year olds. It’s okay to have them in the car, good or bad, loud or quiet, cute or ugly, nice or nasty as dog’s breath. JUST DON’T LET THEM DRIVE.

The prevailing thought is that something must be wrong with us when we’re afraid, that it means we are faithless. But we’re only wrong for giving in to our fear, not for having it. We’re only wrong if we let it drive us away from God. It can’t if we don’t turn the wheel over.

We Christians are fond of saying two things:  1) God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. We conclude that if God didn’t give it to us, that The Enemy did. But did he? Can he do anything other than lie? Does he give us fear, or does he merely use it against us, distorting the truth with it? He uses lies to bring all of our feelings, good or bad, including fear, to the surface in hopes that we will allow them to drive us, making us our own gods and therefore drawing us away, so we can be enticed further.

2) Perfect love casts out fear. We take that to mean we are never supposed to be afraid. But God’s problem is not with how we feel, but with how we respond, whatever our feelings (“Be angry and sin not”).  He doesn’t charge us with the responsibility of casting out fear. That is the job of Perfect Love. It is His job if we will permit Him to do it. When we don’t, we are allowing fear to make Perfect Love irrelevant in us and ultimately through us. I think we also assume incorrectly that the fear we feel must be gone BEFORE we move forward. Rather, we should be moving forward with COURAGE. Courage is fear temporarily transformed and made useable by properly placed faith. How?

There’s this image I’ve been seeing a lot over the past couple of days or so, and I keep sensing that it is how I should respond when I am afraid.

I see this problem, project, person, promise, whatever, that is clearly bigger than I am. The problem is bigger than any solution I can come up with. The project is bigger than my ability to complete it. A person’s offense against me seems bigger than my willingness to forgive. Or my need for his/her approval is bigger than my own opinion of myself. Or my envy causes their life to become bigger and more impressive to me than God’s grace in my own life. The promise is bigger than my expectation or my disappointment has eaten away at my hope. Whatever the case, I hear the footsteps of something gigantic, and I am afraid to move, even though I know I’m supposed to.

Now common instinct finds me looking up to marvel at how big the giant is. Scary. Common wisdom tells me I should hide, cower, or run to avoid being trampled underfoot. But in the vision, I don’t do either.

In the vision, I don’t look up, and I don’t turn around. I get down on my knees, put my ear to the ground and listen. That seems odd to my logical mind. Giants are not quiet walkers. Do I really need to put my ear to the ground to hear one I already know is approaching? Plus, the closer I get to the ground, the louder the footsteps become, right? Not to mention, in this posture, to the giant, I look like a roach asking to get squashed.

But when I do this counter-intuitive, atypical, strange and peculiar thing, I hear God’s still small voice come up to me through the ground. It whispers, “That giant is big. I’m bigger than that giant.” That’s all He says. And I realize in that moment that it’s all He needs to say… because the next move is mine.

I have to believe Him. Not believe IN Him, but believe Him, the One in whom we all live, move, and have our being. The One for whom NOTHING is impossible. The One who loves me perfectly and knows me entirely, all the way down to my naked fear and trembling.

Courage is fear made useable by properly placed faith. Faith is the belief that God is who He says He is. Faith comes by hearing what He says. Hearing comes by listening. His whisper will drown out the sound of everything else if I just bow down, put my ear to the earth, and wait for it.

FDR was wrong. We need not fear “fear itself.” To be sure, God did not give us a spirit of fear, but with power, love, and a sound mind, He can use fear as an invitation to draw closer to Him so He can tell us what to do about those giants. And if we take Him at His word, He will give us the courage we need to kill every single one of them.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: