I’ve been thinking a lot about Fear, mostly because I am very fearful.
Fear is so big, well, at least it seems that way. It is humongous and covers every part of our lives in different ways—and in saying that, I don’t mean that constantly, we are fearful (although I’m pretty close), but that there are different ways fear sneaks into every area. Whether it’s the Fear that comes from a rollercoaster or the fear that comes from losing a job, death, financial problems, the list goes on.
Now, I capitalize Fear in these instances because I think sometimes it can be helpful to look at it in almost a humanized sense. It makes it easier to understand it as the serious thing it is—Fear is something we need to be actively working against, actively battling against, because it is a tool the Enemy uses to distort our Purpose and make us as ineffective as possible. Obviously, there is Good fear—Fear of God (essentially, humbleness and awareness of His Awesomeness; this type of Fear rides on a little bit of a different definitional plane), instinctual fear (like, if a bear is about to attack you)—these kinds of fear are both important and necessary for us to survive and live a good life. And I would be fearful of someone who was not worried about a bear trying to attack them, but maybe that’s just me. But what I want to talk about today is the bad Fear—the controlling Fear, the life-altering, overtaking, incapacitating kind of Fear.
With only moments of being unattended and allowed to roam free, Fear becomes the writer of our story. I can recall one too many times where I decided not to go somewhere (usually Church, not very subtle Kingdom of Hell) because my fear of dying in a car accident was so overwhelming for up to 3 hours before I would even leave the house. I can recall other times, too, where I haven’t prayed over someone or spoken Words of Life to the person right in front of me because I heard the voice of Fear very distinctly “remind” me that, in stepping out, I may also be stepping into rejection. If only I could return to all those moments and say, boldly, to myself “This isn’t a battle for your acceptance but an offensive move against the Kingdom of Hell for the souls of those held captive.”
There will be many moments to come where I hope I will bold enough to say such a thing when Hell’s hand tries to lay hold of my service to Heaven’s Kingdom. There will be many moments to come where I hope my current ratio of saying “yes” to Jesus in a more public way will overcome my current record of consistent no’s and purposeful distractions of my own attention.
This same Fear that renders us ineffective for the Gospel also adores seeing us rendered incapacitated by uncertainty.
All day, all week, most of the month, I’ve felt that underlying sense of Panic try to creep in and steal any sense of Foundation. My fear at the impact of this global pandemic seems to have reached some sort of peak. And then, in the middle of a regular conversation about something totally different, someone said, “I leave it in the hands of God.” And in that moment, I felt so much Peace. It is as if I had forgotten the burdens of worry, uncertainty, lack of safety, anxieties of potential loss, could be taken off my shoulders by the Hands That Hold the Stars and the Back That Bore the Cross. Nowhere in the Bible are we asked to carry Fear of man, disasters, or even Hell itself, but we are repeatedly commanded to cast off our worry, lay down our Fear, and run to Him—” Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)
Where we draw ever-closer to the Presence, so we draw ever farther away from Hell-Fear’s impact on our individual Lives and on the collective Life of the Church, of the Body.
The opposite of fear is not blind bravery, carelessness, or thoughtless action, it’s Love. And we have been unequivocally honored to serve and BE ADOPTED BY LOVE HIMSELF. With Love Himself as our Father, we have access to endless stores of the very Essence of what Fear loathes. Perfect Love castes out all Fear, and thank God (literally) we have unlimited, unhindered access to Perfect Love Himself, any time, any place.
But we must be careful to keep a close eye on Fear—for Fear comes into our lives, sometimes in obvious, flashy ways, but it is often over the long-term, in the quiet, in the ignored, in the neglected—it is in the darkness that Fear begins to freely claim what it wants.
Fear loves to tell us that God will not come through—and of course Fear loves to tell us that! When the only thing that can truly cast out all Fear is Perfect Love, Fear will do everything it can to distance us from its Enemy, Who is Perfect Love. We are either moving toward Love or toward Fear, and if you believe yourself to be stagnant in that tension, it will be the latter toward which you are moving. Fear will take our complacency, God will not. Where we are not actively walking in Holiness, in Fruitfulness, and in Faith, Fear will become our Number One, and we will wonder why we are missing out on Joy, Fruit, and Fullness. We will ask, “Why can’t I hear the voice of God?” after we have sprinted miles away from the Source of His Love and Goodness. Even as His Love pursues us in our Fearfulness, so it drowns our His voice in our willingness to not fight back with Spirit Power.
I found this quote by Jennie Allen that I think does well to capture what I want to say: “We have to deal with fear because it is possible that it will make us miss the best parts of life.”
Fear works overtly, covertly, and in every possible way in every possible part of our lives because when we are Fearful, we doubt profusely because “How can a God that is so Good let me feel like this, let this happen?” And the crazy thing about Fear is that it blames God for what it does—the byproduct of Fear is distance from Love—distance from the Holy of Holies. Fear is the active agent in resewing the torn veil and taking us steps back from the Presence.
We were made to Love and be Loved—Fear in the very antithesis of our Created Purpose.
“…they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’” (Isaiah 35:3b-4)j
We win. The Kingdom of Hell does not have the final say—Fear and Anxiety do not have the final say because our God holds the Stars in His Hands, and He holds us.