Fear Factor

I don’t remember what sparked it, but either talking about fear last night or this morning with someone put a thought in my head that I’ve been off and on playing with today. I doubt I am in the minority of writers when I say I often write from my own experience. I have had a lot going on lately and in many ways, it’s one of those times where I want 2 + 2 to = 4 again.

I find I could be in good company. I always get a comfort when I read about Paul who talked about fears within and about how he wanted to see his friends so that he would have less anxiety. I remember a professor of mine once said you could put the Pauline epistles in one hand and a book of abnormal psychology in the other and you’ll find Paul had a lot of his own struggles.

Yet I find the fears I face are those from within, and those are the worst kind. Now there could be external factors involved. There is one event in my life I am still dealing with that came up recently and there’s also my preparing to go to Seminary which leaves one with a whole host of doubts and questions, as well as the realization that a friend of mine who I’m quite close with is getting married before I.

Yet I find the worst fears are those of uncertainty. They involve looking at one’s life and just wondering about all the events that have happened and what the future holds. I also find something else in this. I find that if there is anything that is good at destroying pleasure and happiness, it is fear.

<>┬áThink about it. Can you really enjoy anything when you are living in fear? Can you be happy and afraid at the same time? Pleasure and fear are incompatible. Pleasure involves a relaxation and a freedom from that which is negative. Fear is always negative. I don’t think caution is. Caution is good. Fear isn’t.

I believe fear also gets us to believe that which isn’t true, but it does start with something that is true. I have a fear of heights for instance and I can’t stand being on ladders. Now I can be up somewhat and have the thought, “If I fall, it will hurt.” I think it’s quite likely that that’s true. However, it then becomes “If you go any higher, you will fall.” Then it’s “Don’t stand where you are. This ladder’s gonna collapse.” Fear always likes to play out the worst-case scenario.

But why does it make things false? Simple. If we saw the truth, we would not have fear. If we saw the God who is in control of all things, we would have no fear. Fear then is the making of something into what it is not. In my own life for instance, I find I can have a sort of “Crisis of the Week” that will seem to have the whole fate of my personal universe involved, and the next week, it’s gone. It’s not answered or refuted. Just gone. I look back and find I was making a mountain out of a molehill and say “I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with that again.” Unfortunately, those words never seem to hold over time.

If only for a glimpse we could break free of fear, and I think a good way to do so is to get off of ourselves. How many of you would like to rush into a burning building? Some adventurous thrillseekers might but most of us would say “No thanks,” when we saw the reality of one. Now change the scenario. Someone you love is inside that building and you can save them. Will you rush in and help? The number has probably sizably increased.

Fear is often about what happens to us. When we get off of ourselves, our fears can vanish. It is amazing how many of our fears can vanish when we have a case of infatuation for instance. However, something else along the same lines that makes our fears vanish is worship. Worship draws us into the presence of God and the celebration of who he is. How can fear reside with that?

I’ll grant all my readers this. Worship is hard then. It’s hard to worship God when you feel like you’re at your wits end and you’re not sure if you can trust him. We are to praise him in all things. The Philippians 4 passage comes to mind at this point. We are to praise him in all things. Whatsoever has what fits in that list Paul mentions is what we are to think about.

Dear Christian. Be released from fear today and pray that I am. Remember that even the shepherd needs some help every now and then.