I don’t know what it was this week. The topic of fear came up with notable regularity. It started with some of my own fears rising up in the secret place in my heart. Then repeatedly, in conversation with others as the week progressed. Not because I had introduced the topic. It just popped up. I feel like It happened enough that it deserved a post.
Fear has always had a root in my life. As a child I would cry myself to sleep, frightened of disaster, my parents getting hurt, or abduction. Fear of big, unknown, scary things. One night my Mom happened upon me. She listened to my fears through my sobbing, rubbed my back and prayed over me. God’s peace flooded my heart with power. With mercy and grace his love brought dramatic and quick change. I never cried myself to sleep again with those specific fears haunting my heart. It was the first gentle pulling of the root.
Over the years, different fears have risen. I learned to run to God with them, in time, disciplining my thoughts to cling to God’s promises. Bit by bit he tugged at the root. Each fear I brought to him was gently over time tugged out of my heart. There was never a hole left, just the beautiful peace that passes understanding.
So many fears can flood our hearts. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing people, fear of their judgement, fear of failure itself, fear of what others will think of us. Fear of rejection, expectations, or demands that are placed on us. We can fear for our futures, for the future of our children and loved ones. But this is not what God wants for us.
God wants us to thrive. We cannot do that under the weight of fear. It crushes us. God wants us to have freedom. Fear entraps us and chains us, binding us. God desires that we boldly obey. We cannot do that when we fear people. We will shy from what we are called to, pleasing man instead of God. He wants us to trust. Fear screams loudly, it has to be stilled in order for us to trust. Fear keeps our eyes on the storm rather than on the Creator who commands it.
The only fear that has a place in my life is fear of The Lord. He is holy and just. I know him to be gentle, loving and merciful. He has disciplined me when I have been stubborn and rebellious. He is holy and was right to discipline me. It is knowledge of who he really is that creates a proper fear in our lives.
My own Dad lived as a godly example to us. He wouldn’t want me to make him sound perfect. He is human, flawed. He lived in a way that gave me a good picture of my Heavenly Father though. I did not obey and honor my Father because I feared his anger. I can’t really even remember a time when he raised his voice to us in anger. Dad was calm, self controlled, loving. I feared putting him in a position of having to discipline me, I feared hurting him with my disobedience. This has taught me the proper way to fear The Lord.
Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
God has been coaxing my fear out and replacing it with peace and trust. It is a journey that won’t be finished this side of heaven. It is a process. My God is faithful, he does the work patiently and at the right time. He has filled his word with promises to cling to. I need only come to him and invite him into the fear. There he shows me who He is and what He can do. In that place my eyes shift from the storm and find the face of the Creator who is in control of all.
Here are some verses that have been meaningful over the years:
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 41:10, 13, 14
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Israel’s Only Savior
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
“Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
or be terrified by their insults.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.
Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
God has become my shield and my refuge. He has shown himself faithful and trustworthy to his promises!