It has been a very, very long time since you have heard from me. I’m sorry. I’ve found myself fighting a very old enemy and, honestly, I haven’t been fairing well.
You see, I was panicking before it was popular. Seriously though, I’ve had panic attacks. I’ve had irrational fear. I’ve had social anxiety. I’ve had fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of success (yes it’s a thing), and fear of fear. I’ve never had stage-fright though (this is the point where everyone who has known me for a long time is giggling at their computer screens). The point is I’ve been battling with the wrong kind of fear for a very long time. It has slowed me down and kept me from many things, but in this time when the whole world is wrapped up in the wrong kind of fear….it took my voice.
The wrong kind of fear wrapped me up and… Took. My. Voice!
I couldn’t think of one thing that would be useful for any of you. I couldn’t think of one thing that I felt I could say. I couldn’t see for all of the panic around me. Instead I found myself, like so many others, on a binge diet of network news and an IV drip of Facebook.
This would not do.
So, it is time to examine both kinds of fear, the wrong and the right. I need to see why fear is a part of me and what has gone wrong. I say that because I believe that God gave us our emotions and our minds and I know for a fact that fear is a very basic part of our psychophysiology (been waiting years to use that word in a sentence, but I digress). Well, if God made me and fear is a basic response in me, what is going wrong that it now has such disastrous effects?
Follow me here for a bit as I ask you to use your imagination.
This is how I see it: Fear, as I know it, is like a giant, elaborately wrapped present. Think, overwhelmingly attractive, first gift to be picked and stolen in a White Elephant gift party, wrapping. When we see the wrapping we want to hold it and look at it forever, but that’s not how a present works, is it.
The first step when you receive a present is to take off that amazing wrapping. The temptation here for generations of grown women is to keep it “for later”. The problem for generations of toddlers is the idea that the pretty wrapping is the gift. Both of these groups draw a perfect picture of what I was doing with the “wrapping” (the panic attacks and the fear of change, etc.) on my fear present. I was keeping it. I was admiring it. But, attractive as it may be to sit in the dark with the voices of doom, that is not what you are to do with the “wrapping” is it? You throw that stuff away. You don’t need it taking up room in some overstuffed closet in your mind. Throw it away. This wrapping was not what the gifter wanted you to have. This is the wrong kind of fear and it will steal everything good away from you.
The second step is opening the box. The box is utilitarian; serving its original purpose. This is the original response in my body. This is the response that keeps me away from that rattling sound in a field. This is the response that keeps me from eating without washing my hands. The response that makes me question the motives of a stranger before following them blindly. The box is good. The box has a purpose. But the box is not the gift. If we stop here we will be deeply disappointed or at least bored and we will never receive the gift. This type of fear reveals nothing. It keeps you living, not alive.
The third step is the gift. Beautiful and precious, this is what the gifter, in this case God, wanted us to have when He gave us the present. This is what is referred to in the Bible as the “fear of the Lord”. This is what reminds us that God is Holy, God is Pure, God is Almighty and we are not. This is what keeps us humble in the almighty presence of God. This is the fear that leads to wisdom. This is the fear that I am truly thankful for.
If you are still unsure of the difference between the fear I have labeled “wrapping” and the fear of God here is a quick indication:
The fear the world gives you (and wraps the true gift in) will paralyze you and close you down. You will not see anything outside of the fear.
The fear of God gives you hope and freedom. You know that you are not the most powerful being. You can rest in the knowledge that He doesn’t have to rest and plan in the knowledge that His plan is perfect and even if your plan does not work out, He has it all in hand.
Yes, my gift analogy isn’t perfect. but I believe that it might help you as it helped me.
One last thing to remember: God didn’t wrap the gift, I did. My human mind grabbed what the world was offering and wrapped up the precious gift of fear with all the fancy, unnecessary, wrapping. Again, throw that stuff away! Do not keep it. It will just clutter up your heart and distract from the gift:
God is almighty.
The only one worthy of awestruck fear is God.
No one and nothing else is as big or as powerful.
This present time that scares us so much is not as big and as powerful as our God.
Keep this in mind as you remember that this awesome, powerful God is also the one who says He loves you. He is the one who made the ultimate sacrifice so that your impurity could be made pure and you could be with Him.
God Bless and Keep you,