Fear Not

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So a quick peak behind the scenes for us all: Every month we have to write our Spire articles on the 5th, to be ready for the next month’s release on the first. For instance, to be included in the October issue of the Spire, I would have to turn in a column by September 5th. This is all well and good, but with my failing memory (having twins is hard folks) it is often the case that someone will come up to me somewhere around the first of the month and say “I really liked your Spire article!” To which I will have to respond “Oh, thanks! What did I write about again?”

That happened a lot this month. A whole bunch of people seemed to really resonate with the topic of fear. In case you don’t know, you can go here to check out this month’s edition. But in the article I talked about how much we have fear, and how often we need to feel the hand of God holding ours in the deeply fearful times.

One of the pieces that I think resonated with folks a whole bunch was this idea that there are 365 times in the Bible where God, or an angel of God, shows up on the scene and says “Do not be afraid!” I love this for so many reasons. On the one hand, it would appear that God knew in advance that we would need a near daily reminder that our fears are nothing compared to his power, that we would need a constant reminder that we don’t need to be afraid when God’s on the case. That’s a good bit of comfort for me.

But I wonder if there’s another layer to this that stays just out of sight for us. The fear that God or God’s angels are trying to diminish is the fear that shows up in us because God and God’s angels have shown up on the scene. When I ask the Veritas students about this, they all agree that to see an angel show up would be pretty frightening stuff! Even if an angel looks, sounds, and seems just like us, the impression we get from the Bible is that these angels just show up from time to time out of the deep blue nowhere. Imagine all of a sudden a guy in bathrobes was standing next to your computer as you were reading this. I’m guessing you’d dial 911.

I wonder how frequently we’re afraid not of snakes, or our politics, or our failures, but rather we’re afraid that God would get involved in our lives? I know it’s true for me from time to time. Generally, I think of myself as a pretty good and capable person. I think I know how to set goals and run after them. I know how to be a professional. And I think all of that is good. But what if God showed up to any part of that life that I think I have completely under control, and going exactly as I had planned, and told me that things needed to change. I bet there would be some fear in that. I bet there would be some trepidation.

I think we all respond to that particular fear a bit differently. Some of us would rather not be bothered, so we just avoid God all together. We don’t go to church, we don’t sing in the choir, we don’t read the Bible. We just go about our happy little lives unaware that God is trying to get our attention. I’m guessing based solely on the face that you are reading this blog that you are not in that category.

Then there are those of us who actively fight God’s word in our lives. We hear what God has to say to us, we understand that God wants us to change, we know that God has a better path forward for us. We just don’t want to be bothered with all of that. We fight, kicking and screaming like a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed (this is life experience folks. It’s ugly). My guess would be again, that if you are reading this blog post, this isn’t you. You are at least open to the idea that God wants to reach in and offer some growth and challenge in your life.

The third category is where things get interesting. I think that some of us would in fact be open to what God wants to do in and with our lives, but we get a bit lost in what we’re already doing. Angels may be standing right next to us asking us not to be afraid, but it’s hard to hear over all the signal interference of soccer games and bridge clubs and late night committee meetings. We’re walking around a bit like Mr. Magoo, blissfully unaware of all the adventure that unfolds around us.

To be sure, I’m more often in this third camp than I’d like to admit. Training ourselves to see God at work in our lives is something that takes constant action, discipline, and practice. Opening ourselves up to God’s plan for us is a posture that requires attention and focus. I think when God shows up in the Scripture and says “Do not be afraid,” he’s talking to people like you and I. Yes, whatever God has for us may be a bit frightening, particularly if it catches us by surprise. But I think God knows that. It’s worked in to the cost of business. God is most interested in keeping us on the path, and so will work as hard as possible to keep fear at bay.

So what fears do you have to lay down today?

Next Week: Fear of Failure.

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