Have been thinking a lot about fear these past few days. Have been feeling it, too. Not liking it very much conceptually or emotionally.
I broke down and tried to tell a friend about it. We were having our weekly Bible study (currently we’re translating and studying the Gospel of Mark). Before we dive into the text, we spend some time catching up and sharing what’s been happening in our lives. She asked me if I had been doing any writing and I had to confess that I had been too frozen by fear to be creative at all. She didn’t get it. I don’t blame her, neither do I.
I am facing a day in the very near future when I will bring to a close a very shame-filled part of my life. March 26th should be a time of celebration, but I am afraid that some kind of hiccup in the system is going to happen and instead of an end I will just experience a never-ending dark hanging over my life. My fear isn’t completely unfounded for in the middle of this “sentence” there was legislation that temporarily snatched away the hope of an end. It was a very dark time for me. I found that living without hope of end of pain, emotional in my case, is difficult to say the least.
My friend went on to ask me how my faith was impacting this fear. Her question implied that if I had faith then I wouldn’t have fear. I wish it were that simple. Perhaps the problem is that for me, it’s not just about fear–it’s really about control. Who’s really in control of my life and can I trust the one who is in control to do a better job of managing my life than I can? What if He takes me to a place that is overwhelmingly difficult? Why can’t I have some of the ease that others get?
Thinking this way took me on a journey through scriptures that should bring me comfort and contentment. There is the verse that is often quoted from Jeremiah, that God has plans for, plans that involve hope and a future, is generally taken out of context. If you read the entire chapter, you find that God has put his people in a very dangerous exile and told them to get comfortable. Job, asks a question that echoes what these folks must have been feeling and fearing: shall we take the good and not the bad? Life must have looked better to the one to whom the Psalmist wrote Psalm 37. He or she seemed to be in a difficult place and when they looked around them people who were living rough and faithless lives seemed to be prospering. It didn’t seem fair.
Ok. Everything written up to this point is from yesterday and before. What a difference a day makes. Or at least, what a difference a sermon can make. I had one of those moments this morning when I was almost positive that my pastor had been reading my emails, blogs, or mind this week. His message was straight from God’s heart to mine. (And I told him so, too.)
The title of the message was “Victory and Deliverence.” He used Acts 12:1-11 as his text. It was one of his more powerful and spirited sermons. Or maybe it just seemed that way, since it felt like he was sharing it just with me. I was most affected by the first half, the part about victory. He shared that he had a thought, one that didn’t come from his many books and it impacted his preparation. “Victory doesn‘t require winning.” He spoke about trusting God and not being concerned about the outcome. The pump was primed for me during the offertory, of all things. The pianist played a beautiful arrangement of “Because He Lives.” As I listened to the music, I was totally captured by the phrase: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone.” Looking at the pieces individually may not have the same impact for you, but it just about knocked me over.
Pastor didn’t know about my nagging fear. He knows March 26 is coming for me, but he had no idea how I had been struggling. The pianist has no clue about my fear or the importance of March 26 for me. Yet both she and the pastor, in obedience to God shared exactly what I needed to hear to get me through this trying time.
Tuesday, the 27th, may not be any different than the day before. Some emergency law may go into effect that in effect snatches away my intensely anticipated and longed for freedom, but I know I’ll be okay.
To seal the deal for me, one of the major points in this morning’s Sunday School lesson (which the co-teacher taught today, not me) was that we need to have a “so be it” attitude (think Mary speaking to the angel about being God’s handmaden, or Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene) in our relationship with God, especially as it pertains to our prayer life.
I no more know what the 26th or 27th will hold any more than I know what’s going to happen in the next minute, hour, or day. What I do know is that I know who’s I am. I know that whatever the plan is, wherever the path leads, I can trust the maker of path and plan to have what’s best for me–even when I can’t see it or don’t understand. I have already been delivered from the worst and am a victor through Christ. And really, what more do I need? I can’t think of anything.
Funny. I don’t feel afraid anymore. And the only thing that’s changed is me.