When was the FIRST time that you realized that what you were feeling was fear? Strange question?
It struck me this week that I can remember learning to tie my shoe for the first time (an older girl taught me when I about 3 years old). I can remember the first college basketball game I attended (Memphis State and Keith Lee). I remember my first concert (I am a little embarrassed to say it was Steven Curtis Chapman… now, my second was RUSH and they opened with Tom Sawyer… Epic.)
There are a lot of FIRSTS that I can remember. BUT I cannot remember the FIRST time I FEARED.
I definitely remember fearful times in my life. The first day of Kindergarten was terrifying. I cried. Singing a solo at church when I was 8 ended with a disaster. I forgot the words and went mute while the taped accompany played on. In my adult life, my first panic attack. I thought I was having a stroke. We were in a new city and so my wife tried to find the hospital. We couldn’t… so, the first responders met us in a Kroger parking lot. They had me breath into a brown bag to get my hyperventilation under control. Wow. Yes this happened. And they said “sir, we believe you are having a panic attack.”
Fear. I remember the events well but the FIRST fear?
Why is the FIRST Fear so hard to remember? I believe it is because fear is so prevalent and apart of our normal psyche. We live with it daily. We are either overwhelmed by it. We ignore it. We stuff it. We might even try to counter it with various forms of entertainment, food, sex, drink.
Why does fear have this effect? Fear defined is an “unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” It has been said that 95% of the things that we fear don’t even occur. We all know FDR’s famous statement “The only thing we have to fear Is fear itself” But we FEAR.
Fascinating. Fear is caused by the BELIEF of someone or something that is dangerous. A BELIEF. It is not something that has actually come true. It is a BELIEF! So, where is the relief? How do we find hope in our fear?
The Scriptures call us to BELIEVE differently.
In Isaiah 57:11 God calls his people to believe differently. “Whom did you dread and fear, so that you lied, and did not remember me, did not lay it to heart? Have I not held my peace, even for a long time, and you do not fear me?” God was calling Israel away from idolatry and into Himself. Why? Is this a power play? I would suggest not. God was simply calling them and us away from reflected glory to the source of glory and grace! This is a repeated call. In Isaiah 43 God says “Do not fear… I am the holy one of Israel… your savior.” The refrain of scripture is to call us away from making the created our savior and seeing God as our hope.
But notice the progression of redemptive history. In the NT, God does not just call us to Himself but in Jesus, we have God come to us. He comes to us in the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection. God invites us to lay hold of Jesus. It is a call to our fearful heart into His love, peace and rest. 1 John states There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear.
What an invitation to a different kind of belief. Instead of masking our fears we are invited into the one who faced the fear of the cross for you and me. Personally, I want to continually grow in this kind of hope and love!
Hymn writer E.E. Hewitt wrote:
My faith has found a resting place
From guilt my soul is free
I trust the Ever-living One
His wounds shall plead for me.
I need no other argument
I need no other plea
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me