Fear's Offering

Fear attacks in the cover of darkness when all the world is quiet, hounding us as we cast our gaze over our shoulders, again and again. 

They say that you shouldn’t run from a bear should you encounter one in the wild. They (whoever they are) say to stand your ground, to make yourself big, to back away slowly but not too slowly. I’ve never heard anyone say to run toward the danger. If you tangle with a bear there’s a good chance the bear will win. Fear is a different kind of beast. Most of the time fear is puffed up and not as dangerous as it is threatening. Even if what we fear eventually happens, fear will have already taken more than he deserved, distracting us from the beauty found along the path that leads to life. 

The reality is most of the time what we fear doesn’t happen. We gave it our attention for no good reason.

I am not fearless but I am willing to face my fears, at least most of them. I think. Like most people, I am tempted not to go into the forest because of the possibility of encountering a bear. I can’t be destroyed by a bear if I stay in the house. 

    If I do not go I will not smell the leaves under my feet turning to dirt, nor hear the trilling song of birds along a gurgling stream rushing over gravel beds on it’s way to the river. Nor will I pick a wild strawberry and taste its tart acid upon my tongue. I won’t encounter a bear and I won’t live. I will never sing praise in the shade of the forest to the God who created it and said it was good.

 Fear reminds us of our vulnerability. It’s the vulnerability we hate even more than fear. We think we might be able to shake the fear, but vulnerability is a wild thicket of a beast that will never be killed back. We hate that control is an illusion. Even if we never encounter a bear, we know we might die sitting in a chair having never encountered the things that offered us laughter, or tears, or gasps of wonder——anything that would have made the hairs on our arms stand up and tell us that we are alive.

And fear throws his head back with glee to know he has set us up to live in the mire of regret. No one can get back the days given over to fear.

Control is the fruit in the garden. Every day we are tempted to take it into our flesh again. And now, we know who we are. We thought it would be good for us; we deserved to know, to decide for ourselves; being rational, it made so much sense.

 Control has such a bitter aftertaste.

There is hope; there is always hope. God is near, calling our name as we hide in the bushes. He has found us in our nakedness and covered us in his grace. Only in abiding in Him can we step from the bushes to live full, abundant—free from fear. free to love.

Love pitches his tent by a stream by the Tree with those deep, deep roots. Fear puts down his stakes in the backyard, surrounded by a privacy fence. He goes to sleep under the spell of the neighbor’s air conditioner.

Living in fear is not only a sin problem; it’s a trust problem— and at its very core, it’s a love problem.


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