Wednesday, March 26, 2008


What are you afraid of?

This week the issue of fear has come up in a number of conversations with people, and in the gospel lesson for this coming Sunday as well. We have talked about fear when it comes to understand different aspects of faith, fear when it comes to living out our lvies of faith, fear of the unknown, and even fear of change. There is a lot of fear in the world, and this fear can either paralyze us or it can challenge us to grow.

Growing up my greatest fear was snakes - I still hate the critters. I always had fears of being bitten (growing up in rattlesnake country) and what might happen if I was. For a while this fear kept me from playing on the Rims (some rock formations that surrounding Billings that were breeding grounds for rattlers) and exploring with my friends. Because of this fear I kept from having a lot of fun. Finally, a friend of mine pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me up on the Rims to explore. The snakes were still there, but if I was careful, and respected the snakes and their space, things were fine.

If we let fear dictate our lives, we miss out on a lot. We miss new experiences, we miss time with friends and family, we miss growing in a variety of ways.

I think one of the keys with our fears is to face them - and to do so with the support and care of others. The disciples were afraid of what might happen to them after Jesus was raised from the dead - and they holed themselves up in a locked room - paralyzed to move. But after they were blessed by the risen Jesus, and given the gift of the Spirit, together they faced their fears and continued the mission, the opportunity, that they were given to form the church.

We need to do the same thing when it comes to our fears - to gather with others and face the fears we have. We still respect the fears - as I respected the snakes - but we do not let the fears govern our lives. In doing this we are freed to experience the great gifts of God in new and exciting ways.

So my question today is - what do you fear? And how can we, the Church, the body of Christ, help you to face those fears and continue to grow?


lula said...

Fear isn't necessarily bad. It's okay to be afraid to jump off a cliff without a parachute or to be afraid to swim out into the middle of the ocean with whales. We also have irrational fears. However, they aren't irrational TO US. I'm sure my fear of dead mice isn't irrational. I COULD face this fear by going through desensitization but that seems silly. I don't have to deal with dead mice every day and I have no desire to become upclose and personal with dead mice. If there's something we fear on a day-to-day basis that's interfering in our lives, we need to decide if we're willing to take the risk and face whatever it might be, to be brave enough to ask someone to help us face it, or to choose to continue to live with that fear.

Betty Dygart said...

When we are children, our parents try to instill fear into us, in order to keep us safe. While this is understandable, sometimes it goes "over the top," and rather than creating a healthy fear, children can be traumatized by irrational fears. I guess the line between rational and irrational fear comes down to establishing some kind of balance.

How do we develop a respectful level of fear, just enough to make us careful, without becoming phobic individuals?

When I was in grade school, I had a fear of getting up and giving an oral report. I remember how I dreaded it. The only way I overcame this was by forcing myself to join the forensics team in high school. It wasn't easy, but I soon learned to concentrate on my message, stop centering on myself, and what I imagined others were thinking as they looked at me.

So, yes, I agree that the only way to conquer your fears is to confront them. But that takes a certain level of self-examination and the will to change what has become a primary behavior. Changing such behaviors is difficult. Some people never confront their fears.

The familiar hymn "Have No Fear Little Flock" tells us to trust in the will of the Father who has "chosen to give you the kingdom." What have we to fear if God has "stooped down to heal us" and "stays close beside us?" Those are comforting words.

Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:7, states that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

What, then, have we to fear? As long as God is with us, and we keep ourselves mindful of that, there is nothing to fear, not even death, for Jesus has conquered death for us on the cross.

My prayer today is that we each reach within ourselves to touch the courage exemplified by Christ Jesus. This courage is waiting inside of us to burst forth "in a spirit of power, love and self-discipline."