In the year 2002 I travelled to Costa Rica with one of my good friends Sherien. We loved to travel together on several occassions, mainly because our travelling styles were so similar. We would enjoy hours and hours of talking and talking and talking…but also gave each other lots of alone time to do our own thing.
On one particular afternoon I was enjoying some of this alone time. I had walked down to the beach, which was quite a hike from the hotel, and found a pier of rocks that travelled pretty far into the water. I stood at the end of the pier and relished in being far away from everyone and everything. I stood, soaking in the sun, loving the fact that I was all alone. At least that’s what I thought.
When I turned around to return to shore I discovered I had an audience..two ferocious looking dogs who stood side by side…staring at me. I froze. My heart was gripped with fear. There really wasn’t anywhere for me to go ….though looking back I wonder why I didn’t just jump into the ocean. And so I decided the best thing to do was begin a slow and steady walk back to shore, right passed them, praying that they would have no interest in coming after me. I cannot tell you how I felt inside.
I’ll spoil the ending and tell you that nothing happened. I lived to tell about it.
Have you ever been in a similar situation where fear took over your entire body? Leaving you paralyzed, shocked, almost incapable of thinking, fear has a way of completely consuming us.
Lately I’ve found myself really having to battle fears…most of them irrational or completely unnecessary. Like the other night, after putting Amanda to bed I went downstairs to wait for shady to come home. And I was so afraid. What was I afraid of? Not entirely sure, but that didn’t make the fear less real or easy to endure. Without any warning at all, fear crept in on me as it often does.
In fact I often fall prey to my fears, many of them springing from two of my least favorite words: “what if?”
- What if Shady doesn’t make it home safely?
- What if something happens to Amanda when I’m not looking?
- What if a horrible war breaks out in our country?
- What if I get sick?
- What if shady discovers how annoying I actually am??!!!
My problem with these what if questions is that I often go from “what if” to “It now is”. Within a matter of seconds my fear becomes a reality in my head, and I’m left struggling with a fear that completely blinds me from the God who is my all wise and Sovereign Lord.
The Bible has a lot to say about fear. And much like everything else it has to say, it’s message is completely contrary to what the world has to say.
The world tells us that we need to look within ourselves for strength. No one can help me but me. But the Bible says “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
The world tells us that as long as nothing bad is actually happening that there is no reason to be afraid. But the Bible says that even though something bad or difficult is happening, there is still no room for fear. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
The world says that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The Bible says that there is something to fear: the wrath of God for our sin. But that the believer’s punishment for sin has been paid for in the cross, and that through the resurrection of Christ the fear of the grave has been defeated. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory! O death, where is your sting!” 1 Corinthians 15:55
I know these verses. When I read them I think “Good verse, I already knew it, but it’s a good reminder.” But it’s not important to just know the verse, it’s important to believe the verse to the point of living it out. It’s important to build my life on these truths and stand firm on them when fear enters in. And when my mind begins to travel into the arena of “what if” questions, I need to spend my time dwelling on these truths, rather than dwelling on all the things that cause my heart to fear.
I don’t think I’m alone in this battle with fear. In fact I’m pretty confident that all of us endure the same thing. The cause for fear may be different, but we definitely share the reality of it in our lives. So as believers, let’s encourage each other with the truth of these words. Sow them into each other’s lives. When we share the things that are troubling our hearts, rather than say “Wow, that sounds difficult, I’m sure you’ll be fine,” let’s point each other to the only anchor and rock for our souls…the Word of God.