The Immobilization of Fear

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
― Plato

“Do not be afraid; our fate
Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.”
― Dante AlighieriInferno

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Children of Húrin

I recently read on Facebook (whether it be true or not) about a new tactic that gangs are using as initiation. It seems like there is always some new horrific action required to join a gang that keep police departments on their toes trying to alert the general public. Whether true or not, close to home or far away, I was contemplating driving right to the police station and getting a concealed weapons permit. If some gang member wanna-be is gonna drive after me trying to shoot me and everyone in my car, well, I want to be able to shoot the sucker back. But really, I’m terrible with handguns and I have no idea where I’d conceal it anyways…so what were my options? I could stay at home and hide all day, only venturing out into the world to get groceries and go to church. But reality is, tragedy could  strike anywhere. I know it’s awful to think about but really, a gas leak could cause a house explosion, you could get in a car accident on the way to get groceries, you could be the victim of a random crime at the grocery store, or fall prey to hatred of religion while attending church. Anything could happen anywhere and anytime. And let’s face it. This is downright scary…and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is filled with fear by the thought of such horrid occurrences. So the question remains: how do we live amongst all these fears and possibilities? Do we hide away in our safe little homes, away from people, away from the world?

If you know anything about the life of the Apostle Paul and all of the tragedy he endured you probably will agree with me when I say that, as Christians we are called to face the fear that surrounds us and refuse to let it immobilize us. God commands us to “go into all the World”, and no one took this more seriously than the Apostle Paul. Really, who isn’t fearful about going into the world and preaching something that often leads to persecution and suffering. I;m sure Paul’s flesh was filled with fear, yet his Spirit filled “new man” was sustained by Godly peace. Paul didn’t let fear of being stoned, killed, or persecuted stop him from being a light in the world. In 2 Corinthians he writes ” For we do not want you to be ignorant, bretheren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired of life. Yes. We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that he will still deliver us. (1:8-10)”. And isn’t this heavenly weapon so much more useful than a gun? No matter where we are, and what tragedy could befall us our faith still remains. If we don’t remember that God is there, surrounding us, protecting us, bringing His will to pass as we live every moment it is so easy to become immobilized by fear. Paul didn’t let fear stop him from being a light in the world and allowing God to use him to bring many into the fold of faith.

Likewise, we should not allow fear to immobilize us. We need to go out into our little worlds and be a light. God doesn’t call us to sit at home with our fear, he calls us to GO. I hear so often about people who are immobilized by fear. Christians who pull their children from school because there was a bomb threat, those who stop going to church because they heard that somewhere some wacko went into a church and shot a lot of people. I even know someone who refuses to drive anywhere except the town they live in because they are just too afraid of what else lies beyond. I’ll admit. These choices make me sad. I get it; no one wants to put their kid in harms way. No one wants to put themselves in harms way. But the reality is, bad things can happen to anyone, anywhere. We can’t protect our kids from everything…it’s too much…and we just aren’t capable of doing it. God is the ultimate protector, and really, our children are His. It’s kind of this huge leap of faith that we take when we come to grips with reality: we can’t protect ourselves and our children from everything. But we can take comfort in the fact that there is a greater protector: the Almighty God.

I say these words to myself as I realize this truth. While this is a very depressing and not-so-fun-to-think-about topic it is reality nonetheless. Evil is all around us, and fear seeks to immobilize. But God calls us to put our trust in Him, accept the fact that He is the ultimate protector, and GO OUT INTO THE WORLD. If no one goes, there will be no light left in the world. If we all hide away in our safe little homes there will be no one left to be an Example for Him. Until Christ returns this world will be filled with evil. Even still, God calls…no, He commands us to step out into the world and live for Him. I personally don’t believe that this applies only to foreign missions. Our neighbors need to see the light that we bring just as much as the rest of the world. The elderly couple at the grocery store needs to see His light in you as much as someone in Africa. The people you see and are able to pray for while serving at a local soup kitchen need the hope that you bring as much as the poor in Albania. Even those gang members need to see His light.

There are many excuses we can make. I’m too busy to get involved in my community…I’m a mom, so I can’t really get out and do anything…I really am just too afraid….I might get sick if I volunteer somewhere…I don’t have time…I have to be somewhere else…the excuses are endless. But I think it’s time to stop using excuses to cover up our fear. The Apostle Paul didn’t just say that someone was threatening to kill him so he was going to stop preaching. No. He stood in the face of fear and possible death and carried on with God’s command. We need to do the same.

I hope that one day you realize this, Ellie. Do not let fear immobilize you. Do not be content to sit at home with a false sense of safety ignoring God’s command to be a light unto the world. Fear is all around you, and always will be, until He returns. In the meantime, God wants you to do everything you possibly can to bring His message of hope to those who are without hope. There are many excuses, but excuses they remain. Always remember the Apostle Paul, and seek to follow his example.

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