Fear. We’ve all experienced it. At times we’ve imagined reasons to be fearful. Maybe we’ve wrestled with it. We might have run from it. We might have met it head on. One thing is certain, fear is real. It can be debilitating, causing physical ailments of all sorts and preventing us from living in the fulness of Christ.
Recently I had the joy of witnessing my granddaughters, ages 3 and 1, meet a real fear head on; touching the leg of a Daddy Long Leg spider. Oh my! Oh the chatter as the older was encouraging the younger to be “brave,” assuring her that the spider won’t bite, going so far as to tap the leg to prove her point as the younger watched with awe. Then, slowly, she advanced toward the dreaded, yet fascinating spider with long, skinny legs. Another step. Hesitation, with fingers in the mouth as toddlers do. After repeating the pattern; a few steps forward, pause, reassurance from big sister, fingers in the mouth, finally, with great trepidation her adventurous spirit won out. Quickly, with lightning speed, she touched a long, skinny leg! Oh my!
Her elation was evident in her coy smile as she retreated back to safety while the 3 year old commended her with, “Good job! I’m so surprised! You are so brave!” The victory was hers! She had conquered her fear! Moments later, when the spider fell, overcome by fear both girls screamed, “He comin’!” as they retreated in leaps and bounds. This routine repeated several times. As adults we often approach our fears likewise - three steps forward, pause, two steps back, shriek, repeat.
Some fears can be healthy - poisonous critters, huge waves, dark alleys, and roller coaters are a few of mine. For me, they are best to avoid. You can fill in your own list of things or places that command what I like to call a ‘healthy respect’ in your life.
But there is a fear, as believers, we must conquer - the fear of man. Specifically, the fear of sharing the love of Christ with the lost. We read in John 7:13, “But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.” The people were silenced by fear of the venomous, self-righteous religious leaders. Some were drawn to Him, yet they remained quiet. They had much to learn of the Messiah and the cost of discipleship, as do all of His followers.
A missionary friend who served in a war torn land had the opportunity to bring his family along on one such journey. One of the indigenous men remarked that he shouldn’t have taken his children to their dangerous land. His reply knocked my socks off! “Does Jesus love my children more than He loves yours?” No, no He doesn’t. In my small faith I hadn’t thought of it that way. I knew I had much to learn.
In 1989 I had the opportunity to return with my mother to her homeland for the first time in almost 50 years since her escape. Still under Soviet communist rule, fear overwhelmed me as I stepped past the security officer who was glaring with an ominous gaze. Silently I prayed “Oh God, You did lead me here, please protect us.” Immediately the fear vanished and peace replaced it. We traveled the countryside and visited relatives. We went to observe her childhood home (from the outside) that had been remodeled into apartments. Upon seeing the window to what was her bedroom where she tucked in her one and only doll, as she packed only food and clothing for their escape, I sensed how great the pain and fear of departure to the unknown had been. We met people whose lives were ruled by fear of the great power of the government. I had much more to learn.
And then it happened. One evening as about sixteen of us sat in the living room I (reluctantly - due to fear) began a conversation about the Lord. These dear people whose churches had been burned and Bibles forbidden for nearly 50 years were thirsty. They were parched for the truth. An old, well hidden Bible was brought forth. I did my best to answer their questions and explain the plan of salvation articulately in the language I first learned as a child. Then something remarkable happened - the entire room quieted and everyone was inquisitively listening. Never had I experienced such an audience, especially amongst relatives! The time had come for the Bible to be opened again. Several years later I learned that one who confessed Christ during my visit was killed in a tragic accident. God’s time, although unknown to us, is perfect.
We can’t assume on the hearers response. We aren’t responsible for that. We are to tell and pray and trust that the Lord’s will will be done. And then to rest in that truth, trusting Him, trusting His time, trusting fear to be abated for the next time we have the opportunity to witness of the Christ. In this chapter more will be revealed about His time, His relatives, His audience, His Father, and His Spirit. We have much to learn.
I’m honored and privileged to be a part of the DITL team.
Much love and peace to all,