Fear

I have run into a few scenarios of late that have evoked a chest-tightening anxiousness that is both uninvited and perplexingly incapacitating.

Fear.

The kind of fear that no logic dissipates, that no prayer removes, that no simple choice solves. In fact, the presence of fear and God”s “apparent” inactivity to just make it leave renders me frustrated and God seemingly impotent.

Enter doubt.

Doubt of God’s character, God’s love for me, God’s power in my life, God’s victory over the enemy.

I imagine many can point to this crossroads as the point at which they began to detour from a faith-filled life to a fear-filled life. And not because they particularly wanted fear, or even that their heart was calloused, but because perhaps it hurt too much to try and trust a God who seemed to not care. To trust a bible that says “Perfect love casts out fear,” only to pray and at the sound of “amen” find fear still staring them back in the face.

But something struck me this morning as I reviewed in my minds’ eye the last time fear threatened to take over, and the process in which it was cast off, and God gave me the sweetest revelation… here goes.

I shared my chest-tightening fear with my best friend. {His name is Marshall and he happens to be my husband.} He compassionately listened and prayed over me – for God to break me from fear and replace it with confidence.

May I note here that the anxiousness did not leave, even after he prayed. But he seeded something in that prayer that was about to bear fruit.

The moment that things shifted is when he pondered aloud, “I don’t know what it will take to remove the fear, to just choose to make it leave…”

At that, something leapt in my spirit. “I KNOW” I thought as 1 John 4:18 flooded my mind.

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God most often speaks through His word. It is getting it into us, stored up in our hearts so that He can draw it out of us when we most need to hear from Him that is our responsibility.

But then we need the holy spirit to illuminate for us how His word applies.

So here is what transpired in my heart and mind in the blink of an eye:

Truth: God loves me unfathomably. He does not change. He does not leave me.

Lie: If I experience fear, and perfect love drives out all fear, then God must not love me, or be as powerful as He says He is.

Truth: If God loves me all the time with this incomparable love, and I still experience fear, then it stands to reason that I am missing something.

The presence of fear does not negate God’s love. Nor does it mean that he is not present.

I repeat, my fear does not negate God’s love.

I prayed… “So what am I missing?”

And God in all his wisdom, answered.”If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. {James 1:5}

He reminded me that the word perfect in scripture denotes something very different than what we might think… it denotes completion; wholeness; when something reaches its end.

Love begins with God and ends with God, the alpha and the omega. If we think about it circularly, then we see that love originates in God, extends to us, and then we have the opportunity, the choice, to reflect that love back to Him!

So, when I pray about my fear… and my conversation remains focused on the fear and what God needs to do, the circle is broken. I might be talking to the One who loves me the most, but my eyes, my focus remain fixed on the thing that does not love me back. Love is not complete. It is as if God is wholeheartedly gazing at me, and while my mouth is directing words toward him, my whole heart is gazing at this fear-inducing love-sucker.

But once I have laid my fear before him, and when my heart lifts to the heavens; when I SHIFT MY GAZE and fix my eyes on Jesus; when I focus on who He says He is and begin to reflect, to return the love he has so graciously given me, then love is made complete. The circle is closed. Alpha loves me and I love Omega and love has reached it’s end.

Love is made perfect.

As looked back, it was in that moment that my fear left.

Perfect love cast out fear.

Did it threaten to enter back in? Did I have momentary heart palpitations? Yes.

But at that point, my God had a firm grip on my focus and fought to keep it. And He is pretty strong, if you didn’t know.

And peace continued to flood my heart.

After all was said and done, I walked away from said scenario, dumbfounded at the confidence in me, amazed by the ease of the situation and the love overflowing and the grace available.

And I praised my God.

My friends, if you have wrestled; if you have let fear dictate the direction of your faith; if you are tired of fear gripping you rather than the love of God, hold up.

Do not shame yourself. Do not think you need to work your way back into His presence. You are in it, right now. Your current conundrum is so very understandable, and He is so very compassionate.

And so I gently and humbly ask… would you reset your gaze? Would you look at Him and see?

He loves you. His love has never left you. There is another way to live.


3 thoughts on “Fear

  1. Good post. I’ve been there with the chest-tightening anxiety…and you’re right…at the core of the fear for me was simply not keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus in it all. Fear is cast out in his presence!

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  2. Your post calmed me, Em. A yoga teacher friend recently told me that she learned that *where* you focus your gaze in poses impacts your parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, the location of our gaze matters in a bodily, calming sense. Tangent, but interesting, yes? Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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