I don't mind heights. I don't mind tight spaces. I hate public speaking, but I can manage it. I love thunderstorms. I don't mind snakes or spiders or scorpions... Okay, fine, so I'm abjectly terrified of cockroaches for no good reason. Two phobias, then.
But the thing that really scares me, that debilitates me with fear more than anything else, is -- myself.
|(Photo credit.) Some clarification on phobias. I do not suffer from either of these. Yay. (I thought about sticking a dramatic picture of someone looking scared here, which would actually have been relevant, but how boring would THAT be? This is waaay better.)|
I come up with high goals and aspirations, and within moments, I'm afraid that I won't be able to live up to them. Or else I'm apathetic and don't care what I become, and then I'm afraid that I'll stay like that forever and never really live. I'm afraid that I will fail. I'm afraid that I will fall into ruts and not have the strength to get out of them. I'm afraid that I will become something that I never wanted, or sit around and grow blind to my faults. I'm afraid of the past, because I can always find something to regret. I'm afraid of the future, because I know there will be things to regret. I'm afraid that I'm too small and too weak to live this great big life that's been given to me, and to survive in this enormous and profound world.
And the hard thing about this fear is that it's pretty darn valid in many respects. Odds are, I will ruin things. Odds are, I will make mistakes that I will bitterly regret. Odds are, I will be a total wimp and fail all these noble ambitions I have. Odds are, the ruts and the weaknesses will come exactly as I expect.
But kiddo (yes, I talk to myself in my blog posts and address myself as kiddo; it's fun; you should try it), that's no reason to be afraid.
I heard an excellent sermon a while back, part of which was about hope. Imagine, the pastor suggested, that hope is a thing, a vase or something. Imagine that you have to put it down somewhere. Where do you put it? Where will it be safe? You can put it here, or there, or on that table or that shelf... or you can put it down on God and leave it there. There alone will it be safe.
Yes, exactly. And peace. And joy. And basically everything else. You can't put it in yourself. You can't put it in another. You can't put it in the world or humanity. They are not safe there. But they are safe in God.
We are told to rejoice in the Lord. We are told of the peace of Christ. We are told to hope in God. And if we really do this, if these vases or marbles or whatever we might imagine them to be, lie safely on the Solid Rock, then the whole rest of the world can go up in flames without our joy, peace, and hope being touched. We can fail and still rejoice, still be at peace, still hope, because so long as God is being glorified, all is well. And God will always be glorified.
"Great," you say. "Now you have taken me to a philosophical place where I can be happy and apparently not care if I'm failing and the world is falling apart. Now I'm not scared of failing. Now I don't care. That's helpful."
Bear with me.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:1-5)
Not only does the hope, when it rests on God, stay safe and secure no matter what happens. It also does not put us to shame. How does it manage to rescue our sinking, failing selves? Well, there's this thing called the Holy Spirit.
Friends, this is why our own weakness is nothing to fear. Because God's power is made perfect in weakness. It doesn't matter that I can't do this. It doesn't matter that I'm too small for the life I live and the world I live in. All that means is that when God gets me through it, it should be obvious that He is the power behind any success.
How dare I fear? What kind of skewed pride is this? Do I honestly think that I, by my own smallness, can thwart the God of the universe when He has promised to make me His? That my smallness is so big that it can stop Him from having the prize for which He died?
No. I'll reach for the stars and not fear that I will fall. The past is gone. The future is in God's hands. And the present -- the present is the moment in which God is with me, and in me, and all that I need. My hope, my joy, and my peace are safe in Him. And I am too.