if fear hasn't killed me yet …

This morning at my bible study, Beth Moore spoke on Ester 4:11-17 and fear. Here are some of my personal thoughts on fear…
Fear is a funny thing. Most people have fears of things that are real, like spiders, snakes or the dark. But almost everyone has fear that is found deeper than those things. Our worst fears are not usually in the form of a thing we can identify but more so they are situational. Fear of death, of loneliness, of a loved one leaving us, of not being good enough. Whether we admit it or not, we have that fear that sort of eats us alive.
If we call ourselves followers of Christ we usually say that we trust that God will not let that fear happen to us. However, in doing that, we have placed a conditional faith on God. We are essentially saying, “God I’m trusting that you won’t let that happen because that would destroy me” We aren’t really trusting God at all. And when we do that, we’re only putting a band aid on an incision from surgery. Fear is something deep inside us, something that continues to torment us if we allow it to. We think that if that ever does happen then we’re ruined. We won’t be able to get over it, the fear is still there even if we say we trust in the Lord. I think we just feel better for a little bit.
See the thing is that the single most repeated command that God gives us throughout the Bible is this … “Do not be afraid.” Over and over again he commands us to not be afraid. And yet, we continue to be afraid. I mean yes, we’ve memorized the verses in the bible that say that the Lord will not forsake us, if God is for us who can be against us, and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. But when we get down to it, do we ever stop being fearful?
So then Beth Moore started to talk about courage. About how courage comes from the Latin word “cor” meaning heart. Then she said – courage comes from a heart convinced it is loved. In the New Testament Jesus says to his disciples, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” It’s not even that he’s really saying that they shouldn’t be afraid, he’s more saying that he is with them so they can fear not. He says “Take courage” as if he’s holding it out to them in his hand, like ‘here, take it. Come on, I’m giving it to you.” I think so many times we have this fear in our lives that literally keeps us from doing things, great things, and it’s like God is holding out courage and we choose not to take it.
In Esther, the fear was literally death. She could go in front of the King like Mordecai was asking her but the penalty was death. More than likely, in her mind, she was gonna be killed if she did it. It wasn’t like there was chance she wouldn’t be killed, the chance was that she would be saved. Being saved by Xerxes’ scepter was the exception to the rule. She was literally facing death, but chose to take the courage provided for her by her faith in God that He was there with her.
While I recognize that a lot of people are afraid of death, I’m not. I’ve come to term with the fact that I’m going to die and in all honesty, I’m not dreading that. The hope I have in Jesus (not to be all preachy) is that I get something better in the next life. So yea, that’s not my fear. But I do have fear and to be honest I have a lot of it. I didn’t really know it, but it’s there. It’s abundant and it runs deep.
The thing is, for the past year (literally, maybe more than a year) God has been trying to call my attention to this fact. He’s been using a lot of different people and scriptures to show me something and while I recognize those moments while I’m in them, I didn’t understand how or why they connected. That is until today. Until Beth Moore, in all her southern charm, called it all to my attention. A dozen or so conversations with mentors/friends/students. Hours spent poring over specific scriptures. Tears spilt in heartache over not understanding this pain and fear – not having a name for it. Beth tied it up in a cute little package and presented it to me… all the way from Texas… through a DVD … that was recorded long before any of this happened in my life.
(Not buying it? Yea me neither, it’s clearly the hand of the Lord. Beth’s just a vessel. I do understand that, don’t worry.)
There are a lot of fill in the blanks in Beth Moore studies. But today there was one left blank, and it’s a glorious one. Beth points out that when you’re facing any kind of fear there is a sort of “IF ____________________, THEN __________.” For a shallow/humorous example, “IF a spider crawls on my leg, THEN I will die.” When you put your fear in the first blank, you always have a perceived consequence in the second blank. For your worst fear, that second blank is the fact that you’ll be done, ruined, won’t be able to go on. But if you play it out, you find a different consequence. Keep asking yourself what if that happens, then what?” and when you fill in that second blank, keep asking, “then what?” until you come full circle and realize, that at the end of your dramatic (although real) situation … there’s God. Even if everything in your life is lost, God’s still there. He’s still standing right there and He can help pick you up and carry on.
This is not to say that I’ve perfected it, far from it. I took some good steps today. I took the courage God was holding out to me and tried conquering one of my fears. But I barely scratched the surface. It’s a long road when you’re trying to conquer those fears. Because I tend to ask myself, is fear really curable? Will I ever get to the point where I don’t have fear? Or is it merely recognizing that I have the choice to take the courage I’m being handed by the God that created me?