Friday, December 12, 2008

Fears... Advent of Joy #12


Fears from the past… of the past… cripple us.

They cause us to fear the future…

We are afraid to face the pain in our past, so we cope poorly in the present. Our poor coping in the present makes it hard to face the future, therefore we fear the future.

How many times have we talked to, or heard of, people who had no memory of certain areas of their life, where they had lost whole chunks of their life from the past?

I was watching a show last night talking with someone who was very overweight. After starting to work on diet, exercise and strength training, they started to see if there was something else that could cause her to turn to food. She talked about how fear drove her life. Fear of dieting and things not changing. Fear of not doing it, and dying because she gained or stayed the same. Fear of her past.

She said that she remembered nothing of her childhood prior to the age of about 13. So she was encouraged to talk to family members, and look at old pictures to see if that would help jog her memory. Because they wondered if something from her past that was blocked out was a key to why she was escaping into food.

I never thought that would be something for me. I mean I never thought I would find an area of my life that was completely blacked out. And I didn’t realize that it was blocked out until after I started to remember it. It wasn’t a whole chunk of my life, but it was a portion of a relationship in my life. One night. But that was all it took. I lived in fear. In fear of remembering.

I never even knew it… I mean I NEVER even knew that I was living in fear in and because of what I had forgotten.

Until I remembered it.

Between looking up the phrases, “Fear not,” “be not afraid,” and “do not be afraid,” I came up with 86 different verses. Why would God address fear… even in just these verses… so much?
The enemy uses fear so much in our lives, to cripple us and keep us from moving forward in our life. Emotionally and spiritually we are unable to mature, because we are held in bondage to a fear, or multiple fears.

God knows that we are suseptible to fear. He also knows that our first inclination is to try to stop the fear ourselves. Think of Adam and Eve. When their eyes were “opened” they saw they were naked, tried to cover themselves, and then hid in fear when the heard the Lord in the garden. They hid because they were afraid. They lied because they were afraid. They tried to cover themselves up because of shame and fear.

And we have been living with fear ever since.

How much do you try to cover yourself, to protect yourself. How much do you hide who you really are because of fear? How much do you eat, or drink, or exercise, or read or shop or… to cover up your fear, to make it disappear for a while, so that you feel less fearful, even for a little bit? How much does your fear keep you running from things that might cause you pain?

In Isaiah God addresses fear directly.
“Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy. He is the one you are to fear; He is the one you are to dread. And He will be a sanctuary…”
Isaiah 8:12-14a

We are to fear God alone. Because He is holy. We are to have a healthy fear of Him… a dread of Him because of how holy He is. I think of Isaiah’s response when He saw himself in the presence of the Lord. He was filled with fear, basically fearing death because he was in the presence of the Holy God, and God’s holiness revealed to him just how dirty he was… and that his dirtiness (sin) deserved death.

Praise God that He sent us His Son to die on our behalf so that when we see and recognize the holiness of God, and are, by contrast, able to see our dirtiness, we are not killed! If we have trusted in Jesus, He took that punishment for us, and God does not see us any other way but clean, through Christ’s cleansing blood.

We aren’t to be afraid of the things of this world. I mean, look at the economy, the rising cost of food, difficulties in securing loans, and everything else going on. Looking at those things can cause great fear. If we start dwelling on them, if I start dwelling on them, and the immediate problems here at home, I find myself living in great fear. When I am living in that fear, then I find myself starting to do things in my own strength and power to try to fix things.

But we are not called to fear what the world fears… its predictions of disasters and conspiracies.

God alone is worthy of our fear, our reverence, our awe. And we should never allow that fear of Him to drive us away from Him. It should drive us closer to Him. To His Son. To Jesus, who gives us access to God through His blood.

We are free, and despite any other fears, we can rejoice in that.

We can rejoice in our healthy fear of God, because we know that He is the only One who really matters, in the end.

He is our sanctuary. We can dwell within His presence, and worship Him there. He will keep us safe from the fears of the world. No matter how the storms of the world affect our lives, we can live in peace and joy in His sanctuary.

That is the reminder I need this advent season.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Luke 2:10

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