For many of us, fear is an emotion that we usually seek to avoid. A large portion of the pharmaceutical industry has even been devoted to helping us drown out our fears ranging from the paranoid and irrational to the deep-seated and crippling. It is my belief, however, that in order for us to truly grow, it is important for us to confront our fears or, at the very least, seek to understand where our fears come from and how they affect us physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. This week, I’d like to share some of my fears with you (ranging from the paranoid and irrational to the deep-seated and crippling) and what I feel like the Lord is saying in light of the battle that rages on in my heart on an almost daily basis.
To start, I’m afraid someone’s going to hack my electronic devices. Particularly, I’m afraid that someone’s going to hack my phone/tablet/computer camera and microphone and broadcast my weirdness out into the world similar to the movie “Eagle Eye” starring Shia Labeouf. And, while we’re on the subject of hacking, I’m afraid of saving my credit/debit card information on my phone for Apple Pay and whatnot because I’m afraid someone is going to take that information and use it to buy things like magazine subscriptions and nuclear weapons. I say all that and I must admit that I still walk around with a wallet that is not RFID blocking. I don’t even know what RFID stands for, but I know my wallet isn’t one and it’s somehow safer than keeping my credit/debit card information on my phone.
I’m afraid of not being funny. That feeling of telling a joke/story that you really thought was hilarious and have it be met by complete and utter silence….. *shiver* I’m afraid someone’s going to see my browser history…. Let’s just leave it at that… Last, but not least, the thing I think I fear the most is the dark. I am petrified of the dark. Perhaps, I should explain myself a bit.
When I say “I’m afraid of the dark,” I don’t mean the physical act of being in the dark. If you told me that I had to spend an hour in a dark room, I wouldn’t exactly be quaking in my boots. Rather, when I say “dark” I am more referring to an existential state rather than a physical one.
Maybe I could put it to you this way, when we read Scripture we are often confronted by this theme, this battle between light and dark: light = good, dark = bad. Light is where God is, where the angels love to dwell, where Heaven exists. In the book of Exodus, Moses would spend time with the Lord face-to-face and it says that his face would shine, that his face would physically emit light, so much so that Moses had to wear a veil over his face. Just being in the presence changed Moses’ physical nature.
Darkness is the absence of all these things. Darkness is where the enemy loves to dwell. Darkness has given birth to lie, after lie, after lie. Darkness is where people of the flesh and fleshly desires are often satisfied. Darkness can affect the physical nature of a person just as easily as light can. Over the years that I’ve spent in ministry, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with the demonic and, for those that are unfamiliar, you’d be surprised at stories of people suffering from demonic oppression/possession and the difference that deliverance makes on the physical body.
I guess a better way to put it is, rather than being afraid of the dark, I’m more afraid of who I become in the dark. In the darkest of places, is often when my really deep fears come to the surface. Things like:
- Embarrassment- the absolute putrid fear that I’m going to be found out for the two-bit, no good, dirty, hypocrite that I really am and that I become ridiculed and humiliated for it
- Vulnerability- the fear that when I open my heart to a person they’re just going to rip it out of me and stomp all over it
- Loneliness- the fear that as I run from vulnerability no one will ever really, truly know me
- Insignificance- the fear that I won’t make a lasting impression in this world or even in the lives of the people around me
In the dark, all of these things become more than just silly insecurities that I turn over in my head. Instead, they manifest themselves in my character, my speech, my behavior and in my thinking (body, soul, mind). What’s more, as Christians we have a very interesting relationship with the dark.
Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
From this passage of Scripture we learn that, as the people of God, we are not called to run from the dark. Instead, we are called to be light in the dark. From the simple greeting to a passerby on the street, to the deep heart-to-hearts that you have with a friend or a co-worker, to even the seemingly innocuous exchanges we have with people on a day-to-day basis our mission in all these things is clear. We are called to more, called to be more.
Where do we go from here, though? What do we do in light of these fears that rub up against our conscience and our spirit? How do we reconcile these fears to the mission and calling of God on our lives? I submit to you that in order to conquer our fears, we must give ourselves more fully to Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:7-18
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
When we give ourselves over to Christ more fully, an interesting thing begins to happen. In effect, we undergo a perspective shift. Firstly, the fear of embarrassment, vulnerability, loneliness, and insignificance is nothing more than light and momentary affliction. Though outwardly, we suffer and waste away because of our fear, we know that, inwardly, the Holy Spirit renews us. We can be sure of this because this Holy Spirit that renews us is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Finally, we know that though darkness may manifest itself in us, so shall the light and life of Jesus, only to a fuller degree.
We who have been renewed by the Gospel are transformed by more than just words on a page. We are renewed by God himself so that we can conquer our fear of the dark. Friends, my hope for any and all of my readers is not that we would stop being afraid. Rather, that we who are called “saved” by God, would also be called “renewed” by God.