i have a dear friend who once told me that she had lived so much of her life in fear that she was resolved [in her late 40s] to do anything & everything she was afraid of doing. she refused to let any more opportunities pass her by because of fear. that fear can come from many things — fear of consequences, fear of not being perfect, fear of judgment, fear of the unknown, fear of disappointing someone, fear of failure, even fear of success…
we all experience fear. it is a deeply personal thing. the sources of & reasons for our fears differ from person to person. i have a fear of being alone in my house at night. well, really, i’m afraid of burglars or worse that could break in when i’m alone in my house at night. since shaun travels frequently, i stay home alone regularly, & i’ve gotten better about going to bed without weird rituals of staying awake until i’m exhausted & locking the animals in my bedroom with me! so that’s not really a fear i have to proactively face because it comes whether i want it or not. i’m also afraid of rock climbing… i had a dear friend who was an experienced climber die in a rock climbing accident while we were in college. losing a peer so young is a devastating experience. rock climbing is now on my “top 100” list of things to do before i die.
i’m not going to go rock climbing just for the sake of it, but because fear can rob us of “sucking the marrow out of life.” i don’t want to miss life because i was afraid to face it & let it pass me by. taking chances, whether it be in our relationships, our vocations, or our dreams, is a necessary part of life. without taking chances — that “leap of faith” — we are standing stagnant.
there are reasons that stagnant water is considered a danger: it is a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects; it is unfit for drinking due to bacteria & parasites; & it is often contaminated with other things better left unsaid. a stagnant life is just as dangerous: a place for breeding self-pity, jealousy, bitterness, & other emotional diseases; a source of poisonous thoughts fueling our fears & prejudices; not to mention contaminated by sins we’d rather not list.
but the refreshing movement of the Living water flowing through our lives flushes out the pestilence & fills us with sound minds ready to learn, right motives ready to act, & pure hearts ready to love. and that is the goal of the student of Life. to learn, to live, to love. a student of Life can never be governed by fear. this does not mean the absence of fear, just that a student of Life must have the courage to face their fears & be governed by love.
“there is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear…” — I john 4:18
what are you afraid of?