Fear. One of the definitions I found for fear was: the emotional response to danger – real or imagined. I think about ninety-nine percent of the time our fear is about that imagined thing that hasn’t happened yet. Interestingly, the psychological condition of fear is not associated with hard and fast, immediate danger… it is all based on something our minds have conjured up! True, these things have a greater or lesser degrees of probability, but why do we want to live in that uncertain, fear-based future? We can handle just about anything in the moment, but a projection of a possibility? The only way to really handle that is to recognize it for what it is and release the hold it has on us.
(To listen to the complete audio of this sermon, click here.)
Buddhists (and many enlightened therapists) suggest we befriend our fears. Rather than letting them dominate our minds and control our imaginations, we can learn to identify our fears through self-awareness and walk alongside them.Then perhaps when we get caught up in our own fears, we’ll be able to greet them, “Oh, hello fear,” and even learn something from them.
Over and over again we are told in the Bible, “Do not be afraid.” The psalmist assures us over and over that God is with us, we have no one to fear. The angel tells Mary, Joseph and Zechariah, “Don’t be afraid.” God says to Isaiah, “Fear not, for I am with you.” God says to Abraham and Hagar and Jacob, “Do not be afraid.”Jesus repeats the same thing over and over again, “Do not be afraid…” to the disciples, Simon, Mary, the people of Jerusalem, and Paul in a vision.
And then we watch the news and think… yikes, there are psychotic people on the loose out there, it’s not safe to be anywhere! Yikes, our economy is going to hell in a handbasket, what’s going to happen to me? Sex trafficking is a brutal reality… I should lock my daughter in her room until she is old and ugly like me!
Some folks would say, “Obviously your faith isn’t strong enough, that’s why you are afraid.”
I would say that this has nothing to do with my faith. I know God loves me. I know God is with me. I know that worrying about and being afraid of things that are not here right now is a waste of my energy. And, I have great faith in the loving energy of the universe… I just … um… forget about it sometimes.
The truth is: we are more than our fear. We have the choice to succumb to our fears and limit the extent to which we live our lives; or, we can live as fully as possible.
Perhaps all of the “do not be afraids” are telling us one thing… DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIVE!
Do not be afraid of people, of challenges, of changes, of illness, of death, of new jobs, of growing older, of what people think or don’t think of you, of failure, of where God is leading your life… DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIVE! We should not let fear hold us back … we should not be afraid to dance the dance of life. In the words of a wonderful song that was sung yesterday in our service, “when you get the choice to sit it out or dance… JUST DANCE!!”