I recently heard a message at church about fear. Our pastor is out on sabbatical, and in his place has been a revolving door of visiting preachers. The latest one talked about fear. He said that the words “Fear not” are in the Bible 366 times. I’m taking his word for it. Otherwise I’d have to go count them all myself, and I just don’t have that kind of time. Do you?
I knew it was in there a bunch. I mean, every time an angel appeared to a person the first words out of their mouth were “Fear not”, or “Do not be afraid” which is essentially the same thing. I’m thinking… “What do these angel dudes look like that they are forever telling us not to fear them?” They must not look anything like the sweet angels I’ve always seen depicted in art.
Come to think of it, I’d rather my guardian angel look pretty fearsome if he’s out there fighting the powers of darkness on my behalf.
The speaker’s point was that we should not live our lives in fear. We should stand firm in adversity knowing that God will be faithful. His words so struck me that I sat there thinking… “I’m going to paint those two words over my front door.”
I will confess that sometimes my initial response to unexpected situations is to be afraid. Most of the time, I manage to remind myself that God is still God and he’s still in control of my life regardless of what my eyes are telling me. Having those words where I can constantly be reminded that fear has no place in my life could prove beneficial. It’s embarrassing how quickly I can forget things.
The kids and I drove home after hearing this message on fearing not only to find a really BIG BUG was still on our front steps. He had been there when we left out for church that morning, and he was still there waiting for us to return. We had carefully stepped around him on the way out hoping he wouldn’t notice us.(Well, my daughter didn’t. She chose to leave out the back door instead.) He didn’t seem to notice us.
When I say big bug, I mean BIG BUG.
We’re talking three inches long. I took a picture of him with my phone, and my daughter Googled it on the way to church. I love technology. She discovered the bug is a Cicada. Next to the picture of a Cicada on Wikipedia it says, “Big Bug”.
When we found him still in the same spot as when we left, I decided he was probably dead. I figured it would be best to get it off my front steps so that my daughter wouldn’t have to continue using our back door. Dead or not, she wasn’t going near this guy.
I wasn’t one hundred percent certain he was dead, so I grabbed a stick out of our front yard to flick him off the steps. I’m not fond of bugs myself. And did I mention he was big? I reached out with my stick and flicked him a bit. He turned and faced me. He was not dead. Definitely not dead. I knew this for sure when he spread his really big wings and took flight. He sounded like a small helicopter. He hovered in the air at about face level. My face level. It was at this point that I completely tossed the message from the morning church service.
Fear not? I was sure this didn’t apply to grossly big bugs hovering in front of my face. I froze for a moment, and then I turned in my high heels and ran for it. I am told that I screamed some, too. Loudly. He came at me for a bit, and then veered off to find some place less disturbing to rest.
I’m pretty sure when the Bible says, “Fear not” it wasn’t particularly referring to big bugs. Had it ever come up in conversation, I am sure Jesus would have said, “Be afraid of big bugs for they are creepy.”
It’s when those other things in life come at us that he doesn’t want to us react in fear. Job loss. Illness. Relationship breakdown. Uncertainty.
Because we know him, we know he is in control of it all. Even if the outcome really stinks, he’s got it all under control. Have you lost someone? Take his comfort. Your loss is not for nothing. Are you sinking financially? Accept his peace. Your dependence upon him will see you through those lean times. Whether in times of prosperity or loss, you were made for such a time as this.
If he told us once, he told us 366 times not to fear. Maybe there’s something to that. Perhaps he knew that nothing paralyzes the way fear does. Fear grips us and holds us hostage. It’s as if it seizes your mind and thoughts are not able to form. No rational thoughts anyway. If we don’t quickly get on top of our fears they can overtake us.
So what if we don’t allow fear to overtake us? What if we weren’t afraid? What if we didn’t let fear paralyze us ever again? What if, instead, we continued to move forward in the peace and knowledge that God is still God regardless of what we see in front of us? Even if what we see spells disaster? Can we trust him that much? Can we afford not to? I’ve stared fear right in the buggy eyes, and I don’t think so.