Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Is It That You Fear?

What are you most afraid of? Polls of the "most common fears" have varied results, but invariably public speaking or some other chance to make a fool of oneself ranks high on the list. Many people are terrified of innocuous creatures ranging from cats to cockroaches. Other contenders for the lead-phobia spot include things that can be life-threatening but rarely are, such as heights, flying, and storms.

All these fears have one thing in common: they make little sense. They almost never involve immediate danger; they occupy the mind to a degree all out of proportion to any real threat. (Many more people die in cars than on planes; far more people are afraid of flying than of driving.) And when actual danger does threaten--well, the phrase "paralyzed with fear" is no mere metaphor, and a paralyzed person is hardly in a position to help himself out of trouble.

It's hardly a new problem; the phrase "don't be afraid" occurs some 89 times in the Bible. One verse that perhaps gets less attention than it deserves is Mt. 10:28: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Not that we are to treat fear of God as we generally treat fear of earthly things: going through life never quite free of the dread that God will cast us into hell. (As some legalists in fact do.) To fear God properly is to fear disappointing Him, to fear being out of His will, to fear trying to take control of life ourselves--which is the true motive behind most earthly fears. (Maybe that's the real reason so many people would rather drive than fly; at least in your car you maintain some control.) Those of us who were blessed with loving and wise parents understand some of this instinctively; we were a little afraid of them because they seemed so powerful and couldn't be bullied or manipulated, and yet we knew that they would never really do anything to hurt us, would in fact protect us from danger.

As more than one person has put it, "Fear God and you need fear nothing else."

You lose yourself in action
To flee some unknown dread;
You pile up earthly treasures
Against the "times ahead";
You fret of wars and rumors
And endless things you hear:
Oh, foolish, trembling mortal,
What is it that you fear?

You look for "anti-aging"
To stem the flow of time;
You lock your doors and bolt them
To hide yourself from crime;
You draw away from strangers
Lest they hold motives drear:
O, god of self-protection,
What is it that you fear?

Your prayers themselves are haunted
By endless trembling doubt;
You beg for what you're craving--
Will God bring it about??--
You plead for certain outcomes
And doubt they will appear:
Then God speaks to you, softly:
"What is it that you fear?

"My perfect love and wisdom
Hold endless wealth for you;
In all life's tests and troubles
My strength will bring you through;
Forget your earthly wishes,
Desires you hold too dear:
Far better things are coming
When it is Me you fear!"


carol said...

The poem is incredible Kathryn!

carol said...

This is an incredible poem Kathryn!

Janet Ann Collins said...

I love the poem and will save it for future reference.