Tuesday, April 29, 2003

A Word On Fear

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately. To be honest, thinking isn't the right word. Motivated by fear might be better…or paralyzed. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of not being in control. I have come to realize that I have a lot of fears. As my 30th birthday has come and gone, I fear I'll never marry. Or if I do, that I will fail at it. I fear I'll never be a size six. I fear I'll let down my friends, family, church, fill-in-the-blank. I fear I'll let God down. This book has brought about many fears: I'm afraid my book won't be published. I'm afraid that if it does, no one will buy it. Or if they do, only from the bargain bin, and not from the best-seller display. I fear talking about it because some might not like what I have to say. I fear not talking about it because God has given me much to say.

I've been thinking how the experience of divorce has filled so many of us with fear. We fear because the ones who were supposed to demonstrate to us that love is an unconditional choice showed us that it is a fleeting, fickle feeling. We fear because we desperately desire to construct that which we have yet to experience and we easily doubt the adequacy of our materials. We fear because the risk it takes to be vulnerable and loved means intentionally allowing someone the freedom to hurt us, and we have experienced enough hurt to last our lifetime. We fear because we don't want to be the one responsible for making our own children feel what we felt. We fear because if we divorce, we become all we've lived our lives to avoid. We fear because we mistakenly believe that God is not capable of holding our marriage together when we lack the strength or desire to do so ourselves. We fear because we are placing our trust in our own abilities, when we serve a God who requires that we must acknowledge our utter inability to control our circumstances.

But you know what I'm realizing? Fear is self-centered. Fear is not trusting that God is in control. Fear is not having faith. I seem to recall that God is in control. Jeremiah 29:11-12 says: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity." (NIV). I seem to recall that God has a plan that makes sense to Him, even when it doesn't make sense to me. I recall that Romans 8:28 promises that "…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV). You know what else I recall? My weaknesses often serve as a backtop to display his strengths. 2 Corinthians 4:7 explains, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (NIV). Imagine a pitcher filled with water. When the pitcher is perfect, the pitcher is all one sees. But if that pitcher were to be slashed with a knife, the water would flow out, making the water the focus. Only in our imperfections, our failures, does God's grace and mercy become clear.

That still doesn't keep me from striving from perfection. I am comforted by the fact that the apostle Paul struggled with this too. He wrote in Philippians 3:12-13, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead" (NIV). No matter what our fear, we need to realize that is only through God that we can do anything worthwhile. As 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, "not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." (NIV). Nonetheless, I want to be perfect. The world tells me that if I am perfect, I am then worthy of love and acceptance. Never mind that it's impossible. Never mind that my worthiness of love has nothing to do with my abilities or accomplishments. I am worthy of love because God loves me.

I John 4:18 builds on this point. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears in not made perfect in love (NIV)". Doesn't that make your head spin?! I know I'm not perfect, but I also know that God loves me. Perfect love is divine. It is an attribute of God. Fear is one of Satan's greatest weapons. He can't take away our salvation, but he can try to take away our effectiveness. If we dwell on our fears, we are forfeiting our ability to be used of God. God has filled me with a passion to write this book. If God has purposed me to do this work, than how can I not succeed?

No matter if I fail.
God loves me.
No matter if others reject me.
God loves me.
No matter if I mess up.
God loves me.
No matter if let others down.
God loves me.
No matter…
God loves me.
Excuse me, I have some writing to do.

© Jen Abbas, 2003