“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.”
— 1 John 4:18
Several years ago I read a book titled “God’s Best for You”, by Marilyn Helleberg. In it she said that God wanted to talk with us as much as we want to talk to Him, probably more. One afternoon while driving a beautiful mountain highway, I decided to ask God if He wanted to talk to me. Clear as a bell in my head, I heard, “What took you so long?”. Then the very next thought that came to me was, “There is nothing to fear, ever.”
Prior to that, I had been a fearful person. The world was a dangerous place filled with people bent on doing me harm. I wasn’t phobic, I didn’t think, I thought I was just being realistic. I did as most people do, laying awake at night worrying. Worrying about all the things that could or might go wrong. Then all at once God showed me life. It took me several years to put together all the pieces of the puzzle that God was showing me. I’m still putting it together. When you ask God to explain life to you, it takes a while. What I came to understand was that God did have everything under control. I saw all the things I had previously feared, as necessary to the intricate workings of the universe.
Most people’s greatest fear, and mine, was that of death. As a child I would just refuse to think about it, it was too terrible to contemplate … the end of life. But as the pieces came together, I saw that there was no end, there couldn’t be. Why would God go to all the trouble to make something as complicated as me, and them make me disposable. When your skin cells die, do you cease to exist? Every cell in your body has been replaced in the last two years. You, the body you are sitting in right now, is nothing but recycled earth, water, and air. You have outlived your body many times, and will many more. Someday this body will stop. They all do. Do we presume death is a punishment? Everybody who has ever lived, dies. Even those that we have no doubt were really, really good. So how can it be bad? What if there were no sickness or death? The universe simply could not function. It doesn’t work. If you have never stopped and contemplated the perfection of nature, please take the time. The cycles of life and death, weather, reproduction, it is all so incredibly perfect, and the “flaws” we see in it are part of what makes it function perfectly.
How much compassion would we know if we had never known suffering? Suffering doesn’t make all people compassionate, some it makes bitter and resentful, but that is a choice. A choice to be unhappy rather than happy. A choice never to recover, never to find happiness again, to inflict suffering rather than search for ways to stop it. Life is an incredibly rich and deep experience, full of ups and downs that punctuate the richness of it. What if you had a million years to live? How long would you be able to stay on the beach? Have you ever had a home with a view, or known someone who has? It isn’t long before you walk past the window and don’t see it anymore. BUT, then it changes. Winter comes. What was once green and alive grows cold and dead. But if you have had enough conversations with God, you don’t see death, you see God. Then in the spring, the green returns and, for a while, you see the beauty of life again … but it was always there.
When Jesus was told that his friend Lazarus had died, he wept. He knew that he could, and would raise Lazarus from the dead, but he felt the grief of his friends at their perceived loss, and, I believe, he chose to experience it, to share it with them.
If we overcome our fear of death, which happens naturally as you get to know God better, all other fears lose their power over you. You realize that people in positions of power over you, are no better or more favored than you. They don’t own you. Money doesn’t make them right. You alone are responsible for your happiness and success. No one can make you happy or afraid, unless you chose to let them. A journalist was traveling on a cargo plane that was airlifting a group of Middle Eastern refugees out of a war torn area. They chattered excitedly amongst themselves as they sat on the floor among their goats and chickens and small bundles. As the plane was landing, one of the landing gear collapsed and the plane skidded sideways down the runway. One wing dipped into the sand and they spun around and came to a stop. As the frightened journalist composed himself, he looked around and saw the people gathering their possessions preparing to disembark. Then it dawned on him, they had never been on a plane before. They thought it was a normal landing, so they didn’t know they were supposed to be afraid. We too have taught ourselves to be afraid of many things. There are only two kinds of events in our lives, those we can do something about and those we cannot. If we can do something, then do it. Otherwise it is a waste of a good moment to worry about it. Life is meant to be lived to its fullest, and that can’t happen if you are afraid. Fear as a physiological response occurs to heighten our awareness and prepare us to deal most efficiently with a given situation. Worry serves no purpose at all, save the destruction of the immune system and a catalyst for disease (dis-ease).
Other than a fear of death, most of our other fears occur as a result of our possessions. Fear that they will be damaged, lost, stolen, or cost us money. The crippling effects of materialism. For an effective dose of anti-materialism, read “Mutant Message Down Under”, by Marlo Morgan.
By far the most effective remedy for fear, is coming to know that God is there with you always. He has promised to feed you, clothe you and love you, if only you will ask. Once you know this, really know it in your soul, the world changes for you. Once you invite God to take over the world for you, you are no longer afraid, you leave everything to Him. Once you stop trying to control every minute detail of your existence(which wasn’t working anyway), you let go and let God, then when things don’t turn out the way you wanted them to, you know that God knows best, and it wasn’t supposed to work out that way. You know with confidence that if you lose your job, another one that better suits you and what you really need in life will come along. If you remain unemployed for a while, it may be because someone in your life needs you for a time, or perhaps you aren’t looking in the right place, or maybe money has become too important to you and you need time to reorder your priorities. Everything in your life will serve you, if only you stop fighting it. God is gently tailoring the universe just for you, to guide you to your greatest fulfillment, and highest accomplishment. It doesn’t get any better than that. There is nothing to fear, ever.