Fear :: Part 2

by - March 10, 2020

{Fear :: Part 1 can be found here.}

Sunday, our pastor had us in Isaiah 44. His main points were:

1. God is worthy.
2. Idols are worthless.
3. Worship the worthy.

Sounds so simple, unless you have a fraught history with fear, which I do.

When we read verses 19-20, they brought me back to my mental tracing of biblical fire from Genesis to Revelation.

"They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, "Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?" He feeds on the ashes, a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

Fear is an idol. I cling to it with my right hand, which holds me back from full surrender to all God has for me, my life, and future. I will not let fear hold me back. I must walk on. I am determined to unfurl my fingers from dead wood. God has been trying me by fire and I want Fear to burn. I want it burned to ash to float away in the wind of the Spirit that washes me clean. I want both hands free to serve God with my whole heart and life and future.

I knelt, all by myself in a church that doesn't kneel, with palms open for dust to fly, and proclaimed the true things with our local body's rendition of Andrew Peterson's "He Is Worthy." It was a contemporary liturgy in the modern worship service.

Then, I stood to my feet and named my idol. I wrote "Fear" on a small note card. I wrote it really big because Fear is big to me. I pinned it to the cross. It felt a little bit "old-school youth ministry retro," but there is something about physically engaging in letting something go from your life. Clinging to anything in my own right hand is no match for the God who made both the wood and me and can hold both and then some in his mighty right hand. So I went through the physical and metaphorical motions.

I am certain I will wrestle with Fear again. This exercise was not a miracle cure. It was a reminder. And I will burn the idol and let the ash fly as often as it takes to free my hands to be open only to God and his fullness for me.

Then the benediction: always a scripture reading to send the body into the world, with the words, "You are sent." I don't know what idols everyone else had pinned on the cross, but  yesterday's benediction passage, Psalm 46:1-3 from The Passion translation, seemed to be hand selected just for me. It's about our true relationship with fear in light of God.

"God, you're such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You're a proven help in time of trouble— more than enough and always available whenever I need you. Se we will never fear even if every structure of support were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you. Pause in his presence."

The idols we hold are worthless, but the One who holds us is worthy.


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