Do Not Fear
A few days ago, I visited an elderly friend. I will call her Mavis. Mavis lives on her own. She enjoys a quiet life. Twice a week, she attends a program for the oldies where the council does a great job caring for them. They are taken out for the day, given a delicious meal and brought home in the evening. She loves it. Her eyes sparkle as she describes her outings. She deeply appreciates the kindness of those who care for them.
When I visited her that day, Mavis asked me to wait a moment. She went out of the room and soon re-appeared bringing with her a large box. My curiosity was aroused. Words outside the box read ‘Build a Bear’. Build a bear? Hmm… I’d never seen one before.
‘I wonder what’s inside,’ Mavis said. ‘I dare not open it because I won’t know how to fix it. I think I’ll wait till my son visits.’ Should I offer to open it for her, I wondered. Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to make it either. Would I look foolish? I few moments passed.
“I’d love to see what’s inside,” murmured Mavis again. “But I’m scared to open it. I’ll wait for my son to do it for me. He’ll know what to do.”
“Would you like me to open it Mavis?”
It wasn’t difficult to open the box. Afterwards, I put my hand inside to take the pieces out. But no – there weren’t any pieces. Instead, out came a large gorgeous soft toy. A brown and white dog, it was, replete with collar and leash. With bells on a collar that jingled. A birth certificate accompanied him. His name was 'Bear'. Mavis was deliriously happy. For the next half hour, he was all that she talked about.
Mavis is scared of real dogs and wouldn’t be able to look after one. But a soft toy? Perfect for an old lady who lives alone. We joked that she could walk him up and down her hallway. She said she'd even take it to bed. What a good thing she brought out that box. If she’d waited for her son, it might have been several days before she enjoyed her new playmate. And you know, Mavis had been fearful of opening the box. I was a little nervous myself that I’d look foolish if I couldn’t assemble it – so hesitated a moment before I offered to open it. I’m so glad I did. She didn’t have to assemble it. Neither did I. If I’d not opened it, we’d not have known, would we?
Are you a courageous person who likes to take a risk? I wish I could say I was one. The sad truth is that there have been many occasions when fear has kept me back from taking the plunge into deeper waters. There’ve been times when terror gripped me, like a python wrapping itself around its prey. And no, I am not proud of it.
The Bible has over one hundred references that remind us to not be afraid. I believe it’s because God understands that we are human and prone to fear. ‘Fear not’ He says. Because it is OK to fear. But also because it’s not OK to persist in fear once we realise that God is by our side. What do you fear? Death? Heights? Spiders? Flying? Growing old? Disease? Pain? The Future? Failure? What others think of you?
Some years ago, when I began speaking in public I’d sweat and tremble – neither of which helped me. Being nervous detracted from my speech. So one day I made a decision. I resolved I WOULD NOT GET NERVOUS. Did it work? Yes. Surprisingly enough it did. Most of the time. My natural inclination was towards getting clammy hands and a heart that went ‘thud thud thud’ each time I got up to speak. But with God’s help – I was able to loosen fear’s grip on me. And each time I did – it got easier. Often our wills have to be put into gear for our feelings to begin to drive the car of fearlessness.
Popular author and speaker Joyce Meyer tells us ‘Do it afraid’. I like that. Fear might be a natural reaction. It may sometimes keep me safe from harm. But unhealthy fears can be taken to the One who says ‘Fear not’. After all, He holds the whole world in His hands. And His Presence with me will surely give me courage.
What makes you anxious today? Would you like to do it afraid? Would you be willing to give your fears to Him who rules the Universe? He is ever present. And terror has no room where God resides. If He's called you to it, He will lead you through it. It's as simple as that. So come to Him. His Presence will cast out all your fears.
“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ ” Isaiah 41:13