I am well acquainted with fear.. and it’s close friend, anxiety. As I look back over most of my life these two have been my constant companions. When control was out of my reach, fear was close at hand. When answers were unclear and I wasn’t quite sure which way to turn, anxiety had a perfectly rational explanation.
Every. Single. Time.
It’s always made sense to run with the fear that was in my heart and mind, it was over-powering. It was the oppressor in my daily life that I just could not seem to shake. It followed me around and demanded I hand over my peace and rest like a schoolyard bully demands your lunch money.
Have you ever noticed how loud fear is? Fear yells.. I mean, it just screams. You can’t possibly hear anything else when it’s siren is so loud in your mind.. at least that’s what fear wants you to believe.
Truth doesn’t shout, not at first anyways.
Fear always seems to shout. It comes at you with a fierceness that is piercing, confusing and almost always loud. Fear demands our attention, I believe, more than any other emotion. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, fear, panic, or any synonym that closely relates to the aforementioned words, you know exactly what I’m saying. When you are so deep into the pit of despair that fear causes, when someone speaks truth to you it can sound barely audible, like a faint, far away whisper. The shouts and incessant clanging of the lies that surround you in that pit can be all-consuming and life sucking.
When you hear that little whisper behind the leers and shrieking of the demons that shake their chains in your face;
….Listen, I mean, really listen..
because after all, even the loudest shout sounds like a whisper when you’re at the bottom of a pit.
Once you listen, once you open your ears to that truth, don’t let go of it. Grab onto that truth with both hands, and no matter how bloodied they become, don’t let go until that truth whisper becomes a shout. Hold on while you feel the fear falling away into the darkness of the pit as you are being pulled up by the rope of truth.
Hold on friend.. Be brave enough in that moment to grab hold and listen.
It’s scary when fear is screaming at you in the face, isn’t it? When I’m in that place, I tilt my head a little to the right, just past fear’s hideous face and I see Jesus.. walking on the water..
In Matthew 14, after a day of ministering and feeding over five thousand people, Jesus put his disciples on a boat and sent them off to the other side while He went up on the mountain to pray. In the early morning hours after the disciples had been out on the water for hours, Jesus came walking on the water to them. The text reads that when the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them on the sea they thought it was a ghost or a spirit. Uh.. yeah, I’d be shaking in my boots also. But I just love Jesus’ answer, depending on what version you read, his basic words were this;
“Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.”
In some translations there is no exclamation point after take courage, but I like to think that Jesus spoke with the emphasis that the exclamation point adds. Take courage! I just love this. I imagine Jesus effortlessly walking upon the waves and coming towards the boat as the disciples are terrified at this phantom gliding towards them. And what does Jesus say? He says take courage.
It’s the words I bring to the forefront of my mind when fear is screaming at me. It gives me the perspective I need in that moment to look past fears ugly face and stare at truth.. The truth that He is with me, I’m not alone in this and I am His.
And you know what? I like to think that’s why Jesus said take courage before he said do not be afraid.
Because it takes courage to not be afraid..
It’s not exactly easy to not take the fear route. It’s hard. Especially if you’re anything like me and it’s hard-wired in you to just be afraid. It takes patience, perseverance and practice. Jesus knew that.. that’s why he said it.
Fear and anxiety don’t exactly like to retreat easily but I’ll tell you this, in the presence of Jesus even the ugliest fear screams can’t stand. That’s truth, it’s rock solid ground to stand on when fear makes you shake in your boots.
So, take courage my friends. Do not be afraid, listen to this whisper of truth if you are currently in a pit; you are His, He is with you and you are held. Look past the ugly screeching and before you know it the truth of Jesus will be shouting louder than the fear.
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”