In the Bible, whenever an angel appears to anyone, they always have to say, "Fear not!" Or "don't be afraid," in more modern translations. One famous example of that is when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her she would give birth to the Messiah. (Luke 1:26-38, blog) I wrote a song about that passage in 1996. The song was called Fear Not. It's on my album, Sin No More. The message of the song is that God wants to say the same to us that he said to her. Fear not, the Lord is with you.
I'm having trouble taking my own advice these days. Fear has never been an issue for me until now. But of all the "thou shalt nots" in the Bible, one of the most common commands to believers is not to be afraid. When Peter sank as he walked toward Jesus on the water, I do not believe that he sank because he took his eyes off of Jesus. That's the common interpretation of that passage. I believe that he sank because he was afraid, when Jesus had just commanded him not to fear. (Matthew 14:22-33, blog) In fact, what Jesus actually said in the original language was, "Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I AM."
The trouble is, fear is an involuntary response. It's literally a chemical secretion in the brain that signals danger, which is vital for survival. It's an advanced mammalian characteristic, I think. All mammals feel fear. I could be wrong, but I don't think reptiles or fish feel fear. But mice, dogs, and people do. It seems to go right along with having hair and being warm-blooded. When it's that ingrained, how are we supposed to just stop? It goes against human nature, and that's the point. In order to do it, we have to really trust God. In order to do that, we have to really get to know him. It's hard to trust someone you don't know.
But I am afraid. Afraid of what next week will bring. If you've been reading this journal regularly, you know that I'm scheduled to meet with a radiation oncologist this Wednesday, and then I meet with my regular oncologist on March 1st to discuss the results of the MRI, and where he thinks we should go from here. That day will change my life forever, and I'm not sure I'm ready for it.
So I'm taking this opportunity today to remind myself of what I believe. What I've always believed. If we trust God, we're not afraid. If we're afraid, it means we have a lack of trust. Do we believe that God really loves us, and wants what's best for us? I do. Not only do I believe that, I believe that God wants what's best for us more than we want what's best for ourselves. Sometimes we don't want what's best for us. Sometimes we just want what we want. But I believe that God's love for us is purer and more intense than our love for ourselves or anyone else, and he not only knows what's best more than we do, he wants what's best for us more than we do. If I really believe that, how can I be afraid?
So here are a few Bible verses that talk about this. I'm going to keep reminding myself of them. I've never really had a "life verse." For the uninitiated, that's a Bible verse that a person might choose to be their motto, of sorts. It's usually a promise that one might want to cling to. Here's a very popular one. It's from Jeremiah 29:11. It 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." That's a good one for me to cling to right now. But I've never really gone in for the life verse thing. So here are the verses that I'm reminding myself of. Maybe they'll help you too. There are MANY more, but these are the ones that jumped out at me today.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
And this one, one of my favorites: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7. That's pronounced second Timothy, Donald.
So am I gonna trust God, or am I gonna be afraid? Fear not, the Lord is with you. I want to trust God, so I'm gonna get to know him as well as I can for as long as I can. That's what I'm going to do.