Fear. Did you know that a frequent command in the Bible is, ‘Fear not?’ I think that’s because God knows that we struggle with fear. I struggle with fear, irrational fear almost every day, and one of the biggest battles in my life has been learning the difference between the right and wrong kind of fear.
This is the heavy topic I’m delving into for Julia’s Mental Health Monday, and I’m so grateful for the platform Julia shares for us to be raw, real, and honest with every part of recovery including the really hard parts. I’m also sharing for Amanda’s Thinking out Loud Thursday, because this may be one of the most ‘thinking out loud’ posts you may ever see me post here. 🙂
John 14:27, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
Fear is real. If anybody tries to tell me that they have never feared anything, I might disbelieve them.
Joshua 1:9, ‘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.’
Have you ever had that paralyzing fear over something that is about to happen? Have you ever walked into a room and thought, ‘Oh no…. Is everybody judging me in here for the way I look or the way I talk or sound or the things I do?’
It’s a real emotion that comes with us when we go to bed at night. We think about the day and we think about the next day, and our tendency is to fear the unknown. We fear what we can’t see.
I’m not trying to get your heart all bound up in fear.
But I’ve learned that there is a right kind of fear and a wrong kind of fear.
It goes a bit deeper than what people call a ‘healthy fear.’ What are the kind of things that I’ve feared?
Fear of losing a family member.
Fear of gaining weight after eating Doritos. (seriously, this is real.)
Fear of what other people will think when I publish a certain blog post
Fear of the future and what I’m going to do with my life
Fear that everybody won’t like me if I show them every real, raw, broken side of me.
Fear of missing a workout.
Fear of getting fat.
Fear of ….
And I could inundate you with a list of my fears, but I don’t want this to be a self pity party.
In the darkest parts of struggling with my eating ‘disorder’ or idols of body and self and food, I had so much fear. I would go and exercise in secret, because I feared that my family would think I was exercising too much. I would eat when the kitchen was dark and nobody was there to see me.
I later came to the realization that I wasn’t alone any of those times I did those things.
There’s not a time that I could pinpoint when this happened to me but slowly, Hebrews 4:13 came alive to me.
‘Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.’
The only thing that mattered was and is, ‘Am I right with God?’ God knew what I was doing when I was trying to hide all my failings, my fears, my sins behind closed doors and in hours on the internet.
I was so consumed with what I could see, that I didn’t even think about what I couldn’t see.
This post is so hard for me to write. My mind is spewing all these thoughts onto this paper, but I’m praying..praying.. praying that the Lord’s glory would be manifest through this.
I’m going to share a verse that struck fear into my heart, and it still sobers me. Matthew 10:28, ‘And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.’
So often, the devil, the deceiver, the god of this world is trying to deceive us into fearing things that aren’t worth fearing, things that might hurt our bodies, but they can’t do anything to our souls. The devil delighted in me focusing on the distractions of body and food, because it took my eyes off the real problem. I was wrong with God. And God is the one who can justly see my sins and my vile heart, something no man or woman can see. He is the one who can say that I am guilty and that I do deserve His judgment.
Thinking about these things seemed harsh to me. But it’s true. I know the depth of the darkness of my own heart, and it scared me so much. Nobody else could see it. People would say, ‘Oh, you are such a sweet girl.’
And I felt and knew that I was rotten to the core. This isn’t an understatement. It’s the truth. It was coming face to face with God’s glory and purity and holiness and realizing that no part of me even measured up.
I wasn’t left without hope though. In fact, I wasn’t left without hope for very long at all.
That’s when the gospel came BURSTING in like a new song that I had never heard before.
Romans 5:5, ‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.’
It filled me with hope. At the very beginning of time, man sinned. God made the world good, but man brought sin and evil to the world by listening to the devil’s lies.
But God was and is SO merciful. I had heard this gospel my whole life. I knew that Jesus Christ had died to save sinners, but I’m not sure I ever really understood in my heart, in my soul. I’m not saying that understanding is what saves you, but this understanding is what gave me hope.
I finally understood that Jesus Christ had died for me. That Jesus Christ had taken this condemnation that was weighing so heavy on my soul.
A preacher said this the other day when I was listening to a sermon on Romans 8:15, ‘For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’
He said, ‘One must receive the spirit of bondage before they can receive the spirit of adoption.’ I had to feel that very real fear before I knew the freedom from fear.
That’s exactly what happened to me. God brought me to the terrible realization of my sin and unworthiness and fear of hell and being separate from God and His beauty and grace and glory and love. It hit me like a train. THEN God continued this work in shedding His love, His adoption into my heart.
It was as if someone had whispered, ‘Peace be still. Emily, Jesus Christ took the price, the burden you could not bear. He has made you accepted in the beloved. He perfectly kept the law where you could not keep it at all. He bridged the unbridgeable gap between you and God the Father. He said, ‘It is finished’ and it is finished. Peace, child. All is well with your soul.’
Isaiah 43:1 became real to my soul, all by the MIGHTY grace and power of God. ‘
‘But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’
There was a process that lead up to all of this… God was and is still working something so incredible in my life when it comes to fear that I can’t even express it in 2000 words…
How do I say this? The girl who thought that she was the ‘good child.’ I was the girl who was pretty ‘kind’ and I didn’t speak my mind because I knew it might get me into trouble. I’ve even been termed before as the ‘goodie two-shoes’ because I honestly think I deserved it.
Why did I put on these impressions? It was because I feared what others thought, though what God thinks of me is far more important in the ultimate sense.
I know now that perfect love casts out the wrong fear.
1 John 4:17-19 really says it all … God’s Word is amazing.
‘Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us.’
Perfect love… I do know in my heart and soul that God so loved not only other sinners but myself, for no reason but His own love. He showed that love in sending Jesus. Jesus Christ took away that fear that has torment. Now, I have no more reason for that paralyzing fear of the unknown, the fear that torments your brain when you get up or go to sleep or see the pile of fear foods sitting on your plate, and you don’t want to eat it.
I definitely still struggle with fear because I’m such an imperfect weak person, but last week there was something that happened that taught me so much about the right and wrong kind of fear.
This is where ‘skydiving’ comes into the picture.
The morning of the sky dive was … nerve wracking and peaceful at the same time. It taught me so much about fear that I don’t think I can even summarize it all here, so I’ll just share as much as possible. 🙂
Disclaimer: I was comfortable doing this, and I prayed for a long time about doing it. God says that ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ in Romans 14, and though I am thankful that this seemed like it was the right thing to do, I’m not obligating anyone to try skydiving. Please be wise and discretionary about the activities you choose to do. Don’t seek my wisdom, but the Lord’s wisdom on these things.
What did I learn?
1) I often don’t fear when I know that it’s ‘safe.’ – I don’t think about my life being a vapor enough, and that morning, I realized that my life is really fragile. Even as we rode in the car from our house to the skydiving zone, I realized that today and even tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.
Every day is like a vapor. Why would I spend it fearing circumstances instead of trusting God?
Psalm 27:1, ‘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?’
These guys who went with us were so amazing. They were fun, but they were also very serious about the risks involved. They were careful, concise, and very mindful of protecting and preserving life. We knew that skydiving is not a safe sport, and though they wanted us to enjoy it, they were SO good about leading the way with knowledge and wisdom through every part of the process.
They also taught me that ‘laughter and smiles’ are still good medicine, even when you’re about to go skydiving.
3) The last moments before the first guys jumped out of the plain: (i.e. the videographer and some other guys who were getting their jumps in for the day) was a strange moment for me.
R., the guy who was my tandem instructor asked me a question.
‘Emily, who’s your best friend?’
I couldn’t lie. I really couldn’t. R. was a nice guy. He was a kind guy, made in the image of God, but he wasn’t my best friend at that moment.
I whispered or ‘yelled’ in the plane’s roaring motor. ‘God is! Jesus is my best friend.’
R. kind of disagreed, but we won’t go into that.
The thing was that I thought about my soul at that moment. There is no power on earth that can save my soul tonight besides the power of Jesus Christ who rose from the dead. There is no person who can give me hope beyond the grave but Jesus.
And all my thoughts came crashing in that this is the right kind of fear.
Fearing the God who made the heavens with a holy, godly fear, a reverence, knowing that without Jesus I would be destroyed in hell because I deserved it is the right kind of fear.
Hebrews 12:8-9, ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire.’
This isn’t that fear that torments me. It’s a fear that quiets me and makes my soul sober; it has made me search my heart and cry out to God, ‘Cleanse me from every wicked way within me.’
And I know that He is with me. So instead of fearing all the things that I can see, He fills my heart with a quiet, awe-filled wonder and worship of the God who made me and the love and the act of Jesus Christ that saves me.
2 Timothy 1:7, ‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’
It’s not a timid fear. It’s a fear that makes me sit low and think of myself in a low way and see God as so glorious that my soul can’t even express it or even know the height of His glory.
The Right Kind of Fear:
It’s the fear that leaves you speechless.
You jump out of a plane all in one fluid motion, and you’re flying into the clouds, and you’re struck with so much wonder, you can’t say anything.
It’s that kind of fear that came into Job when He realized that God’s ways of dealing with His children are not something that we can explain or understand but that we just need to trust and repent.
Job 42:1-6, ‘Then Job answered the LORD, and said I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
I could try to justify myself to you, before men and women, but when I’m brought face to face with my smallness and God’s bigness, all I can do is worship and wonder at His mercy and compassion for someone who is so small.
turns you from fear of circumstances and food and the number on the scale to the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth who cares for the sparrows and sees everything that goes on everywhere and will ultimately deliver perfect justice to all.
It makes you think about how amazing it is that God can care for every single one of His children and never be weary or faint.
The Right Kind of Fear
leaves you with a sense of incredible peace thinking that God has your future planned out in every detail, and that He says that ‘All things do work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.’
The Right Kind of Fear
turns you from looking at the fires of hell that you were destined for and thanking God for saving your soul from hell and giving you hope, hope that will never disappoint.
is so filled with a love that God sheds abroad in the sinners heart. It’s so filled with love and wonder, that you want to spend your whole life telling others about it.
I’m afraid to tell others sometimes about what Jesus Christ has done for my soul, but the wonder of it, by God’s grace only, outweighs that tormenting fear.
Perfect love does cast out the fear that has torment.
It casts out the fear of:
Too Many Calories
Other People Judging You for the wrong reason
Other People seeing every side of you even the ugly side, the raw side, that God is still refining.
and it puts a new song, a new song of worship into your heart.
I never knew that Christianity was this free till now. It was like I had been reading my Bible all along, but it wasn’t in my heart. It was in my head.
The eating disorder brought that all to a head.
It showed me the right and the wrong kind of fear. God used it to show me that perfect love casts out all TORMENTING fear, and gives complete freedom.
This post is almost 3,000 words, but I’m praying that by God’s might power and the love of Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in hearts that it will give you so much comfort.
I’m going to leave you with a few verses about fear.
1 Peter 5:6-7, ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’
Psalm 94:19, ‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’
Romans 8:38-39, ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’