Fear can be a tyrant, a dictator, a slave driver; a poisonous snake full of deadly, paralyzing venom. Not the healthy fear that triggers the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in your brain to keep you safe from harm, or causes you to have a sense of awe and healthy respect for God, and others in positions of authority. No, I’m talking about the evil kind; the kind of fear that poisons your relationships, kills your dreams, and paralyzes your potential.
Fear sets no boundaries for itself, considers nothing sacred, is no respecter of person or status, and makes a mockery of all who try to ignore or deny its existence and influence in our lives. It breeds insecurities, spawns narcissism, and pits us against each other giving rise to feuds, wars, and weapons capable of destroying all life on planet earth. Fear wears many disguises and can make us talk louder or softer; square our shoulders to strut in arrogant defiance or favor the fetal position, and laughs in our face when we try to stare it down with nothing or no one more intimidating and powerful to back us up.
The only antidote for fear is courage. Courage is not necessarily the absence of fear, but having the resolve and the ability to do what is right and ought to be done, even if you feel afraid. Courage is a life-giving and life-sustaining elixir blended from a root called truth, and a spirit called ‘backative’. Let me explain.
I was about seven or eight years old growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, and spending some of my summer holidays at my aunt’s house when a scandal erupted in our extended family over a distant cousin who had become pregnant at sixteen. The adults tried to avoid discussing the situation in front of my young cousins and I, but we knew something was up; that being pregnant so young was a scandalous thing, and that everybody was in a tizzy! Not knowing anything about the ‘birds and the bees’, I pestered and pestered my older cousin to find out how a girl could get pregnant, and when she couldn’t stand the annoyance anymore, she told me that if you swallowed a watermelon seed and then sat next to a boy, you would get pregnant.
Wouldn’t you know it? Not many days later all the cousins were sitting on the wall that surrounded the yard, swinging our bare feet, and contentedly eating slices of watermelon. I had swallowed several seeds without a care in the world until, one of the young boys from the house next door decided to jump up on to the wall too and plopped himself down right next to me! Dear Lord Jesus! I was torn between giving the kid an almighty shove off the wall, or taking a flying leap off the wall myself, but I was having trouble doing either as fear bordering on terror wrapped around my heart because I knew it was too late! I was pregnant!
My cousin got in soooooooo much trouble for the torture and torment I went through before I was forced to tell the adults what was wrong with me; how I had gotten pregnant through absolutely no fault of my own. I don’t even remember who it is that finally told me the truth about how you actually become pregnant, but I do remember the flood of relief as fear fled as quickly as it had come because of my knowledge of the truth.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
Lies open the door of your life and invite fear in to take up residence, but knowledge and acceptance of truth will evict fear and slam the door shut in its face.
I was also a mouthy, skinny, stick of a kid with no chance of winning a fight unless my opponent was a lot smaller than I was, so I learned quickly when to keep my mouth shut, no matter what the provocation. That is, unless I was with my slightly older, built-like-a-tank cousin, who because he had a really bad stutter since early childhood preferred to fight rather than argue. I was ‘the mouth’ and he was ‘the fist’. In Jamaica we call it having ‘backative’! I would back him up in a verbal battle with my loud mouth, extensive vocabulary, and loads of head-shaking, finger-snapping, arms-akimbo attitude, but if things got ugly and fisticuffs were required, he would have my back.
If you have someone on your side who sees all, and knows all, who has absolute power over everyone and everything that could conceivably cause you to fear, then it is possible to begin to believe that you can be courageous; you can do what is right, what ought to be done, even if you feel afraid. David knew this well as he writes:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust… His truth shall be your shield and buckler (a small round shield)… For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. …” Psalm 91:1-2, 4b, 11.
But even better is God’s reaction to David’s confidence in Him:
“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has knownMy name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15
That, my friend is ‘backative’!
So here’s the thing, giving in the fear will only lead to disappointment, sorrow and regret. You do not have to let your fears have dominion over you, cripple you, or imprison you. Set yourself to know God’s truth about every fear that would torment you, confident that His love and power will always back you up, so you can keep on…just living the thing.