I have been more afraid this school year than any other year of my life. I’ve never moved before, I’ve gone to the same school for thirteen years, and I’ve never lived in a place where I am the only person that truly knows me. So beginning college was naturally a shock; it wasn’t home, it wasn’t “safe”. I was afraid.
And fear is a bad thing, right? It paralyzes. It’s no fun. It’s darkness. And with enough faith we can overcome it once and for all! Right? Maybe? I don’t know…
Now, I understand that one day we will be done with fear; we will be perfect, living in the perfect kingdom of our Father. But the truth is that right now we are weak people and this world is terrifying. If this were not the case, Paul would not plead with us to be “of good courage” and “not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1; 5:6). We are still a work in progress. The reason why we “are being transformed into the same image” (2 Corinthians 3:18) ofJesus is because we are not the exact image of Him now. Christ has justified us before the Father but we have not been made perfect like Him yet. Our souls have been illuminated in the darkness but the darkness still surrounds us. When the prince of this world sees our light, he may squint at first but he doesn’t give up trying to cover us again.
The reason I say all of this is because I have gotten the sense that Christians feel like they should be ashamed when they are nervous or afraid, as if they have failed Christ because they do not have enough faith or something. I know that I have felt this, quite often actually: before a presentation, meeting a whole bunch of new people for the first time, asking a girl out. I experience fear almost on a daily basis. And most of the time, when I look back, I feel ashamed about that fear. Why didn’t I trust God in that situation? Why didn’t I just pray harder and longer beforehand? Why am I so terrible at this fear thing?
Again, like my insecurity problem, I make this all about me and my wounds rather than about Jesus and his healing presence. You see, when I shame myself about my fear, I unknowingly put myself above God. I make a bigger deal about my inability to be perfect than his perfect ability to change me. I’m like a whining child, “Jesus I know that you made me right with our Father and that you are trying to make me more like you and that’s all great…but I messed up again and I just don’t like it!” Of course I messed up! Jesus is perfect and I am not! It’s going to take a little while for me to change! You know what, I won’t ever be perfect while I am still on this planet.
I need to calm down. Yes, I should expect there to be times in my life that I am afraid. But just like everything else in this world, God uses it for my good and His glory. He uses my fear to draw me closer to himself (ex. Abraham, the Apostles, David) and when I see it like that, things start to look a little nicer. Now I can stare into the darkness knowing that when I come out on the other side, whether dead or alive, I am going to be closer to my Father.
“Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:32-33
You know when Jesus said that? Right before he was about to be torn to shreds. His friends deserted him. He sweat blood. He pleaded with his Father to take the cup of wrath away from him. He was afraid. But in history’s darkest moment of fear, Jesus wasn’t focused on himself, he was talking with his Dad: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36, emphasis added). The crazy thing is that when Jesus stared into the darkness, he knew he was not going to be closer to his Father, he knew he wouldn’t gain anything from his agony. He stared and saw billions of pitiful souls being saved from eternity apart from His father. He saw you. He saw me. And that was enough.
The point I am trying to make is that when I’m scared I want to worry less about myself and just be with my Dad. I know I’m not perfect. I know I will probably mess up. But because of what Jesus did I can be with my Dad and know that he loves me. Like any good dad, He understands that it takes time to grow up and he’s not mad when I am afraid of the dark. He wants me to stop worrying about how incapable I am and simply walk with Him into the unknown. And you know what’s beautiful, the darkness isn’t so scary when I’m holding His hand.