Fear is something that is part of the human experience from the time we are young children up until we draw our last breathe in this world. The kinds of fears people experience run the full scale from heights, snakes, job loss, to ones I did not know existed “apeirophobia- the fear of infinity.” I’m not even sure how you fear infinity on a practical level but apparently someone does. I read something one time where one of the Ringling Brothers trapeze artists refused to travel by plane, even though they offered to put a net underneath it. Not long ago while flipping the channels on television during a much needed time off and there on a day time talk show was a guest who was petrified of bananas. That would be Bananaphobia. Of course, these are some of the odd ball fears that we certainly don’t run into every day. But in reality there is something that each of us fears. Frankly, I have a fear of the unknown. I always like to see what’s coming even if I don’t like it. I do not like to be surprised or caught off guard. I was thrown a surprise party one time and, understandably, I let them off the hook.
A biblical concept but one that is often overlooked is the fear of the Lord, rightly fearing God. Not many sermons are preached these days on this topic and that’s unfortunate for the blessing that many are deprived of on account of that reluctance. Oswald Chamber is quoted saying, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” What is bigger than God? What is there that we can fear that he does not have complete and utter sovereignty and authority over? Nothing. Rightly fearing the Lord means the rest of our lives are in their proper place, even our fears. In Psalms, David writes, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Essentially, you need to put your fears in perspective. Everyone has them. What might petrify someone makes someone else excited. What someone finds scary another person goes to a movie theatre to see, and can’t get scared enough. How you deal with your fears determines whether you are immobilized or you can live your day normally. Remember, fears are just thoughts, they are an interpretation of a situation that you are presented with.
The phrases above — by really only needing to ‘fear’ the Lord, means that you realize — you really don’t need to worry. You can trust that He, or whatever you perceive to be a higher power, can take your worries and fears and deal with them for you. Fear is a shadow. It doesn’t exist except in your mind. Fear is an indication that you may need to stop a second, and think about things rationally. But that is key — deal with it, come up with a plan of attack to overcome with it. Identify why you are fearful or something, see if there is any legitimacy to it, and act appropriately.
One of my favorite sayings in relation to fear is, “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered and no one was there.” Another fear knocks on the door of my heart all the time: the fear of man. One of the authors of Proverbs writes “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (Prov. 29:25) Being afraid of what people will think of us is a very common fear. Preachers avoid topics or even true convictions for fear of what people will think. What the writer said is true, it is a trap, a trap that is impossible to escape. But the minister or layman who fears the Lord and trusts in him is freed from that snare and can live in liberty. Like the apostle Peter who was invited to come out and walk on the water with Jesus, his legitimate fear of the raging waters was overcome by faith until he took his eyes off Jesus then began to succumb to them. But with eyes of faith locked upon Christ, we can walk on the backs of our fears because God is our refuge and we take safety in him.