Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Freedom from Not-So-Imaginary Fears"

Micah 4.1a, 3b-4 NIV

“And it will come about in the last days that…”

“…they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.”

The popular notion that no one can make you feel anything, that each person is entirely responsible for his or her own feelings, is not necessarily biblical and not always true. If a crazy man waves a loaded gun in my face, he has made me afraid. He is responsible for my feelings. His action made me feel fear. Micah the prophet describes a fear-less future where “no one will make [us] afraid.” He promised,

“And it will come about in the last days that... every man will sit…
under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.”

What a day that will be! Today there may be reason to fear. Then there will be nothing to fear. “In the last days” no one will lock their doors, wear protective armor, prepare for war, engage in politics, suffer from gossip, battle public opinion, reach for a gun, look over their shoulder, feel abandoned, know terror, or support a defense budget.

Children often suffer from imaginary fears. The ‘boogie-man’ haunted my childhood. He lived under my bed, behind the shower curtain, and in the basement of my house. Monsters mostly came out when I was alone and it was dark. They never dared to reveal themselves when my parents were close by.

My mom and dad are no longer here to protect me. I sometimes suffer from not-so-imaginary fears. Death, illness, wars, famine, crime, nuclear proliferation, holocausts, car wrecks, terrorist attacks, personal failure, public speaking, financial loss, recession, inflation, confrontation, rejection, embarrassment, impotence, chaos, confusion, old age, or a crazy man with a gun. These things can possibly happen. If I live long enough, some of them most certainly will. I feared for the life of my precious wife when she suffered from cancer. My fears were realized. She died 10 months after her diagnosis. I still miss her dearly as the kids and I face our third Christmas without her.

I may have good reason to fear and yet, Jesus is always with me and quietly reminds me, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Christ’s voice to my heart is unmistakable: “Fear not” (Matthew 10.28, 31 ESV).

Perhaps today...

I can calmly ‘sit under my own fig tree with no one to make me afraid’.

Perhaps today...

I can have courage and confidence in the midst of a broken and imperfect world.

Perhaps today...

I can experience “the last days” of peace in my heart as they will someday appear on earth.

Perhaps today...

I can enjoy a little freedom from my private collection of not-so-imaginary fears.


The photograph at the top of today's post is from a series entitled "Childhood Fears" by photographer Joshua Hoffine whose photos you easily find by a Google search. Be advised that the images are graphic in their portrayal of the terror many of us felt as children. In the artist's own words, "I believe that the horror story is ultimately concerned with the imminence and randomness of death, and the implication that there is no certainty to existence. The experience of horror resides in this confrontation with uncertainty. Horror tells us that our belief in security is delusional, and that monsters are all around us."

I have never heard a better description of the reality of horror than these words by Mr. Hoffine. While "horror tells us that our belief in security is delusional," God is able to break the bondage of fear common to the human soul by the power of His Word. Jesus followers find inner security to face and combat their fears, both those real and imagined, from the words of Jesus: "Have faith" (Mark 11.22) and "Fear not" (Matthew 10.28).

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