Honest Fear

“What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.” ~ Frederick Buechner

Contradiction is always puzzling, and at times downright troubling. One such apparent confutation arises in Holy Scripture. In one New Testament verse we are told: “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). A different Old Testament passage allows: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in God” (Psalm 56:3). One is a declaration that fear flees the presence of Perfect Love. The second honestly owns up to fear, then looks confidently outside itself for comfort. So, which should be true for the Christ-follower? My answer, if you could hear it audibly, would issue forth in something of a harassed whisper: “Both.” Clearly, we are not re-created to slink along in paranoia, riddled by doubts and threats, both foreign and domestic. Our Merciful Father intends to drive fear from us in the wake of ridiculous love. The prerequisite is relentless honesty.

Fear is a ruthless task master. The most damning aspects are those that remain hidden; in other words, the unfaced demons that lurk in the shadows pulling us down toward cowardice and paralysis. I must confess I deal with my own demons, unrequited phobias couched in questions such as: “Will I be remembered as a man of ideas, but void of substance?” “Am I wasting what little time I have left?” “Do I ever measure up?” Shadows haunt the past, mists fog the future. The greatest gift I can offer myself is honest admission. Unidentified and unanswered fear prevents us from being fully present, from embracing grace here and now. Doubt is not my enemy; dishonesty destroys mercy. Fear halts our dancing and insists on a limp. Honest recognition releases miracles; confession effuses divine love. Prepare right now for love unfettered by identifying fear by name and owning your pain, then surrendering it all to Almighty God, who is, by the way, Love.

Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven to earth come down,

Fix in us thy humble dwelling,

All thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesu, thou art all compassion,

Pure, unbounded love thou art;

Visit us with thy salvation,

Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit

Into every troubled breast,

Let us all in thee inherit,

Let us find that second rest.

Take away the love of sinning,

Alpha and Omega be;

End of faith, as its beginning,

Sets our hearts at liberty.

Come almighty to deliver,

Let us all thy life receive;

Suddenly return and never,

Never more thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

Serve thee as thy hosts above,

Pray, and praise thee without ceasing,

Glory in thy perfect love.

Finish then thy new creation,

Pure and spotless let us be;

Let us see thy great salvation,

Perfectly restored in thee;

Changed from glory into glory,

Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before thee,

Lost in wonder, love and Praise.

(Charles Wesley)

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