What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The VCU Nose-Dive and Learning to Live in Fear

So if you would have asked me in college if 'fear' was a primary motivator in my life, I would have said heck, no.

And then I graduated and got my first ministry assignment with InterVarsity--staffing a healthy chapter of about 50 students at Virginia Commonwealth University. And then that healthy chapter of 50 was down to 15 by the end of my second year.

Suddenly, I began to recognize fears of all shapes and sizes drove much of what I did--both in the good times and the bad times.

Fear of failure. Fear of what others thought. Fear of disappointing others. Fear that I wasn't as smart or gifted or capable as I thought I was. Fear that what was happening in the chapter was a reflection of who I was, or wasn't...or that God had brought me here only to abandon me.

Fear, fear, and more fear. Over the years, the Lord has been good to show me how deeply woven into my psyche that fear is. Fear, it seems, is my constant companion. It drives me in much of what I do and it subtly tarnishes even my best and holiest moments.

These past several days the Lord has been good to have me in Psalms. Two things have stuck out as I've camped out in Psalm 32-34 these past several days.

The first is that the "steadfast love of the Lord" is the primary Noun in the world of the Psalmist. Good times or bad, the steadfast, never changing, always, permanent, faithful love of God is dominates the landscape.

The second thing that stands out is that the primary response of the Psalmist is fear. The fear of the Lord is the note sounded again and again and again in response to the characteristic steadfast love of God.

Of course fear in this context means a very different thing than the fears that are my perpetual motivation. Fear for the Psalmist means reverence, worship, awe, wonder. A deep sense that God is other, perfect, good, holy and steadfast in his love towards us catapults the Psalmist into a good, healthy, mouth-shutting, awe-inspiring fear.

So I've been praying about fear over these past couple of days. What would it look like if all my lower-case fears that gnawed away at my soul and robbed me of my joy were swallowed up in this one, final, good, holy Fear that is the only sane response to the steadfast love of the Lord?

What if fears about deadlines and performance and the past and the future were all subsumed in, consumed by, overshadowed by, re-oriented around this one necessary Fear? What if the primary Noun in my life was "The Steadfast Love of the Lord?" What if all was worship instead of worry and glad trust instead of anxious striving?

What if I was made to fear? What if my core problem is not that I fear too much it's that I fear too easily? What if there's only one escape from a life riddled with fears and that's to grow up into a much greater Fear that frees us to live in keeping with the most true thing in all the universe?

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