FEAR! That stifling emotion that stalks the average person like a sinister enemy
Fear! That stifling emotion that stalks the average person like a sinister enemy, always casting its shadow over the new and unknown,choking out creativity,
adventure, and success. But it is more than an emotion; fear is a dark conviction, a worldview, a personal frame of reference.
We seldom call it fear, for obvious reasons; better to call it timidity, nervousness, worry, caution, introversion, apprehension, anxiety, or phobia. If the reasons for our fear were apparent, no one would question our reluctance. But how do you explain to someone that you are afraid to ask a question for fear of looking stupid, or afraid of a social contact for fear of being looked down upon?
Fear is the belief that you don’t have the answers, the feeling that you are not up to the task. “How can I homeschool my children?” Fear is expecting failure before any attempt at success is made. “Nothing ever works out right for me.” Fear is a deadly virus that wreaks havoc on the vitality of hope. Fear and faith are opposite poles, set apart by a world of possibilities. Depending on one’s perspective, those possibilities are viewed as either opportunities or obstacles. To the fearless, opportunities spring up like dandelions in the spring. But the fearful expect everything to work against their success, and somehow it always does. The brave expect to excel, whereas the fearful chart a course toward mediocrity and accept it as their preordained lot in life, all the while complaining about cruel fate instead of taking charge of their lives. All of us are afraid of something. A big, strong, “fearless” man may actually have a dread of speaking in public, whereas it doesn’t bother some dried-up little wimp who would be scared to death to walk past the two guys standing outside the gas station. You can usually identify your fears, although you may not have previously recognized them as such, simply by looking for those dutiful things that you are “uncomfortable” with and tend to avoid. Are you afraid of returning a product that you bought? Are you uncomfortable meeting new people, sitting in someone’s presence without talking, approaching a person in uniform, being home alone, praying in public, sharing your faith in Christ, talking to your children about sex, or discussing your feelings with your spouse? And then there are the big scary things like cancer, stroke, heart attack, car wrecks, fire, atomic bombs, and terrorists on your airplane. Many families with children are afraid of the liberal agenda. The examples are endless. There are even things I am afraid of, but I am not going to tell you what they are; I’m afraid to.
The word “fear” is found exactly 500 times in the Holy Bible (KJV), the majority of times exhorting us to fear God. In addition, “afraid” is found 193 times. We are told to “fear not” 81 times. There is a proper fear. We are to fear God, fear the king, fear hell, but we are told not to fear the “terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday” (Psalm 91:5-6). That covers home invasion at night, flying missiles in the daytime, diseases like bird flu, and cataclysmic terrorist attacks at noonday. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Don’t fear losing your mind. “Fear hath torment” (1John 4:18). God has directed us as to how to deal with potential fear. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:3, 4, 11). “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1John 4:18).“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken” (Proverbs 3:24-26). The passage said not to be afraid of sudden fear (fear of fear), nor of the terrible judgments that come on the wicked. If our confidence was in our own resources, we might have reason to be afraid, but our confidence is in our God. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12: 2-3). I have always loved the imagery of that passage. It is my life. I can see my wife and me, along with our children, hilariously drawing living water from the wells of salvation, spilling it on the ground and throwing water all over each other, drinking our fill, and pouring it over our heads. “I will trust and not be afraid.” That is the key—trusting God instead of the stability of the circumstances.Many of the unnecessary fears we have can be minimized by simple knowledge and preparation.
When fear leaves you on the unhappy side of the fence, the Devil has won, but if you allow fear to send you back to boot camp to increase your knowledge and develop your skills, you will feel empowered rather than defeated. The tiny ant survives fire, flood, and long winters by being prepared (Proverbs 30:25). Almost thirty years ago when we had young children, we were afraid that a handful of misguided social workers would take them away from us. They threatened to do just that. I can still remember the tension as social workers came into our home with their questions and note-taking. I remember the “judge” telling me how much power he had and how he could remove the children from our home if we did not send them to public school. He was especially concerned about “Bible thumpers,” as he called them. This was all before there was any such public concept as homeschooling. We knew of no one else attempting it. Raymond Moore was the lone voice at that time, and we had not yet discovered his writings. It was scary. So we prepared. We prepared ourselves, our children, and our possessions to deal with any eventuality. Yes, of course we prayed, but we also prepared to the best of our abilities. We fought in the area of public opinion by contacting the TV and newspapers and getting our story on the six o’clock news and on the front pages. We went to the state capital and lobbied senators, and in time, we also attended rallies and organizational meetings. Laws were passed in our favor, and thousands joined us in what came to be called homeschooling. Because of this ground work, if you feel unjustly threaten by the local social department you can call Homeschool Legal Defense Association (hslda.org). At the time there was no one for us to call, so we prepared on another front. We prepared the whole family to move to another country that was more jurisdictionally friendly to the concept of homeschooling. Since ancient times, movers and shakers have had the option to move to a new land of “liberty and justice for all.” There may be less land to choose from, but it is wise for any pioneer to know his options, and be prepared to move on to greener pastures for the good of your family. Our plans to move were a last resort, after every cooperation and legal string had been pulled. Thankfully, for us, the legal system and honest communication was enough. We’re still Americans! Sounds a little crazy 28 years later, but you must remember that at that time homeschooling was strange and unknown to everyone. When friends and relatives discovered that we taught our children at home, it always provoked immediate suspicion and the same question from everyone, “Why?” This time of alertness caused us to focus on training our children in a wide spectrum of potential circumstances that they could face in an uncertain world. We trained our children to swim, walk long distances, use public transportation and telephones, live in the woods and swamps, drive a vehicle when very young, and how to spot and respond to predators and molesters. The children learned all this without becoming paranoid. “Fret not thyself because of evildoers….” (Psalm 37:1). They had no fear. They were perfectly secure. I think they thought of the preparation as a sort of exciting game, like taking martial arts, not because you expect to have to defend your life, but because it is satisfying to know that you can. Today, my children are all married and all have children of their own. None of us are afraid of the threats that we read about in the news every day—terrorists’ attacks, pandemics, wars, rumors of wars, wickedness in high places. We are ready. We know how to find and prepare food, how to build a shelter out of anything, how to treat sickness and disease without a doctor. We do not feel threatened today, but we still save enough seed each fall to plant the next year. We buy food in bulk and keep the old hand crank grinder from rusting. We are prepared for a long quarantine if need be. Life is a challenge, and it is always fun. To overcome is fun. To build is fun. To solve problems is fun. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:4-6).Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. That has been the expectation of every day of our lives. Sometimes when I stop suddenly, I think Mr. Goodness and Mrs. Mercy bump into me because they are following so closely. They have followed my kids for decades and now are right behind my grandchildren. As my family grows, so grows the job security of Goodness and Mercy. Zacharias prayed the prayer we should all pray, “That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75).