The Death of Fear

With the start of a new school year returns the rush of syllabi preparation, lesson planning, name learning, and technology battling that quickly sweeps away the last remnants of summer relaxation. Not only is there no time for blogging (sorry it’s been so long between posts), but there’s little time for much of anything outside of work.

I’m tired already.

Let me start by saying this: I don’t really care for “praise and worship” music. Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad; but by and large, I’m not a fan. It appears to reach some people and bring them closer to Christ, so that’s good (if appearances are to be trusted): I’m just generally not one of them. Having said that, there’s one song I love. It’s called “How He Loves” and was originally written by John Mark McMillan, although the best-known version is the one below by the David Crowder Band.

The first line is the one that gets me every time: “He is jealous for me. He loves like a hurricane; I am the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.”

Stripped from this song is the focus on self and sentimentality that often turns me off to P&W music, replaced instead by some beautifully poetic lines focused on what it is Christ does for us. And that opening phrase speaks so much about where I am right now.

I am one who is caught up in the storm of Christ’s love. I know that storm; I feel it; I am unable to ignore its constant presence around me. I am bent and pulled by the beauty and power and strength of His love, His unrelenting call that comes in waves and torrents.

But I am also torn.

I am one whose roots are not yet removed from the beaches of this world. I am attached, deeply in some ways, to this life and all that comes with it. And so, as I enter into His love, as I have moved closer and closer to the shoreline of the ocean of His grace, I have found myself amazed at times by the violence of His demands. Like a tree in a hurricane, I feel myself shredded by His winds.

As we hear in John’s first letter, “Perfect love casts out all fear”. There is much that I fear, and those fears are what keep me rooted in my sin.

Mostly, I fear what will happen if I let go completely. I fear where the storm will move me. I fear that I will be hurt in the volatility of the hurricane.

The next several posts will provide a glimpse into some of those specific fears, some of those roots that have tangled themselves in the soils of my life. But if you don’t read those, perhaps there is just this one thing I could share about what I’ve learned of His love.

There are no half measures in serving Christ. The Scriptures are rife with commentary on the commandment to give all, to not hold back any part of your physical or spiritual life for yourself, to have a trust and faith strong enough to let go of everything, everything, that this world promises.

And if you try to be a Christian without letting go of it all, you will be destroyed in this life (and perhaps the next). If you dare to move close to the ocean of His grace and then decide to hold on there, the power of his love will not be welcome, but painful. You will be among the countless Christians who find themselves not inspired and at peace, but tired and weak. That is not a particularly appealing option.

Any Christian knows that feeling of being shredded by the demands made on their natural self. But if we let go of our attachment to this life, uproot ourselves in abandonment to the storm of love surrounding us, then we can hope that there is peace and life to be found in the eye of the storm.

So many of us stay on the beach, allowing His grace to lap over our toes, catching the mist of his love as it crashes around us. But to be swept away: that is what we are called to. To be drowned in Him: that is our destiny. It is a frightening prospect, but the only option. When looking at the choice before me and the fears in my heart, I find myself much like Peter in today’s Gospel: “Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

That is where faith is born: that point where we finally give up on fear and allow our whole self to die, all the while trusting that there is a new life on the horizon.

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2 Responses to The Death of Fear

  1. Joe Walberg says:

    I’ve been thinking about this post since you talked about it at the beginning of the school year– in particular, I’ve been thinking about the first time I read the “Suscipe” prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola.

    Receive, O Lord, all my liberty.
    Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
    Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given me;
    I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will.
    Give me only your love and your grace,
    and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

    The first many times that I read this prayer, I was actually afraid to read it all the way through. It was promising more than I could deliver, and I didn’t want to give Jesus the impression that I actually wanted him to take all my liberty. So I’d read it in little chunks that never actually completed the whole prayer. I was trying to be a Christian without letting go of it all. Now, it is little surprise that I was being torn apart in the hurricane of Jesus’ love– shredded by holding onto my favorite sins.

    Good post above. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Pingback: Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Unplugging to Enjoy Life, the Death of Fear, Comparing Yourself, and others | The Catholic Wife

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