Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fear - the beginning

Posted by Terry McNichols
I have put off my thread on fear, because I need to go back to the beginning. Well, it's not actually the beginning, I'm sure, but it was a turning point for me as an adult. We lived in a Navy town, next door to the hospital where my husband worked. I never locked my doors, trusting that I was protected, living in fact inside the fence at the Navy base, with a guard at every gate. How much safer could one get?

One day, about mid-morning, I was upstairs with my two toddlers, aged 3 and 1. I heard someone come in the back door and assumed it was my husband. I called out to him. No answer. I came down the stairs and found a man in pajamas in my living room. I recall thinking "Why are you jogging through my living room?" but I don't know if I actually said that or not. My immediate reaction was to turn and run out the front door, screaming and banging on the neighbor's door.

This story had a happy ending. Several Navy corpsmen appeared immediately, having been chasing the man who had escaped from the mental ward of the nearby hospital. The frightened man ran out the back door, into their arms. But for me, my nighttime whatifs had a new face -- a reason to be. Gone was my sense of wellbeing, my feeling of safety. My doors were locked all day. My husband could barely get into the house. I relived those moments again and again, chastened that I would run out the door and leave my two toddlers alone upstairs. What was I thinking? The reality was that I did the wisest thing. But what if....

In working through my fears, which took several years, I came to the realization that no one is safe. No king is saved by a mighty army. A horse is a vain hope of victory. I am powerless.

The rest of that chapter in Psalms was the answer to my fears:
"But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."
I began keeping a list of the promises of God, found in the Scriptures. I choose to put my faith in God's love and sovereignty.
(Photo by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha, shared via Flickr)

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