Three wonderful things conspired together this past weekend—with the prompting from the Holy Spirit—for me to write about being fearless. One was an interview I saw with George Foreman, one of my favorite people, on CNN last weekend. Years ago George and I were on the radio program, The Osgood Files. We don’t know each other personally, but we both had the common experience of being greatly affected by our connection to the natural world; George as a youthful offender who had been sent to the Job Corps in Grants Pass, Oregon instead of prison and I as a ranger. In the job corp George found nature. I still remember in the interview how George waxed eloquently about seeing, “. . .streams and all the beautiful trees,” for the first time and how it changed his life. Even so, in this most recent interview he still spoke of fear of going hungry.
The other event this past weekend that confirmed my motivation to write about fear was watching the comic book movie, The Green Lantern. I only watched it because there was nothing else on worth watching. I’m not a fan of the Green Lantern, or so I thought. The movie’s controlling idea was that you must admit your fears and overcome them. It was not a subtle message, buried deep within a complicated plot. The films villain was fear itself. The shortcoming of the film is that it led one to believe that facing your fears is all that is necessary. Ah, if it were only that easy.
Fear is a powerful emotion. It can motivate us in a positive way: fear of getting burned by fire is a good thing; fear of failure can be a demotivator and a bad thing. Most of all and most of the time, fear is crippling. Fear has its root in a faithless life filled with doubt. Doubt stems from being unaware or asleep. And being unaware or “asleep” while you think you are awake comes from separation from God.
I talk a lot in these essays about separation from God. It has prompted some of my readers to ask, what or who is God. Some say, they just don’t understand what I mean when I talk about God let alone being separated from God. However, the more careful reader may have noted that I also have spent time talking about how to stay in your “Godly Center” through prayer and meditation. I even described in detail in a previous essay how to meditate so that you can clear your mind of distractions and allow your spirit to become open to communication with the Spirit of God. It is an intensely personal experience. You have to desire with all of your heart, mind and spirit to “know God” for God to reveal himself. Awareness is another way of staying awake so that you can see and know God.
I have also encouraged my readers to love their enemies. No greater words were spoken in Scripture than these, God is Love. If you desire to know God, if you seek, ask and knock in an intensely personal way as Daniel did (we should all take a page out of Daniel’s playbook if we really want to know how to become one with God. See Daniel Chapter 10), then God will reveal himself to you by his Spirit and your spirit and God’s spirit will become one. God’s love will then fill your life.
What has this to do with fear? One of the most powerful yet glossed over and misunderstood teachings of Scripture comes from I John 4:18, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Of all of Jesus’ disciples, John was unique. He discovered the truth early on in his discipleship. That truth being, love. If you are asking what is the nature of this love John found, it was that he had a single hearted and single minded desire to know God. He above all of the disciples recognized God in Jesus, because of this single minded and single hearted desire. Think of it this way. Some of you may have experienced falling deeply in love with someone. You have heard of the term loving until it hurts. The feeling is almost indescribable. Well multiply that a million times and you begin to understand the nature of the love John felt for God. It is the love we must have.
Those that experience this kind of love are the most fearless of human beings: Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the furnace, John the Apostle singing with joy and praising God as he was crucified. All loved God intensely and lived fearless lives. These people lived transcendent lives steeped in love, making them capable of seeing God’s glory everywhere they looked.
While most of us will not face torture and death to test our faith, we will confront daily challenges that will call on us to overcome our fears. We must learn to face our daily lives in a calm and resolute manner, free of fear. As long as your mind is distracted by fear you can not be guided by the Spirit of God. Why? Because if you have fear it means you have not sought God with all of your heart, mind and spirit.
Okay, I know some of you love to keep score. I said in the beginning paragraph that there were three things that led me to write about fear. I have only given two. The third has to do with my own personal struggle with fear. Note that the words of the disciple John said “PERFECT LOVE, casteth out fear”. I could not understand for the life of me why I continued to have fear of some of the silliest of things. Why did I doubt, like Peter at the very moment I was about to be held up by the hand of God? It is because of imperfect love. Think of it like this. You have that love until it hurts feeling for the girl or man of your dreams. You get married and you are living a wonderful life. Yet, your heart strays and you begin to take a peak at that pretty girl next door, or the handsome man in the lunchroom. Your love is no longer perfect. You have become distracted.
In the very same way our love of God can become imperfect as we are distracted by the things of this world. Fear creeps in and we are subtly tormented by the silliest of things. It’s so easy to become distracted. But to the degree that we keep the desires of our heart pure the Glory of God is revealed day by day. And there is no distraction that can compete with the Glory of God. Keep your heart, mind and spirit fixed upon the things of God and as always in your heart proclaim:
To God Be the Glory