Sunday, December 29, 2013

TJ4: Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid...Or Not

So, realizing that my previous post is all about being afraid, I've been waiting for well-meaning "brothers and sisters in Christ" to quote Bible verses at me ... you know, those "comforting" verses about how we aren't supposed to be afraid because perfect love casts out fear and we haven't been given a spirit of fear, blah blah blah.
Side note: I am not in the least afraid to travel to the Middle East, though some of my friends seem very concerned for my well-being and have, like Agabus, tried to discourage my from going on this trip. The violence that erupts there, in my opinion, is no more likely to kill me than the violence that erupts in the town where I live. However, if it turns out that I am wrong, I don't mind leaving this world while doing something I've dreamed of for years. It seems to me a much better death than being hit by a semi on the interstate.
Where was I? Oh, yes, pondering the fact that I am afraid I will fail to enjoy this trip because I am (still) so worried that it isn't really going to happen. And feeling a bit guilty about this fear. Waiting for my friends to chastise me with "comforting" Bible verses. I've been blessed with friends who are a lot more sympathetic and forgiving than Job's friends were, however, so this anticipated barrage hasn't happened. My reaction to the silence? I opened my favorite online concordance and began looking up all the scriptures that contain fear or afraid so I could beat myself up. In the process, I saw all the familiar verses, but I also found quite a few that are less-frequently quoted. Here is a collection of ones I found especially interesting in light of my upcoming trip.

"Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there." (Genesis 46:3) Egad, I hope not. Sarah can keep that particular miracle all to herself--I want no part of it.

"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." (Exodus 14:13) Probably true, considering that I have no foreseeable plans to visit Egypt again. 

"You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful." (Deuteronomy 2:4) Oh dear. I had no idea the Jordanians would be afraid of me. I will be very careful.

I am well aware that I am taking these verses out of context. On a more serious note, I did find myself heartened by the reminder that the only fear I need in my life is a fear of God. More important, I was reminded that God himself is understanding and forgiving of my other fears: 
I took you from the ends of the earth,    from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’;    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you;    do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  
(Isaiah 41:9-10)    I think I'll hang on to this one for a while.

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