Monday, October 11, 2010

Not a Spirit of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The passage above is perhaps one of my least favorites in all of scripture.  Not because I don't think that it's an absolutely incredible promise and statement, because I do.  I don't like it because it has been used as a weapon.

If I had a dollar for every time that someone has quoted that passage to me as a supposed "solution to all my problems", I'd be rich.  The gist of their thinking is almost always along the lines of "Well, don't be afraid, fear isn't from God, you know."

Really?  I hadn't caught that in all those years I spent growing up in church.

That's your big solution to the overwhelming and paralyzing fear I sometimes struggle with?  Just "don't be afraid, it's not from God."  Thanks for that.  No really, thanks for the helpful advice.

Obviously I've never said any of these things out loud to whoever the well-meaning person quoting my "favorite" scripture verse to me was.  I'm polite like that.  And well-trained.  And I might have permanent bite marks on my tongue, too.

When you're buried in overwhelming fear, "stop being afraid" just doesn't seem like an option.  When fear overwhelms whole arenas of your life, you're generally aware that that fear likely isn't a godly thing, and someone reminding you of that fact just feels like rubbing salt in an open wound.

And then, in God's usual way, he used my least favorite thing as an object lesson recently.

I'd woken from a brutal dream, terrified, and trying to pray.

It was one of those moments when God borrows his own words from scripture to speak.

"I didn't give you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

There's something different about those words when they're being offered by the original author, and not being quoted as easy solutions to a problem that the person doing the quoting can't quite understand, and quite possibly fears themselves.

When God spoke them into the chaos of my heart that early morning, they carried an instant peace.  A knowledge that I was loved, and the One who loves me was intervening in the darkness that had encroached while I slept, and pushing it back.

That passage will probably never be one of my favorites.  There's an awful lot of cynicism built up in me about it.  But, when Jesus speaks it, I'm going to stop to listen.  Because when He speaks it, something special, something healing, is on it's way.