Fear Not?

I don’t know if I should or not, but during this season I can’t help but connect with the emotions that flowed through Jesus in the days leading up to his crucifixion.

The emotion that confronts me today is fear. I know that the scriptures say that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. And when I try to put myself in Jesus’ emotional shoes on this Thursday, I can’t imagine that he wasn’t fearful. He seemed to know that his best friends were going to abandon him. He was aware that the leaders of his own religion and the government were going to abuse him. He had to know that he was going to be exposed and humiliated – front and center – before crowds of people. And then there’s the unknown pain and torture of that brutal, excruciating way of death that he was facing. That horrible crucifixion. Even its name makes me anxious and uncomfortable.

I am going to be honest here. It seems to me that when Jesus was in the garden, asking the father if he might take away the cup of horror that he was about to drink, he seemed like he was afraid. If not, what was the anguish that forced blood droplets through his pores like grape juice out of a winepress?

We could probably get around this with semantics. Maybe it was just anguish that wracked Jesus, not fear. Maybe Jesus was experiencing acute fear, but not a spirit of fear. I will leave that debate to theologians. All I know is that what Jesus faced would scare me to death.

The other emotion that really affects me on this Thursday is resolve. Whether or not Jesus was experiencing fear, he didn’t allow it to dictate his actions. He didn’t let fear skew his perspective of right and wrong and good and bad. He overcame his emotions and did that horribly hard thing that he knew was best. Oh, to be like him.

Today, in your life and work you might be facing a test, a presentation, a confrontation, an opening, a closing, a threat from a competitor, a bad economic turn, unemployment, illness, disloyalty, absurdity, dysfunction, change. And you might be experiencing fear. From this human to you, I think that’s probably understandable and okay. But here’s the thing. Don’t let that fear change you or what you know is right or the direction in which you are called.

If you are experiencing fear, okay. If you have to, cry, shake your fist in the air, question, wonder, tremble, be sad, be mad, pace, pray, talk. But don’t give in to fear.

Don’t let fear contort you into someone you’re not…or into someone others fear… or avoid … or mistrust …Don’t let fear make you into a coward or a compromiser or a traitor. Be afraid and be true to the character God has sowed in you.

And by all means don’t let fear take your eye off the ball. Even if this moment feels like it will crush you, do not let it. Even if the craziness of your situation seems unjust, stay just. What matters is not the emotion you feel but the obedience you choose in spite of it.

I pray that, in the midst of any fear you might be feeling today that you might know the power of the Holy Spirit that keeps you mindful of God’s care for you. And I ask that that same God might give you a strong mind so that you can be true to him and the good path he has for you.

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