It is crippling. Captivating. It seeps into your heart and marks its claim as an unwelcome tenant.
It is foolish to think fear is only defined as a sudden panic or a specific phobia. Rather, the most dangerous fear is the one that sits in your heart and slowly gnaws at your core. It eats away at your security, tampers with your joy, and conditions your love.
It doesn’t stick out and proclaim its presence. No, this fear lurks in the shadows of your self awareness. It is quite curious though that we as humans are drawn to it. We grow accustomed to the gnawing pain and hold on to it like an orphan to their favorite teddy bear. If it is taken away we feel the openness of freedom course through our veins and feel vulnerable only to climb back in to the false shelter of anxiety and fear.
We want to be a slave because it means something else will make our decisions for us. Anxiety turns to insecurity which people then cast on to others as insignificant remarks about a passerby or sly insults wrapped in the pleasant tone of a humorous joke.
We project our insecurities on others hoping that no one will notice the fault lies in the tongue that speaks it.
So we shift our appearance according to our audience in order to put on the best mask for our surroundings. We refuse to let any opportunity to better our public display pass us by. If you want proof simply go to your Instagram feed. We do not show our wounds or discuss what is truly bothering us at risk that someone will look down upon us or disagree.
Most of us can find a commonplace in all of this. Through fear, insecurity, and false identity we see that we “accept grace in theory but deny it in practice” (TRG). We are refusing Jesus’ open hand in invitation to the gates of Heaven. If the kingdom of God is the kingdom of freedom then we decline the offer and return to our shackles of fear.
But wait… this is not right. This is not living.
I am brought back to a time when a close friend was struggling with all of the problems above. Fear had captivated her heart and she could not believe in Love because of it. I was driving down the highway and the Lord interrupted my thoughts. He wanted to tell me about her. His sweet words wrapped around her like a beautiful melody. He said,
What do you believe? Consider your fundamental truths. Do you know that you are free? Your shackles are broken. You have heard about Me but do you trust Me? Love Me? When I stood there broken just as you are and I looked up into your eyes did you see the tremendous love I have for you? I promised to be with you and will not break my everlasting promises. There is not a fiber in My being that is against you. I have not abandoned you to these worldly grievances. Your soul is worthy. It is good. It is clean through Me. If you will have Me I am completely and utterly yours. Will you deny that? I will not stop loving you. I want all of you. I will not stop.
Heaven touches earth so He can cradle you in His arms. It is the essential truth. He looks through your brokenness and sees your inner being. The most beautiful creature ever beheld. He is proud of His creation.
1 John 4:18 says, “In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear: because fear implies punishment, and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.”
It is of the utmost importance that you understand His invitation for you is always open. He looks at you with extreme compassion, absolute fondness, and everlasting forgiveness. When we choose to remain in Him as He remains in us His heart swells with pride.
“In Christ Jesus freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are” (TRG).
We don’t have to appear put together and clean for others. We can rejoice in our brokenness together. On our journey as we collect the bits and pieces of ourselves we can look up and see others doing the same. For when we display our wounds we can heal together.
“Judgment depends on what we see, how deeply we look at the other, how honestly we face ourselves, how willing we are to read the human story beneath the frightened face” (TRG).
Our stories are too fascinating to be afraid to share them. Here we are allotted a certain amount of precious time and through this time we experience things so great that our feeble minds have trouble comprehending it all. He embodied flesh to experience the same things we do. He came for a bigger purpose.
In Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov he describes the trail of Jesus against the Grand Inquisitor-meaning the church. It goes like this:
The Grand Inquisitor, an old man with withered face and sunken eyes, finally ended his blistering indictment against Jesus’ naivete and idealism. When the Inquisitor ceased speaking, he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man longed for Him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all His answer. The old man shuttered. His lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him, “Go…”
and the kiss glowed in the old man’s heart.”
The citation TRG is referring to the wonderful book titled The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.