The second time – years later – I fell to my knees, screaming and pleading in my own living room, until I heard the unmistakable click of the gun cocking. I knew I had to be silent.
I’ve learned what fear is.
I’ve wrestled the darkness of my imagination and pleaded with God to show me how those verses in Scripture could be true – how does Jesus banish fear?
* * *
Months after the home invasion, after Brad moved us to an apartment so I wouldn’t hyperventilate every time our doorbell rang on sunny Wednesday mornings, I scrawled down a verse and taped it above my desk:
“So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6
What can man do to me? I sat back in my chair that day, looking at the verse, my head cocked like that gun had been, and imagined all man could do to me. I remembered the robber waiting for his getaway car, eyeing me while opening a button on his pants – the relief I felt when he changed his mind, said he’d run out of time, slipping out the door with my jewelry and electronics. I worried what horrors might have happened had my daughters been home, had my husband been there to attempt protecting us. What can man do to me? The answer to that question was endless.
* * *
Two years have passed. Two men are behind bars. Two times since then, I’ve read through the entire Bible, pausing carefully on verses about fear, hoping to crack some code that frees me from anxiety.
For the first time, I’ve begun to notice a funny thing about the subject of fear in Scripture:
The writers in Scripture are assuming that their audiences’ greatest fear is this: separation from God.
In Scripture, it’s never: fear not, you won’t be robbed. Or fear not, cancer won’t come. It isn’t fear not, your children can’t be harmed, your body won’t be scratched, your finances won’t be rocked, your spouse won’t ever betray. Oh no, Scripture promises that life will get hard. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!” (John 16:33). Take heart? In this world full of trouble, why should we take heart!?
We “take heart” for one reason: nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Storms will come. But fear not. God will use even the worst tragedies to pull His Children closer into His good Presence.
* * *
In my two year fight against fear, I’d been looking for the wrong kind of faith. I wanted a faith that would make me certain God would not allow any man to violently harm my family. I cherished safety, held it up as my god, and knew I’d sleep well again if only safety would never be disrupted.
We can make gods of anything. Idols are whatever become essential to us — the things we couldn’t bear should they be stripped away. Our heart falls in love — with a person, a comfort, an ideal, a situation — and our greatest fear becomes the loss of that idol.
Our greatest loves dictate our greatest fears.
My problem with fear was primarily a problem with where I placed my highest affection. We fear losing what we love. I loved safety for my family, so I feared losing it. But here is the problem: If our highest love is anything but God, then our highest love can be lost.
If the thing you love most is a person, a comfort, a dream, a lifestyle — then the object of your greatest love can be shattered in an instant.
On this earth, I could be held at gunpoint again. My home could be invaded, my children attacked. But if my heart changes — if my god becomes Jesus, rather than safety, I’ll never lose what I love most.
Perfect love — loving the Perfectly Unshakable One — casts out all fear (1 John 4:8). Loving Christ most means you’ll never lose what you most love.
For those who love God most, Scripture says fear not: if He is our highest love, we’ll never lose Him.
Fearlessness is knowing you cannot lose the One Thing you love most of all.