In the wake of the infamous terrorist attacks of 9-11-01, our small county held a special service at the high-school. The service was for the benefit of the high-school students, many of whom were emotionally shaken by the attacks. They were asking, “How can we have any confidence in the future if this is the new state of the world?”
One of the service’s primary organizers was Mary Sue Ledford, who had been my English teacher my freshman year and my friend and supporter ever since. When she called to ask me if I would be one of the speakers, I was honored. But it was a particular quote from Mary Sue that stood out the most from that conversation. She said, “Russell, I will not live in a county of fear.” I had known her for years but had never heard her speak with that level of sincerity and passion. She meant what she said down to the core of her being.
Several years have now passed since that conversation, but I often find myself thinking back to Mary Sue’s quote. For obvious reasons, it comes to my mind when I am facing some daunting challenge or potentially perilous situation. When my first instinct is to shy away or pull back, her words remind me that fear is no way to live. That goes for not only living in a post 9-11 world but also many other seasons in life.
Of course, the Bible is certainly not silent on this issue, particularly when addressing the Christian. Consider the following verses:
-2 Timothy 1:7: For God has not given us (Christians) a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
-1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
-Romans 8:14-15: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
-John 14:27: Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
It’s been said that courage is not the absence of fear; it is doing what you ought to do in spite of your fear. I like that. And it is with that thought in mind, as well as Mary Sue’s quote and these verses that I have listed, that I ask you, Christian, “Are you somehow letting fear dominate your life these days?” Perhaps you are scared about an upcoming event. Perhaps you are scared of what some problematic person is going to do. Perhaps you are scared about the state of the world. I don’t know your circumstance, but I do know that people can be scared of all kinds of things. All I’m saying is, whatever your big, bad thing is, face it head on with a courage befitting a bona-fide child of God. Never forget that you are not alone in the fight. God is your heavenly Father. Jesus has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. And the Holy Spirit dwells inside you. So really, Christian, with the triune God right there in the fray with you, what could you possibly have to be afraid of? There is absolutely nothing that He can’t help you handle.