Saturday, October 25, 2014

Leaving fear behind: a meditation on 1 John

"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. " 
                                                --Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933

I am terrified of fear, and with good reason, too.

I've seen what it can do.

Fear is scary stuff, and the fear of fear itself is among the scariest of all. It's like quicksand; the harder you struggle, the more impossible it is to escape.

You can't scare yourself into courage.

Only love can teach us how to be brave.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but it isn't the end.

In the end, love drives out all fear, after the love with which God loved us has reached its final destination, becoming our daily practice. 

(What can it mean to give ourselves up as propitiation for the sins of our brothers and sisters? These mysteries are frighteningly deep.)

Slowly, slowly, love is teaching me not to be afraid, and gently to unclench my fingers from around my fear of fear.

Fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears has not been perfected in love.

If I were to say that I have no fear, I would lie, and the truth would not be in me.

Slowly, slowly, I am learning to confess my fear; to quietly and bravely dig down deep into it, and trace its contours. 

When I am afraid of my fear, I clench my eyes shut, and open my soul to all its lying shadows.

But Jesus isn't afraid of my fear. He isn't ashamed of my shame.

He held them both inside his bleeding body, carried them all the way to hell, and now he lives.

Which means that so can I.

When I confess my fear, I find that God is faithful, and when I open my eyes I find beauty.

Everything becomes light when it is brought into the light. Even fear.

And it's in the truth about my fear that I find mercy.

Mercy to receive, and mercy to give.

Mercy that seals me into mercy, whispering to my soul that love has cast away all fear.

"God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
                                                           --1 John 4:16b

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