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A Spirit of Fear

August 13, 2010

“Are you going to move?  You can’t simply stand there all day.  What are you afraid of?”

I don’t remember how old I was.  To be honest, I’m not even sure it’s a “real” memory or if it’s a dream.  If it’s true, it took me several attempts to find the courage to jump off the high dive.  The memory goes with me climbing the ladder and standing at the back of the board looking out across the pool.  After minutes of trying to dig up the courage to jump, I slowly climbed back down the ladder…humiliated.

Some time later, not sure if it was the same day or not, the event repeats.  Again, I make my way back down the ladder.   As the memory begins to unfold, the time-lapse speeds up.  Finally, I muster just enough defiance to get to the end of the board and jump straight down.  Relief washes over me as I hit the water.  The rest, as they say, is history.


We are currently reading through the book of Isaiah as a family.  There are lots of verses in Isaiah that I love to read over again and again.  One of them, in particular, I cling to when I am afraid.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

What a beautiful picture that is!  I think of the number of times I say to my kids “give me your hand”.  I do it to keep them safe.  I do it to give them the courage to move.  I do it to protect them.  Here, this verse is telling us that we don’t have to be afraid because God has taken OUR hand.  It’s so easy as adults to feel like we have to do it alone.  We don’t…He is right there with us.

When I think about the things that I am afraid of, some of them seem silly.  There are the easy ones, like snakes.  bleh.  I could live the rest of my life without seeing a snake and I’d be happy.  There are some that are justified, like flying.  Yes, it’s justified.  Truly…  Then there are some that defy all logic.  You know what it is too.  Every time I see that I have an appointment coming up, I start to feel this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Yes, you guessed it.  I can admit it.  The d.e.n.t.i.s.t.  I am afraid of the dentist.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I can’t even tell you what it is. Sure, I’ve had issues in the past.  A filling that took too long and was painful.  A cleaning with an over zealous dental assistant.  My wisdom teeth extraction…yeah, let’s not go there.  I’m feeling ill.  I might just faint.

Whatever the reason, I am afraid of the dentist.  I’m so afraid that I put off going for almost 12 years.  Then I got pregnant with Michaela.  Something about pregnancy can cause damage to the teeth.  Add in 9 months of throwing up and you’re left with lots of teeth problems.  Fortunately, mine aren’t as bad as they could have been, but they are bad enough.  So, for the last 10 months or so, I’ve been going in and having my teeth fixed.  Mostly, she’s just had to repair old fillings that have cracked and is replacing them with the newer non-mercury version of fillings.

Since I’m heading back in tomorrow for just a regular cleaning, I’m not as nervous as I normally am.  My stomach is still in knots and I could easily decide to just ignore the whole thing..but here is the issue with that…

What am I teaching my children?

I know it might seem trivial, but there is something about a parent setting aside their own fears for the sake of their children.  I simply don’t want my kids to be afraid.  I don’t want them afraid of monsters in their closet (so I show them Monster’s Inc. like a good parent does), I don’t want them afraid that every stranger they meet is dangerous (so I keep them with me and teach them how to interact with strangers while under our protection), and I don’t want them afraid of doctors and/or dentists (so I set a good example and put on my best smile for the dentist).

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can Man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

Better still, I want them to know that when they ARE afraid, they can turn it over to God and allow Him to protect them.

That’s not to say bad things won’t happen if you asked to be protected.  We live in a fallen world and sometimes things happen.  However, we’re trying to teach them to replace their fears with hope and joy – and in doing so, there really is nothing to fear.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

We can live our lives hiding in the shadows and wondering what is lurking around every dental chair…or we can trust in our Lord and truly LIVE.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I am choosing to live without a spirit of fear.

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