We all hate it. We all feel it. And most of us resent it.
As believers, we know we’re to fear not. That God is with us. We know that nothing will happen to us we can’t bear. We’ve all feared horrific things that later proved needless worry. And yet, knowing all this and more, at times we fear.
I’ve learned that fear can have value. It can warn us that we’re being followed, that we’re in danger, that we’re about to make a mistake that will prove costly. So there’s no denying that fear can be a protective tool. So knowing this, it isn’t wise of us to dismiss fear as a bad thing and just ignore it. Our instinctive reactions are often protective in divine ways.
Proof of that happened to me during a holiday season. I walked out of a store with my arms loaded with packages, and a man taking donations outside the store told me to be careful on my way home.
It wasn’t so much what he said as my instinctive reaction to what he said that snagged my attention and innately told me this wasn’t an idle remark but a warning.
In that case, it proved true. I was being followed. I was in danger, and that and hearing a verbal warning inside my mind to stop spared me from that.
This verbal warning made the hair on my neck stand on end. It wasn’t like the unfounded fears that run through our minds. It was distinct. Different. It was significant. I didn’t know it from anything sensed. I knew it intuitively. The voice I heard was not my own. The reaction wasn’t general. It was specific. And it spared me.
Once again that day I received proof that God uses people to convey messages to us that He wants delivered and for whatever reason He employs a surrogate. Maybe our own channel is clogged from a flood of sensory input. Maybe we’re so bombarded by other things, we can’t hear the still or small voice within us. Or maybe the message is, as it was for me that day, urgent and immediate and He wanted me to hear and heed Him right now.
Any of a thousand reasons are possible. And any of a thousand people would dispute that this incident was anything more than me picking up on some subconscious signal. Each of us has an opinion, of course, and we’re all entitled to our own. But I know, down deep in that place so far within we can’t pinpoint exactly where it is but never would deny it exists, I know that fear in that incident sprang from a divine source. God stepped in and wrapped His arms around me that day to protect me from harm.
I know it, just as I know where I sit right now. And even now I feel that same sense of humility and awe I felt then.
Fear unfounded isn’t productive or constructive. We all feel and fight it. But there is another kind of fear, too, and it is one of the means God uses to protect us.
So my point is that while we’re told to fear not, we’re also told to trust God. He will communicate His intent and messages to us in ways that might on the surface seem to conflict. But when you’re warned, you respond in immediate obedience, and you’ve experienced the wrapping of His arms around you, felt His protection, you understand that there is no conflict. There is comfort. There is peace. There is awe and, for me, there was surprise that He’d trouble himself for someone as insignificant as me.
And therein I discovered a second lesson, and that is, no one, not even a flawed and simple woman like me, is insignificant to God.
What a lovely lesson, and how grateful I am for it!