(This is a speech that I had to write for English class a while back. I hope you enjoy it.)
I have a question for you. Have you ever struggled with fear? When you where younger it might have been fear of the dark, but as you got older it might have spiraled into a real fear complex. For me it started at age ten when a two year rejection started. It wasn't my fault that a couple of my friends decided to reject me, but I felt that it was and I became afraid. Afraid that no matter how hard I tried I might always be rejected. As I have watched people over the years I have noticed that many if not all of them have at one time or another struggled with fear. That is why today I will be speaking on the difference between fear and fear of the Lord and how we can change from the one to the other.
A little while ago I was faced with a frightening and challenging experience that deepened another part of my fear complex. My fear of the unknown. By this time I was just plain tired of my fear. I had lived in fear for the past 5-6 years of my life and I was ready to be rid of it. But I really didn't even know where to start so I called a trusted and godly family friend for advice. After I had explained the situation to her she told me this. “Kaitlin, these thoughts of doubt and fear you are having are not originating from you or from God. They are thoughts of the devil who is taking advantage of you in this way in order to take over your life. If you give him even the smallest little portion of your heart he will seize the rest by force. The only way to keep him out is to hand your life over the one who is the author of peace and trust and confidence. Keep your mind stayed on Him and He will direct your paths.” That made sense. But how could I get rid of this fear? How could anyone? It all seemed so impossible. I was slightly confused, so I started out on a search through the Bible and the spirit of prophesy. I will just share with you a few of the things that I have found.
Part of this new search routine I implemented was a nightly Bible reading. On the first night of the Bible reading I came across this verse. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence and His children shall have a place of refuge.” proverbs 14:26. At that moment this verse became my motto. That was exactly what I needed. Strong confidence and a place of refuge. But If you will remember there was a certain stipulation to having the confidence and place of refuge. You had to fear the Lord and be His child. I was afraid, but what was the difference between my fear and the fear mentioned in this verse. I didn't even have a very clear idea of what the fear of the Lord might be. The answer only became clear as I was reading in the spirit of Prophesy one day. It isn't a cowardly fear that we have toward the Lord, but and entirely proper fear that regulates the christian experience. It is a fear that we will come short of the glory and majesty of God. It Is a fear born out of love. Just to illustrate this point, lets take a moment to imagine a young boy. This boy is sitting in a corner with a guilty look on his face. His fingers are sticky and one hand is hidden behind his back. The reason for these actions become apparent when we observe the stolen sweets in the hand behind his back and when we here the lads name being called by his father. The child knows he has done wrong. He loves his father and he is upset that he has disobeyed and will make his father upset. He also knows that his father loves him to much to let him get away with any wrongdoings. What would it mean if this boy hadn't disobeyed, but rather had walked in fear of his father? Well, it would mean that he would reverently obey his father in honor of His fathers wishes. Not because he was afraid but because he knew that his father loved him. Loved him enough to punish any disobedience. And the boy loves the father. So he walks as he knows his father would have him to. So, when we fear the Lord it is a fear that says, “I don't want to hurt you dad.” and also a fear that says, “I know that you love me so much that you wont let me get away with anything.”
But why would God want us to fear Him in the first place? Lets just take a moment to look at that. I think that this verse explains it best. “Oh, that there where such a heart in them that they would love me, and keep my commandments always that it might be well with them and with their children forever.”
Alright, so, not we know a.) A fear of God brings confidence and refuge b.) The fear of the Lord is a reverent obedience to His will, and c.) The Lord would have us fear Him so that He can bless us and future generations.
But now what? What is we know we need to fear god but we already have fear overtaking our lives?
Well, let me just say a little something about the habit loop. Their are three points to the habit loop. The cue, the action, and the reward. In the case, the cue would be something that comes up and arouses our fear complex, the action would be letting ourselves dwell on these thoughts and the reward is less then appealing. A big pity party. So all we have to do is get in there and change that middle step, what we do with that fear, and the rest should take care of itself. But how? Let me remind you of a Bible verse. It goes like this, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” We all know that David wrote this verse, but how could hiding Gods word in his heart keep him from sinning? It was because, as he filled his mind with things of God, the things of the devil began to be crowded out. Whenever he remembered a verse he was being reminded of what the Lord had done and what the Lord was willing to do in His life. It helped David, might not it help us? I mean, satan was the one who brought all these thoughts of fear in the first place, so it stands to reason that if we fill our minds with things of God and crowd the devil out, that the problem wouldn't be nearly as great and we would be much more able to deal with it. I think that one thing the devil particularly hates is someone who fills their mind with holy things. Why? Because it makes for particularly cramped quarters and the new tenants are not sympathetic to his way of doing things. Then He has to leave bag and baggage and go find a new home.
But why is refilling our mind so important? Let me bring your attention to a certain Bible story. Do you remember the parable of the man who had an unclean spirit in his home? He wasn't happy with the current state of things, so he sent the devil out and began house cleaning. Well, after a little while he decided that it was pretty good and he sat down for a rest. Meantime, the devil had been out house hunting. While he was thus occupied he came across seven more of his friends doing the same thing. They all wanted to see his old house that he thought so highly of, so they trooped of on a little side tour. When they got there they saw the beautiful empty house and the man asleep. Well, being very logical, they tiptoed in and set up camp before the man had a chance to wake up. When he did he was in a worse fix than he started out in. Lets transfer this story to our situation. Lets say that a few little thoughts of fear and doubt have taken up residence in your mind. You don't like them there so you send them away. Then you sit down all happy and self satisfied. You declare a little holiday from work in the Lords vineyard and prepare to take a spiritual nap. But while you are thus occupied those little thoughts go searching for a house. While they are out they come across more of the same and start telling them about how nice and comfortable that little house was. Well, all the rest convince the first that perhaps there is a little nook of that house still unoccupied that they could take possession of. When they arrive they find you spiritually asleep and you mind more empty then when they left, so they squeeze in and set up house keeping. Now we have a problem. But what if, when you kicked the naughty thoughts out, you had started praising the Lord and telling others what He had done for you. What if you memorized scripture and hymns. What if you prayed more than you texted? Why, then when those naughty thoughts came back, well, the house would be just to full and they would have to leave again.
But does this stuff really work? I mean we don't want to go to all the work to fill our minds and change our fear if its not really going to work and we will always be a slave to fear. Let me tell you something. After my first frightening experience, the Lord decided to test me and see how I would cope. Down the rode came another trial, straight toward me. It was a repeat of that rejection I was telling you about complete with an apparent refusal to forgive. At first I let this experience overcome me. I didn't understand what I had done and I just felt like crying. The devil was working super hard to reestablish his fearful doubting headquarters in my mind. I was rather slow to realize it, it took a couple of hours for the impact of what was happening to hit. But when I realized what was happening I decided to put my new plan into action. I started praising the Lord and reciting scripture. I chased all the fear and doubt away and kept my mind fixed on Christ. Praise the Lord, I was able to rise above the doubt and fear my mind was soon at peace. That situation has resolved itself, but it serves to illustrate what the Lord can do in a perviously fearful and doubting heart.
So my friends, I encourage you, what ever your fear may be, replace it with the fear of the Lord and the praises of His name, and you will find strong confidence and a place of refuge for you are His child.