To Fear or Not to Fear… Part 1

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“I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. “

(Psalm 143:4)

Do you believe these words were written over 2200 years ago by King David? We remember David; The fearless young shepherd boy who slew Goliath with a slingshot and a rock! When everyone else in Saul’s army was cowering in fear, the young David tells King Saul, “Don’t worry about this Philistine, I’ll go fight him!” (Psalm 17:32) Is it any wonder when we think of characters in Scripture who were fearless, brave, and strong, the shepherd-king is at the top of most of our lists? So what happened between the fearless days of David’s youth and the writing of this particular verse in Psalm 143? I’ll sum it up for you in one word. LIFE! David is no longer a fearless young boy. He’s lived a little, failed a lot, and suffered loss and rejection. This passage of Scripture was written during one of the darkest seasons of David’s life. Speculation says that he was possibly running from Saul, and could have been hiding in a cave, like the Cave at Adullum (1 Samuel 22), or the Cave at Engedi (1 Samuel 24). At any rate, David’s heart was caught in a deep despair and depression brought about by his fear.

This fear had a paralyzing effect on him, and at the time of the writing of this Psalm, fear was hindering David from fulfilling the destiny that God had set before him. While the king had been victorious in more physical battles than you or I will ever face, he found this ’Goliath’ of fear a bit more difficult to slay. Can anyone other than me raise their hands to heaven and admit to having been there? The paralyzing impact of fear on the heart is not something to be taken lightly. I experienced it very recently in regards to the very publication that you are now reading. Caspar de Aguillar once said, “Fear can, though it is not God, create something out of nothing.” In my case it created an oversensitive, rejection charged atmosphere, and in the process held hostage my desire to fulfill an important part of why God placed me on this earth. Let me explain.

About eight years ago, I read the book Waking The Dead (The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive) by John Eldredge. The effect of that book on my life runs second only to the impact of Holy Scripture. One of the things that the reader was encouraged to do was to find a quiet place, sit in your favorite chair, do something that allows you to relax, get a pen and paper and write down what you LOVE to do. John told me that this may prove to be a difficult task, because this world, along with our life experiences, have conditioned us to live from the perspective of what we need to do, as opposed to what we love to do. As a result of that exercise (really as a result of the entire book), I reconnected with a life-long passion for writing. I remembered writing courses that I took as a child. I remembered awards won, and competitions lost. I remembered submitting my first piece of literature to a publisher for consideration, and the sting of the rejection that followed. I was nine years old then. That was a long time ago. Like David, I had a youthful zeal. I had a confidence and determination that’s seen in the eyes of all those whose vision hasn’t been permanently stained by death, sickness, disappointment… rejection…life.  Also like David, I’ve lived many days beyond my first taste of those life experiences, and I’ve got the issues to prove it. Where I once very boldly slew giants who threatened my life/destiny, or the life/destiny of someone I loved, I found myself hiding in caves… losing all hope  … paralyzed by fear. I never stopped writing. The words always seemed to run from my heart through my pen like water. But over the years I kept more and more of what I wrote to myself. My fear of rejection went beyond the scope of the words on a page. They were never just words. The words were part of me and they revealed me to anyone who happened to pick up that paper and read what was on it. When the ink stopped flowing and I read what was on the page, all of a sudden my concern about the thoughts and opinions of others became larger than life to me. I’m sure the voice of fear has whispered a time or two, or ten, in your ear… “What if…what if they…maybe I had better…yeah, that’s what I’ll do… no one will like it anyway…I’ll just keep it to myself…no one needs to know…this is between me and God…”

Well, needless to say, I had been consciously working on this for the last few years. Diligently! The giant slayer in me made a strong comeback and I thought the end of this story had been written in my blood for the last time. Within the last year as I continued to wage war on my Goliath of fear, my passion for writing multiplied exponentially, and the gift of artistic creativity was revived and became even stronger. Instead of producing two to three pieces a month, I was now driven by a need to produce something daily. As I recommitted to regular journaling, I strengthened the habit of writing. For me, this has come to represent becoming proactive in the pursuit of the life-destiny that God has for me. [There was a healing that was taking place in my heart during this time that I will share in greater detail at a later date.]

Through all of this writing that was going on, and the many expressions of artistic creativity, my confidence in the gifts that God had given me began to return. I began to view fear as the uncircumcised Philistine who had come to challenge the army of the Living God. And I felt like it was time to get my bag of rocks and my slingshot out of the cave where they had been buried for 26 years. The fight was on! I not only began to spend hours each day fine tuning my skill, but I also began to share some of my writings with trusted friends. (Can we say safe?) Each time I would share something, the risk of rejection was greater because the exposure of my heart was more apparent. But I was safe. I was regularly encouraged, and I managed to amass a nice little group of personal cheerleaders (can I get an ’Amen’ from the cheering section?). Goliath still hadn’t reared his head yet, but if and when he did, I was ready for him… wasn’t I???

Be sure to check back for PART 2 tomorrow 😀

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