Edited. Originally published 3/27/11.
Have you ever noticed that it's easier to drive on a road that has medians as opposed to the straight forward roads that are divided only by two yellow lines?
When there is no median, people tend to swerve a bit to the right as oncoming traffic comes towards them. When there is no oncoming traffic, it's a breeze to just focus on the guidelines of your lane, but as soon as those cars start coming in the opposite direction, our eyes want to focus on the cars, not on the road.
We seem to instinctively look at the danger although it's safest to keep our eyes straight ahead, right in-between the two lines that give our lane definition.
You'd be a fool not to be aware of oncoming traffic. If you notice in your peripheral vision that a car is leaving his lane and coming right at you, it would be stupid to ignore it. However, you could fail to see the other cars around you, or the traffic light up ahead, if you only focus on all that traffic zooming by.
Fear does that. The fear may have a high probability of being realized, but to drop everything to focus on that fear will leave you more vulnerable to other mishaps and lost opportunities.
There is necessary, healthy fear: Fear of a speeding ticket, so you stay within the speed limit. Fear of the maniac in the SUV, so you pull over to the side and let him pass. Fear of running out of gas, so you keep the tank full. But this fear doesn't cripple us, it helps us—just as true fear of God spurs us on in the right direction. The cowering, false fear of God is just a self-centered focus on our weakness rather than on His majesty.
When God says "Fear not," He means it, and it is aimed directly at foolish fear. Yet it is an impossible command. It's in our very nature to succumb to fear, to follow the impulses that tell us to fight or flee, to swerve, to slam on brakes—whether or not the danger is real or imagined. We have trouble discerning when to "fear not" and when it's wisdom to be afraid. God asks us to do this impossible task of not fearing all the time, every day. So how do we do it?
We die to ourselves and pay attention . . . to Him.
Pay attention to what His Word says and how He defines the stuff of life, and don't forget that He is there with you. Pray to Him. Tell Him your fears, your thoughts, and, yes, your thanksgivings! He knows it all, of course, but that's what makes His listening to us all the more divinely, sweetly loving.
He is humble with us, just as we are humble with our children when we listen to them tell us about things we already know. We listen because they need to tell us, and we love them. He listens to us because we need to talk to Him, and He loves us.
When we focus on His love, holiness, and grace, the fears of this earth truly pass away. When we pay attention to Him, anything is possible.
©2011-2016 Emily Woodham