When we lived in Texas, our gas grill was on the patio, just outside the open space of kitchen, dining, and family rooms. One early evening, as our girls and many neighbor children watched Sesame Street on TV, I started the grill to cook dinner. I went inside to get the meat from the refrigerator. When I stepped back out I discovered yellow and orange flames rising from the gas tank under the grill up into it.
Have you ever experienced fear to the point that you made a regretful decision?
In Chapter 25, Matthew recounts Jesus’ parable about the master who was going away for an extended time and entrusted money, known as talents in that day, to his servants. He gave a different amount to each of three people. When he returned, he learned that two of them had wisely doubled their share. To them he praised, Well done, good and faithful servant. The third had been given the least amount; instead of acting wisely, he blurted out to the master, Out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back. The master’s response was violent.
When we listen to the voice of fear in our hearts or minds, we invariably make foolish choices. Often, we find ourselves in a worse position. Fear causes us to stumble, to ignore wisdom, or to freeze in our tracks, which can have terrible consequences, even deadly. When we believe the lies of fear, we allow it to overpower us and that which we dread comes upon us, as the Old Testament Job lamented.
In John’s first letter, chapter 4, verse 18, we read, There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear. And Paul, in his letter to the Romans, chapter 10, reminds us, For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
When our heart beats wildly or our palms sweat, when our head pounds with anxiety or our breath is short, we can make a powerful response. First, don’t ignore fear. It will continue to rear its ugly head. Instead, acknowledge the presence of fear. But, then, proclaim the Truth: I am created in the image and likeness of God, who is Love. Therefore, in the name of Jesus, and by the presence of God within, I say to you, ‘fear, be gone. You have no place in me.’ Close your eyes, envision Light, breathe slowly and deeply. Then open your eyes and allow wisdom to make the next decision.
Back to my Texas experience: My thoughts were too rapid to time: On the other side of this door is a house full of children. What if an explosion occurs? There is only one way: I must turn off the gas. The valve was engulfed in flames. For a split moment, I wanted to stand in place and scream wildly for help. But then, I began to repeat the name of Jesus – over and over – and did what I knew had to be done. I reached my hand through the flames, cranked off the valve and watched the flames instantly dwindle to nothing. Only flames burning the rubber wheel continued to lap the air. As my voice still whispered the name of Jesus, I ran inside, grabbed a pitcher of water, and quickly ran back out to douse the wheel. All flames were gone. I began to breathe. And give thanks. My hand was totally unscathed. I didn’t take time to proclaim in whose image I am created but belief was strong and his perfect love allowed me to cast out fear. And I did call upon the name of the Lord as I acted in faith. If I had given into the fear that pounded my heart and threatened me with hysteria….Well, I’ve never wanted to imagine the repercussions of such paralyzed inaction.
When have you encountered fear and overcome it with the proclamation of the Love of God as you called upon His name?