Friday, June 22, 2018

Whenever I'm Afraid

The alternative to living in fear.


When signing copies of the novels in my Wake the Dead trilogy, I include this under my name: Ps. 32:7. It represents a computer code my transhuman protagonist discovers, one which gives him the superpowers he needs to protect himself. But he soon discovers it’s not just a code, but a verse from the Psalms. Only then is his power to serve and defend others unleashed.

Of course, hiding computer code in a transhuman was not God’s plan when He inspired the writers of the Psalms. But it provides an interesting plot twist. My character, Chase Sterling, needs a word from God after the dramatic reboot of his life leaves him in the clutches of hopeless fear. Though at first he doesn’t fully understand it, the verse speaks to him.

You are my hiding place. You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

It speaks to me as well. David wrote this Psalm when he experienced true repentance. He saw the evil inside him and confessed it before God. He accepted forgiveness and rejoiced in God’s mercy. God was his hiding place, the One who protected and delivered him. David wasn’t only set free from guilt and shame, he was established under God’s defense. God protected David from His own righteous wrath. The same cover of God’s mercy applies to all who are redeemed. Fear must have tormented David after his grievous sin. He must have felt he’d never be free of it. But God did indeed set him free.

The Bible has much to offer on the subject of fear—the good kind and the bad. Good fear isn’t necessarily the kind that teaches a child not to touch a flame. That’s healthy fear. It keeps us from walking into traffic. From standing too close to the edge of a cliff. From playing with fire—literally and figuratively. 

But good fear from a Biblical view means fearing God. If it seems counter-intuitive to fear the One offering security, understand the fear of God can be categorized as awe, respect, and reverence. While these responses to God’s character are appropriate, there’s something about the nature of God I find terrifying. Is it a good fear? Yes. Like the healthy fear that keeps me away from fire, I recognize God’s great power. He can do with me as He will—as His wrath demands. But since I’ve come under His protection I no longer fear His wrath. However, as His child I do fear His discipline. Not that I’m paralyzed by the fear of what He’s going to do to me. He’s a loving Father. But a note of warning to the unredeemed—be very afraid.

 But I shall show you whom you should fear; fear Him, who after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I say to you, fear Him!      
Luke 12:5

Whether suffered by the believer or the person giving no thought to God, the bad kind of fear is a stronghold of Satan. In its grip, there appears to be no hope. Sometimes my overactive imagination causes all kinds of fear to override my faith. It’s the same fear that fills the hearts and minds of everybody. We’re not so different in this respect. I worry like any other wife, mother, daughter, or friend. I fear stupid things. Unrealistic things. Real things I can’t control. But then I remember I’m not lost to fear. And God comes running after me, bringing hope and promise.

 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

Many verses addressing fear seem to give a direct command: Fear not. But how can a fearful person just stop being afraid? Somebody had better come up with a better alternative. A simple verse, spoken by Jesus, makes such an offer.

Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36

No, it’s not that easy. It can only happen by the fierce power of the greatly feared, perfectly loving God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear… 
I John 4:18

As my transhuman trilogy continues, Chase struggles to let go of his fear. He discovers another verse from the Psalms inscribed in an odd place. He considers it and then he believes it. It’s not a computer code, just the assurance that a child a God is no longer subject to the bondage of fear, for God has provided a way out.
       
Whenever I’m afraid, I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3