A cancer survivor friend recently shared a significant epiphany with me. Since her successful cancer treatment and in her post-cancer life, she has been meticulous in avoiding those things that might cause her cancer to return. A common and practical thing, her highly-tuned awareness of cancer prevention led her to a sudden realization one day. She was no longer living for life, she was living for cancer.
You see, every day she made a multitude of decisions based on that fear. I can do this, I can’t do that, I have to avoid this, I must eat that, I can’t eat this, I will never drink that, I can’t go in the sun…all day long, every day, cancer and the fear of it ruled her until she realized that by doing so, she was making cancer a part of her daily life…and she is cancer-free.
Fear can do that to you.
Fear is a strong and powerful emotion that can overtake and overrule every moment. It can prevent you from letting each moment just live out its life on its own. When fear rules, joy flees. Fear is a force of nature that can cause all other sources of nature’s divine pleasures to fade into the background.
Mind you, fear is not a sign of weakness. Fear is a part of God’s design to keep us safe and tell us when to flee. When a toothsome bear is chasing you in the woods, run! But it is not part of his design for you to live your life being ruled by fear. Instead, we are invited to seek God (also a force of nature…in fact, he is THE force of nature) and choose a life of love over a fearful life:
1 John 4 (The Message)
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
Perfect (“well-formed”) love casts out fear. And so a life ruled by fear is simply one not yet fully formed in love. That’s the good news! We are all a work in progress, and we can choose to become more “fully formed” in perfect love each day.
And what is perfect love? God is perfect love. So when fear creeps into a moment, the way to cast it out is this:
1. Spend time every day growing closer to God, your perfect love. Perfect love banishes fear. The closer you stay to him, the deeper and more fully formed your faith will become, and your resolve for living a life worthy of LIFE will be stronger, and more fear-resistant.
2. Jesus came “that you might have LIFE, and have it abundantly.” Make choices every day based on life-abundant, not fear of what may (or may not) happen.
3. Talk back to your fear by saying this:
“God is my refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
I WILL NOT FEAR.” (Psalm 46)
Take that, fear!
So you go now, and live a life worth living for.
Flying Fearless by Michelle Robertson