Giving Up Fear For Good - Matthew 8:23-27; 10:28-31 Wednesday Night Reflection

For many years I let it control my life.  It kept me from fully participating in some activities, or if I did, my heart would be racing faster than a stock car running at Talladega.  One time it left me stranded on a roof.  The drains in our house were not quite draining the way they were supposed to.  Plumbers in Northampton County, at least the part of Northampton County we found ourselves living, were far and few in between.  In fact there was only one plumber that anyone in the western half of the county, where I lived, called.  He had a waiting list a mile long of calls he needed to respond to, and he prioritized, not by the date you called, but by critical nature of your plumbing problem…and slow drains did not rank way up on the waiting list.  If I remember correctly, it was about a six week wait for him to respond to the call.  One time before, in a previous parsonage where the same problem occurred, the plumber had said that the issue was a buildup of stuff in the vent and it just needed flushing out, they ran a water hose up, turned on the water, and let it flush out the drains.  I decided one day that if that was all the problem was and all that had to be done, I wasn’t going to wait for the plumber, I was going to handle it—despite my fear of heights.  I hooked up the water hose, set the ladder against the side of the house, and slowly and carefully climbed the ladder—determined to do this and determined to impress Anita when she came home that I had actually done it.  I got up there thinking about all the folks I had seen climbing a ladder to the roof, hopping up there and walking around.  I got up there and…and…well I never got off my arms and knees as I drug the hose across the roof, with my torso never being more than an inch off the roof either.  I did succeed in flushing out the vent, and slowly worked my way back to the ladder.  I turned around to back down the ladder, and my foot wouldn’t connect.  I tried again, still no success.  Can any of you guess where Anita found me frozen when she and the kids finally came home some time later?
How often do we let fear freeze us in place or cause us an overabundance of trouble or worry or cause us to miss out on what others seem to enjoy?  My fear of heights has kept me from enjoying everything from climbing trees as a kid to mountain trips.  I know others whose fear of the water keeps them from enjoying the beach, the lake, or even a swim in the pool.  Maybe a fear of speaking in public has kept us from sharing some good news in a crowd or the Good News with someone we do not know.  Maybe a fear of needles, a fear of dentists, or even a fear of closed spaces keep us from getting medical treatments we need.  Maybe it is not fear of any specific thing that causes us to freeze in place or avoid certain situations, maybe it is a generalized fear of uncertainty—maybe we’re those “worst case scenario” kind of folks, we worry about what might happen.   We are don’t travel because the bus might crash, the boat might sink, or terrorists might take over the plane.  We hesitate to visit someone who is sick or in the hospital because we might catch what they have.  We hold back on our giving because we might have an unexpected expense come up.  We aren’t willing to go on mission trip – whether it be downtown or overseas, because we could be hurt by the people we are trying to help.
However, my brothers and sisters, living in fear needs to be one of those things that we nail to the cross and give up, not just for forty days, but for good.  The problem with fear is that it is sin.  It is failing to trust God.  We need to learn how to live fearlessly.
Remember this scene with Jesus and those closest to him:
“And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he [Jesus] was [at peace and] asleep.  And [terrified] they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”  and he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed saying, “what sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him.”
Later, Jesus says to those around him and to us:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  And even the hairs on your head are all counted.  So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
But it is not just in the words of Jesus, as if we really needed anything else, but through the entirety of God’s Word.
Consider the words of God through the prophet Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
Or the words of Paul: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Or the words of God through the Revelation to John: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” In other words, God is saying, “I am your beginning and your end, nothing else will have the final word in your life, that belongs to Me and Me alone.”
What does all of this mean?  It means that God’s got our back.  It means that there is nothing that can truly and ultimately bring us to a complete end.  It means that God holds our future, both our earthly future and our eternal future.  It means that we do not have to live in fear because we are trusting that God has us, loves us, cares for us, and will always be with us.  This Lent, nail fear to the cross and leave it there.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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