Fear keeps us safe. The idea of driving round the Halesworth bypass at 60 mph should so fill us with fear that we don’t try it. Fear, like so many things, has its place – it tells us that we want to be safe. What it doesn’t do is tell us where to find that safety.
Fear shows itself in many forms. For some it is a ‘floating anxiety’ that will attach to any current threatening situation and blow it out of all proportion; for others it is an underlying fear that expresses itself in any number of phobias. At least one in ten of our population experience panic attacks that can be frightening and disorientating. Many people experience anxiety like a ‘background noise’ – you forget it is there until you try to be quiet.
Fear is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. It would lead us to freedom if it knew where to find it. When it masters us it disturbs our sleep and spoils our days; it robs us of our joy and energy. It is baggage on the journey of life that we could well do without.
How can we be free from such fear? Research has shown that a sense of belonging can be given to us in our first year of life. This is largely communicated through a mother’s touch. How does this work? What contribution do we make to society in our first year? None. How many moral choices do we make? None. In fact, we are pretty useless – we just cry, feed and sleep - and yet we are still loved. And that is the point. We are not loved for what we do – but just for being here. That is how God loves us. Not on the basis of how good we are or how well we perform but because that is who he is and that is how he feels about us. That is love. Responding to that love makes us safe.
Have you ever felt truly free? Not the temporary elation of adrenalin-producing excitement but the deep-down glorious freedom that comes from feeling totally secure? Where will I find that safety? Speaking of God’s love, the Bible tells us that ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18). When we respond to that perfect love we find our true home in his heart – where there is no fear.