Fear, My Friend
Aug 05, 2008 by Nancy Buschart | 0 Comments
This is the first of a three-part series of posts.
Frightened, insecure, facing unspoken and unknown challenges. Imagination going wild. Excitement, glitz and glam. Fish out of water. Can't do it on my own!
This was the context of my faith conversion. This tension was an opportunity brimming with eternal significance. A life or death moment. A ‘yes' response to this escalating internal turmoil is a celestial moment when the heaven's rejoice as the grace of God transforms human tension into eternal life.
So, what happened? A dramatic moment of repentance expressed and redemption received? No, nothing so theologically astute. I cut a deal with God. I told the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe that I would give Him my life if He would companion me in my fear. And, He did.
I have always felt a bit embarrassed about this. No Four Spiritual Laws followed by a prayer dethroning self and coronating Christ in my heart. Who do I think I am? Who do I think God is?
I feel better about this save-my-skin, fox-hole bargaining, though, when I read history.
Martin Luther's conversion story is very different from mine, and also, in some significant ways, quite similar. Martin was bright, very bright. He began his study of law at age thirteen and finished both bachelor's and master's degrees in record time. (A bit slower, it took me ten years to finish my M.A.) One day in 1505, young Luther was walking on the road to Erfurt, Germany. As a violent thunderstorm engulfed the sky, a streak of lightening terrified Martin when it struck the ground nearby. "Help me, St. Anne!" Luther screamed. "I will become a monk!"
God used Luther's up-close experience of the awesome power of nature to bring young Martin into monastic life. Monk Martin Luther's study of the Word subsequently led to the Protestant Reformation.
Several centuries later, at some point during World War II, someone said, "There are no atheists in foxholes." A foxhole was used as a place of attack and retreat during battle. It was a hole big enough for the body and the weapon of a soldier. Safe, sort of. Vulnerable, completely. Courageous, remarkable. Afraid, unimaginable. Supposedly, in this context even those who claimed to be atheists uttered "foxhole prayers." It is easy to imagine the content of these prayers. "Save me, O God." "Get me out of this and I'll..."
I have heard it said that a Christian shouldn't pray "foxhole prayers." One who knows what to do should be embarrassed when faced with the consequence of disobedience. That embarrassment says, "Shame on me. I deserve this."
‘Blessed are those who know they need God.' This paraphrase from the Beatitudes' "poor in spirit" [Matthew 5:6] is at the core of growth in Christlikeness. No one knows more keenly his or her need for God than one who is faced with real, life-altering fear. Regardless of whether the fear comes from disobedience, from circumstances, or from a lightening bolt, fear can bring us to the Father. Fear that compels us into the arms of the Sustainer of the Universe and the Lover of our Souls is good. It is the mercy of God inviting us out of ourselves and into life-sustaining relationship. It is the gracious wooing of One who loves us as we are - weak and afraid.
So, here are some thoughts for those who are afraid and for those who walk with others in their fear.
Don't despise small beginnings or unorthodox pathways. God knows the sincerity of the heart from which the promise has emerged. Cutting a deal with God may not be irreverent; it may be authentic surrender.
Don't be a fixer or a tension reliever. Shielding or enabling others to withstand the force of fear may also deflect the merciful gaze of the God who loves others even more than you.
- Do companion others in their frightful journey. Remain keenly attuned to the Living Word and to the terror of your friend. You may be a conduit of mercy. Abide in the Vine while you abide with others.
The next time fear grips you, let it lead you to the Savior.
The Three Questions for today-
Who is God?
Kind and gracious Companion in fearful times, Author of peace that passes understanding
Who am I?
How am I living?
"Lord, help me surrender my fears and insecurities to you."
©2008 Vine, Vision & Voice
Nancy R. Buschart
 "Christian History & Biography: 131 Christians Everyone Should Know" http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/special/131christians/luther.html, www.ChristianityToday.com; Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today International