I'm very excited again this week to join a talented group of women bloggers in an online, unedited flash mob free write. This week, the word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung (whose wonderful blog can be found at katemotaung.com) is "turn". My timer is set for 5 minutes; ready, set,
Fear. Talk about a word that has a bad reputation. And I think that's a mistake.
Yes, fear can be a bad thing. But let's be totally honest -- *any* thing, done excessively or inappropriately -- is bad. Not to overstate the obvious, but even eating -- an act that is absolutely required for the sustaining of life -- can be problematic. Overeating, poor nutrition, not eating at all . . . You get my point, I'm sure.
It's the same way with fear. Google the word "fear", and you'll no doubt find thousands of hits to sites expounding on how to overcome fear, how fear inhibits us from realizing our dreams, etc.
My grandfather often said, "A moderate does of healthy fear is a good thing", and I agree, but try as I might, I can't find a single article or cute little image that praises fear.
So today, I'm speaking up for "fear"; in the time I have left, I'll do my part to convince you that fear shouldn't be . . . well, feared.
It was, when I was a small child, my fear of those cars zooming down the street that had me holding tight to my grandmother's hand on our weekly Saturday walk from her apartment down my town's busy Broadway to the downtown shopping and lunch at the Woolworth's counter. That fear overrode my impatience when we stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the light to change at each intersection.
It was fear of a big fat red "F" on a paper, my teachers' reactions, and, eventually, not getting into college and becoming a teacher, that motivated me to do my best in school. My parents didn't pay my sister and I for good grades; they felt it was simply our job to do our best, stated the natural consequences of not doing so, and let us make the choice *and* live with the consequences.
It was fear of my parents, the risk of being caught and arrested, and of being "out of control" that overpowered my typical college-age desire to try new things and to "live a little" and stopped me from ever -- not one single time -- ingesting any kind of recreational drug.
It was fear disappointing my parents, getting pregnant, being thought of as "easy", and a myriad of other things that helped me resist more than one boyfriend's pressure to have sex before marriage.
It is fear of ill health and premature death that causes me to eat a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, and stay away from risky behaviors.
The list could go on and on.
Most importantly, though, I fear the Lord. Yes, many commentaries and "ministers" will say that in this case "fear" does not mean what it means today. It means, they explain, to revere and respect God and to hold him in awe.
But dig a little deeper. The word "fear" appears in the Bible 300+ times, and while some of those passages say things like "Perfect love casts out fear", quite a number of them are in the context of someone (such as the Pharaoh's servants upon finding baby Moses) not doing something out of fear of displeasing God.
In the New Testament, Jesus says, " Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
My understanding, from reading carefully, reading the context in which the word "fear" is used, and reading the thoughts of highly-respected Biblical scholars, rock-solid Christian men and women, is that we should worry less about the natural consequences of our actions and far more about God's. The world's "natural consequences" pale in comparison to God's power, to the consequences God can (and has -- remember the Great Flood? the original Passover?) dole out.
My worry of my parent's reactions, the response of my teachers and the police was misplaced. Instead, I should only fear God's reaction to my thoughts and actions.
Grandpa was right.
A moderate dose == the amount that motivates one to do the morally-correct thing (without crippling a person to no action at all)
Healthy == of the right Person
That's a good thing.