The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 16, 2009

Fear #2

see September 25, 2008 (Fear #1)
Flu pandemics, global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, cancer, heart disease, economic downturn, unemployment, institutional collapse, terrorism, crime, violence, family breakdown – sometimes it is scary to look out the front door.

Henny-Pennies abound. There is no shortage of doomsday prognosticators determined that “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.” There always seems to be good cause for fear.

But the sky has always been falling. I cannot think of a time in my life when someone has not pointed a crooked finger at the dark clouds threatening on the horizon and predicted impending doom. If the solution to fear is to organize the circumstances of life to run smoothly, there is little hope we will ever find peace.

Most fear does not emerge from difficult circumstances. Fear is a trick of the mind. It is entirely possible to lie secure in bed, healthy, well fed, with money in the bank, food in the fridge, and a loving family sleeping quietly in the house, and yet find your heart racing in a panic of terror at some imagined threat lurking at the edge of your mind.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we let fear stalk our nights and threaten our days?

Fear is an addiction. Like all addictions, fear is an antidote to boredom and emptiness. Fear creates a powerful adrenalin rush of intensity. Fear is what we do when we are unwilling to sit quietly and peacefully with our lives as they are.

The writer of I John says, “perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) The antidote to fear is love.

The problem with fear is that fear produces fear. Actions that spring from fear seldom produce the freedom that is the essential ground for the emergence of love. Fear creates a small world in which we erect walls and build barriers to keep ourselves safe. The more we entertain fear, the smaller our world becomes; the less we are able to open to the expansiveness of love.

The problem with love is that, in spite of what Hollywood would have us believe, love does not come with world-class fire works choreographed to a dolby surround sound symphony.

Love comes softly; the word Jesus used is “secret.” “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) Love is gentle, calm and quiet. It is not given to the splash and dazzle we find so compelling. If we are to let go of fear and find love, we must accept the dull routines of daily commitment. We must listen deeply to our lives as they come to us, opening to the unexpected and sitting lightly to our plans and strategies.

The way forward may not be clear. The obstacles may seem insurmountable. Fear sets in creating panic and paralysis. Love says, “Trust and open; there is a greater reality at work in your life than all the possible futures of which you feel so afraid.”

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