We are all bred to worship. It is hardwired into our systems as human beings. There is no getting around the fact that our lives, for better or for worse, are always being driven by something, something from which we draw our hope from, our happiness, our meaning. For some its success, generally monetary; being able to make money, pay rent, buy a dog, maybe even new car. For some its romantic love, its finding your joy in that someone’s smile every day, laughing with them, planning your day around their person. For others its image: me. Your day isn’t complete without a compliment from someone you know, without a positive reaction to one of your ideas or jokes, without a good two hour beach bod prepping session. We are all religious in a sense, its just a matter of who or what we make our God.
Now with this being said, I find that our lives are also dictated by another power, an idea that takes on its own identity. Fear. Fear of not succeeding, of not finding that certain someone, fear of not looking, seeming, being good enough. With such a back and forth battle between what we are pursuing and what we are avoiding it is easy to get lost in a hamster wheel of ideas. Constantly thinking of nothing other than pursuance and avoidance leaves very little room for peace, and plenty of room for fear. And when fear takes root in our lives, fear can become our God too.
I feel that whenever you fear something, you give it power over you. A disproportionate amount of power, a power and influence greater than any thing here on earth is supposed to have over you. I don’t think we were meant to live crippled, I believe we were meant to live free from fear. I believe God created us with a desire for us to be free, and be free for freedom’s sake. Before his desire for unity with us he places his desire for US. To be us, to be free, to choose, to experience. To feel and react. He did equip us for this. He didn’t just throw us into the fray saying, “Good luck! Ha see you at the finish line, if you make it!” He gave us resilient minds. He gave us hands, capable of action. He gave us a community of friends and resources. He gave us strength in our backbone, knowing we would fall. But most of all he gave us open, unrestricted access to him.
There is an poem entitled, “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson. I want to include some excerpts from that poem below.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
I love this imagery, because I feel that this idea is intimately connected with the fears in our lives and why/how they spring up. We spend our entire lives in pursuit of goals, dreams, relationships, in search of happiness, right? How often do those searches turn into us fleeing from God? Down the nights and the days, the archway of years! Time slips by when we are focused on our little gods we erect in our lives. But God doesn’t sit by the way side, he doesn’t look at our fear of failure as something we deserve, even when that fear comes from us pursuing trivial things in the eyes of God. That’s such a powerful idea! Whether we consciously or unconsciously place something at the center of our lives that isn’t God, he still wants to comfort us! To pursue us! He’ll chase us down the glooms of our chasmed fears, with deliberate and powerful strides, unchanging. And He will always be there whenever you turn.
That actual poem is over 180 lines long, but I want to highlight a part from the end of the poem, just as God, “The Hound of Heaven” catches the author of the poem. Now, this man, the author, tells God:
“But human love needs human meriting”
And this is how the Hound responds, and the poem ends:
How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay, the soiled cloth?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might seek it in My arms.
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!
Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
How much of our fear comes from trying to merit our love we feel here on earth through that next raise, losing those next ten pounds, that next kiss? What if we cant provide? Cant fit in? Cant be accepted? What if we cant love?
I’m not here to preach to you, and I apologize if you have felt like you have been reading a lecture. I am just merely speaking from my experience: I try every day to keep God at the center of my life. My job, my reputation, my health, my image, the loves in my life, all these things revolve around my relationship, and my fear, of God.
Fear of God, that has always been an interesting notion to me. Why or how should we fear such a loving God? Isn’t God supposed to be that dude up there who is always caring for us and loving us? I look at it this way: whatever you fear, whatever you are scared of, has nothing on God. By comparison, every fear we have, every love we have, is so puny to what God is and what he wants to be in our lives. In scripture an example of this is when Jesus says in Luke, “If you come to me and do not hate your father and mother, you cannot follow me.” He doesn’t mean hate, but he means your love of God should be so much larger in comparison to your love of your parents. And same for your fears. Fear here on earth should be trumped by our fear of God. If our strongest bonds of love are supposed to look like hate when compared to our love of God, what are our fears supposed to look like? When a God that is willing to chase us down, to follow us, to pursue us to the depths of our sorrows and worries and horrors only to bring us back to life, if that is the God we fear, what is there to be scared of?
Now I don’t know anything. I honestly often times feel like a little child, self conscious and weak. But I still put these words to paper, because I think that lives can change. We all are scared, we all have fears. We tip toe through our days hoping that someone will address our wounds, we silently cry out all the time. We would give anything just to feel safe! So I just wanted to tell you the story of the Love I’ve found, and of the Truth embedded in all of us long before we were born. Know that wherever you are in you life, in this maze full of suspense and apprehension, God is there with you.