Every neighborhood has ‘that house’. You know the one. The dwellers seem to be a bit strange and the property is unkempt. There may be obvious maintenance needs with city citations piling up inside their ‘overstuffed with junk-mail’ mailbox. The rest of the neighbors talk and shake their heads and the kids make up ghost stories on Halloween about dead bodies in the basement.
I lived by such a house in North Dakota. This one was tenant-less. Shutters hung tilted and one could get lost in the weeds and shrubs that ran wild like a bad hair day. In my mind, I see bats flying in and out of the windows night and day, although that most likely wasn’t the case.
My neighborhood friends and I ignored the house — frankly, because there was so much more to do in the park across from my home. But on the occasions when we would walk down the street toward the local Dolly Madison bakery, we would walk on the opposite side of the street from the house. None of us mentioned why, even though — inside — we knew.
Kid fear is different from adult fear. Kid fear makes up monsters and beings and little gremlins that chase you down a dark street.
Adult fear is much worse. It drives us, stops us, defeats us and demolishes us. It weeds its way into the emotional framework of our dreams and tells us that we are not good enough, strong enough or worthy enough. It dusts off the file of past failures and asks us to consider the ‘what ifs’ of life. What if something horrible will happen? What if I get hurt? What if I try that relationship again and it fails? What if…?
Life is full of these. You may be feeling the ‘what if fear’ right now. And it is at the intersection of your fear and longing for fullness that Jesus steps in.
Throughout the Bible and specifically in the Gospels, Jesus meets you in the ‘what if fear’. From the moment of his birth, humanity joined angels in declaring that fear is squelched by hope and doubt is relieved by love. John 14 recalls Jesus meeting you in your trial and trouble and struggle as he tells you “In this world, you’re going to bounce along the bottom and hit the walls of hardship and fear. Yet I have overcome all of the consequences of your past failures and the guilt of your sin. I have entered into your story with a forever love and presence that gives you, shows you and tells you that it’s going to be okay” (my paraphrase).
It is, you know. Your ‘what if fear’ will be okay. You are loved. You are forgiven and there is no fear in Jesus.
(study Romans 8:35-39)