A childhood memory...
The basement of our house was a dark and forbidding place. I hated going down in there where the walls were rough, crumbling dirt. A few old shelves stood along the back wall where canned goods, both metal cans and glass canning jars of home-canned foods, were stored. The furnace was in the middle of the basement and a single bare light bulb hung from the low ceiling-the only light for the basement. The placement of the furnace blocked the light of that dim bulb from reaching many areas of the room and the whole basement was dim and dark with many ominous corners.
The steps descending into that abyss were simple boards that created a rough set of open stairs with a small space behind the steps where the wall could be faintly seen and I always feared what my imagination thought lived back there. In one of the darkest parts of the basement was the potato bin. Dad bought potatoes by the bushel and they were stored in the potato bin, which was only a few boards formed into a squarish open box on the floor next to the wall.
As a girl, I dreaded being told to go to the basement to get a few canned goods. I timidly stepped down each step, my eyes fearfully watching for dangers... the shadows, the noise of the furnace when it started suddenly, the cobweb I walked into or was able to avoid, the spider running into the shadows and more. I was seriously "spooked" and only the obedience drilled into me kept me from running up those stairs without the job done. I would quickly grab what I had been sent to get, glad for the dim light that shone on the shelves allowing me to see what was needed.
I had disciplined myself to walk deliberately back through the darkness to the stairs and ascend calmly up, trying to ignore the rising panic I felt inside. I usually made it up two or three steps before the panic took over and I ran as fast as I could up the remaining steps, slamming the door behind me at the top, breathing hard, relieved to be back in the main part of the house. Then I would compose my face, pretend I was fine and go to continue my work, hoping no one saw my fear, although I remained very "jumpy".
Even worse than getting canned goods, though, was going down to get potatoes as it was too dark to see and I had to reach and grab as many as I needed, doing so in the dark, then carry them in my arms up the stairs. One time I grabbed a few potatoes only to feel the numerous tiny legs of a centipede scurrying rapidly up my arm. Terrified and dropping the potatoes, I immediately gave in to the panic and ran up the stairs, shudders and shivering shaking my frame, sure I could never do the job again. However, since I hadn't gotten the potatoes, I was sent back down to do it and obediently accomplished that task and learned not to complain of being scared, but the fear remained deep inside and grew.
As a girl, I had many reasons to fear. We all have reasons to be afraid even as adults, especially considering the condition of our world. Saying, "Fear not", "don't be afraid", "be a big girl" , "your fear is silly", or other such comments won't take the fear away. Neither will pretending we are not afraid. Even being able to foist fearful tasks off on other people will not take away the fear. What should we do? Are we condemned to live in fear the rest of our lives? We may have been conditioned to just hide our fear, but God has a plan to help us.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
Yes, it starts out, "Fear thou not..." but that phrase is not alone as it also says:
for I am with thee,
for I am thy God,
I will strengthen thee,
I will help thee,
I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
We will be faced with fear. This verse tells us that God is bigger than our fear and that He will be with us and strengthen us. It says to "fear thou not", BUT it also tells us some of the ways He will help us. We turn to God and He is our help. God doesn't just tell us not to be afraid without telling us how we can do that and we shouldn't do that to others, either. We need to direct people, especially our children, to the One who knows our fears and can do something about them. Words of "Fear Not" or "Don't be afraid" are empty without something behind them. What a blessing that God tells us not to fear AND tells us He is fully able to take care of us.
God has taught me much about trusting Him and I have learned practical ways to deal with fear. No, it doesn't mean we will never be fearful. Fear will attack, but God shows us how to deal with it. In future posts, I will be sharing some of what He has taught me. I hope you will join me. Feel free to share your comments about fear and how God is helping you or what you need to overcome.
~ Blessings, Katherine J Masters
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