~Psalm 27.1 (NRSV)
Fear is a powerful motivator in so much of my life, more than I am often willing admit to myself. I am afraid of letting people down: my family, my parishioners, my friends. I am afraid of letting God down (and I wish this one came before the first one, but, again, I am trying to be honest with myself). I am afraid of what people will think or how they will receive me. I am also afraid of spiders, the dark, and heights (though I fly regularly and love roller-coasters—I also get up on a ladder now and then, but I don’t like it and am jealous of those who climb up like it’s no big deal).
But, I am inspired by Psalm 27 with the author’s ardent faith in God as well as what I hear as fear and trembling. I read in the author’s question, “whom shall I fear” both a belief in God’s strength but also a desire to gird one’s own faith in the face of danger. I remember as a child when I stayed too late at a friend’s house (I was supposed to be home before the street lights came on). I remember walking home under the darkening sky and the pale yellow light of the street lamps rehearsing what I was going to say, and at least once or twice asking God to help me out. Eventually I would ask myself, “What am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen?” These questions were both a realization that at worst I would be grounded, but also an attempt to calm my very real fears that I had disappointed my parents once again.
Fear is a powerful emotion, indeed. It has motivated hate and violence against entire populations. It has driven people to murder. It can paralyze us in our tracks and hold us back from experiencing grace and reconciliation. What are you afraid of? Trust that God is near, and trust in God’s goodness and mercy revealed in and through Jesus the Christ.
Continued blessings on us all in this Lenten journey!