One of the most often repeated commands in the Bible is: "Do not be afraid."
Do not be afraid. Do not fear.
And like all biblical commands, there is the obvious negative, but there is the assumed positive: "Have faith. Have trust." If only life were as simple as inverse statements.
I have fear, great fear. I am moving my precious young family half way around the world to a developing African country. There is a bit of fear involved (understatement of the year). At one point last Spring, almost exactly a year ago from now, I had so much fear, I simply stopped filling out the application to teach at Haven of Peace.
I mean, God couldn't (wouldn't) fill out the form for me; I was in control of that, not Him. He couldn't make me do it. So like a kindergartner on his first day of school, staring up at the gapping hole on the monstrous school bus for the first time, afraid to get on, I dug in my heels and refused to move. I was afraid. I had fear.
Most of my fear is attributed to the classic "fear of the unknown" and people are usually understanding and sympathetic to this sort of fear. It's easily rationalized and justified. It's kind of an okay fear to have. It's the fear that causes one to ask all sorts of questions, to gather information, to analyze, and to seek out advice from others. But part of my fear is "fear due to an over-active imagination." My fear of moving to Africa is no different that my son's fear of creatures living under his bed or in his closet. Some call this "fear of the boogeyman" and this is silly fear. It's silly because it is irrational and unsubstantiated by knowledge or experience. We know full well there is nothing under the bed...buuuut, what was that sound?!
The other side of fear is control. I like to be in control and fear losing control, to have circumstances occur that are out of my direction and ability to manage. Chaos. That is a frightening prospect to a control-freak: trusting someone else to be in control of you and your circumstances.
But that is the positive, the assumed part of the continual command: "Do not be afraid. Have trust." Fear is easy; it comes naturally. Trust is difficult; there's much more at stake. Fear is comforting; trust is uncomfortable. But true trust, real faith that does provide comfort and peace only makes sense if it is in some thing or some one greater than ourselves. Everyone everywhere puts their trust, their comfort in some one or some thing that is greater than themselves: the market economy, gravity, parents, employers, or even themselves, thinking they are greater than their circumstances. But all of those finite objects are prone to crack and crumble under the weight of our expectations.
Moving to Africa, asking people for money and support, taking young children to a place that seems less safe than here - it doesn't make sense and it is fearful if there is no one greater than us. But God has called us to do this and has equipped us and prepared us for this. And there is comfort and peace in trusting Him with all of these details, trusting him with our safety, with our lives and our ministry because without Him we are left to ourselves and our vain idols.
I am learning to trust, to believe, to ask for, receive, and practice faith. It's wildly refreshing and doesn't make sense all the time. And that's an okay place to be sometimes.