Saturday, January 05, 2013

Day 5: Greatest Fear

For those of you just joining us, we are in day 5 of a "Blog a Day in January" project which I somewhat impulsively committed myself to. I normally wouldn't blog about my "greatest fear" unless specifically asked to do so. Why not? First, I think my fears are mostly foolish and stupid. As I become more like Jesus, I will have fewer fears, and ultimately no fears at all (except for "the fear of God," which I don't really think counts for the purpose of this blog ... and that's a blog for another day!).

One of the most oft-repeated commands of Scripture is "fear not." That implies that, contrary to popular belief, we have the ability to refrain from fear ... or at least to get our fears under control. So, the less time I spend fearing, the more I trust in Jesus, the closer I am to obeying His command, experiencing the resulting blessing.

Easier said than done, I know! But I look at the long progression of my life and what I see, for the most part, is a diminishment of fear. I was a very fearful child. In my conversion to Christ and by an effort of will to embrace life as a joyful adventure, I made the decision near the end of my high school years to reject fear. I can honestly say my personality significantly changed at that point. I take joy over fear any day ... and I know that the realization that we can choose joy and reject fear can have an enormous impact on our lives.

But, do I still fear occasionally? Yes. And so I spent some this morning, for the sake of this blog post, analyzing what it is I fear, and why.

I think I am a fairly logical person, and the main things I fear are the things which seem to have the greatest likelihood of occurring to me personally. For instance, I spend no time fearing that I will lose my wife's love, because I know her well and that therefore seems like the remotest of possibilities. I spend very little time fearing job or financial failure, because I feel very secure professionally.

I also spend less time fearing things that I prepare well for. While there is a lot of interpersonal violence (robberies, muggings and the like) in our society, I don't spend much time fearing it because I feel that I have prepared for it fairly well. (I won't get more specific than that ... I'll let you use your imagination. Suffice it to say that someone attempting to victimize me or my family would probably find me better prepared than they expected.)

I guess what I do fear most are things that are statistically possible, difficult to deal with, and difficult to prepare for. Physical (and mental) illness is probably the biggest category here. Members of my immediate family have been afflicted by diabetes, cancer, and dementia (Alzheimer's). I have type 2 diabetes; my grandmother died of this disease, and three of my four siblings also have it. But I don't really fear diabetes because there is a lot you can do to mitigate its effects, and I am working hard at doing those things.

Cancer is a slightly different story. My mom died of cancer, and my grandmom had it when she died of Alzheimer's. I take comfort in how treatable many forms of cancer are, but am chilled by its prevalence among my friends and loved ones.

That leaves dementia/Alzheimer's. And this is probably the thing I fear the most. Both my grandma and my dad died of it, and at least one aunt is very seriously afflicted by it. I watched my dad's slow downward spiral for a decade, and while I think there are more painful diseases, there are none I can think of that present no hope of recovery, and are as difficult on your loved ones as Alzheimer's is.

And I think that's the crux of it. It's bad enough to fear losing your mind (which for each of us, I think, is our nearest and dearest possession, so to speak), but to lose it in such a manner that you forget your loved ones and your commitments to them would be more than I could (rationally) bear. Even now it is difficult to remember my dad as he was healthy, since he was unwell for so long, and it had such an impact on his personality.

Did it make me love him any less? No, certainly not. In fact it gave me even better opportunities to express love for him. And I don't fear my own family would love me less or reject me if I were similarly afflicted. But, my deepest desire is to be a blessing to them, and not a burden.

So in my deepest, darkest moments of self-doubt, these are the things I fear. And I have to say those moments are few and far between. In my more rational moments, the majority of which dictate the progress and direction of my life, I know that I am loved by the Lord and held in His hands. I know that He will never leave me, nor forsake me. Come what may, my hope and my delight is in Him, and I pray that this will only intensify as the years go by and whatever is inevitable comes my way. As Matt Redman's precious song says:

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come;
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore!

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