I hate it when the fear comes back.I thought I was over that fear. Or maybe I just thought the cause of that fear was over.
Lately, in the midst of some hopeful signs in a long-ongoing situation, the fear has come back. With force. Irrationally.
Because when I hope, when things look like they are changing for the better, I get afraid to hope. I remember the past, and it was painful, disappointing, filled with despair. What if, once more, the hope is not fulfilled, if the undesirable wins out again?
Last week I participated in a wonderful 12-hour Personal Guided Retreat, led by my friend Carla Waterman. The theme: Encircle Me, Oh God. Keep Love Within, Keep Fear Without.
It was exactly what I needed.
The 12 of us participating had sweet time together, praying and singing the hours. My Anglican heritage loved the liturgy, the structure, the music, the Word. But I also loved the hours for personal reflection.God knew the fear that gripped my heart and had prepared just the antidote I needed. These words, sung and prayed and reflected on set me free:
From Morning Prayer: God’s ear to hear me God’s hand to guide me God’s might to uphold me God’s shield to hide me Against all powers deceiving Against my own unbelieving Whether near or far
From Midday Prayer Encircle me, Oh God; keep faith within, keep pride without Encircle me, Oh God; keep hope within, keep despair without Encircle me, Oh God; keep love within, keep fear without
From Compline (Night Prayer) By day the Lord directs His love; at night His song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.
From a Prayer ExerciseCalm me, O Lord, as you stilled the stormStill me, O Lord, keep me from harm Let all the tumult within me cease Enfold me, Lord, in your peace.There was much more. But these prayers reminded me of the secret: Displacement.
Really? Displacement? Of course. If I keep love within, I will keep fear without. Which is exactly what the apostle John told us: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18)
Instead of remembering the pain of the past, I can remember the love poured over me lavishly, repeatedly, extravagantly by my Father in Heaven, by the Son who died for me, by the Spirit who lives in me.Then I can keep love within and fear without.
What about you? When does fear grip you?
c2013 Judy Douglass