A curse of being creative is the ability to imagine the worst. The horror stories you write become actual possibilities, and a simple unanswered call turns into an abduction. I’m very good at this. In my lifetime, I’ve imagined someone’s glass planter to be a weird drug device, contacted the police about a kidnapping when my friend didn’t answer her phone, and driven miles out of my way when I thought I was being followed.
In my defense, though, if any of those things had been true, I could have been very helpful.
I see the problem in my behavior. Fear is crippling and misleads us. It’s a bad thing, and I’ve been actively trying NOT to live in fear of what might happen or the hardships that may come my way.
So, last year, when I chose FEARFUL as my word for the year, it felt a little wrong. I didn’t really need to be more fearful. With my imagination and insecurities, I was lucky to leave the house. But there was something about fear I had been missing—something very important.
Throughout 2021, I also studied Proverbs. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about fear.
Proverbs 3:25 says, “Do not be afraid of sudden terror,” and Proverbs 10:24 assures us that “what the wicked dreads will come upon him.” The fear of other people is also covered and called a snare. (Proverbs 29:25)
But there is a fear in Proverbs that stands out above the others—the fear of the LORD. This one idea is mentioned over twenty times throughout Proverbs, and if you look in the entire Bible, you will find the concept of fearing God well over one hundred times.
He is God, and I Am NOT
So, my word this year was fearful, and I learned a lot about that fear.
For one thing, I realized that when you fear God more than you fear everything else, you can risk more, be more yourself, and put others first more often. There’s nothing to prove when you trust God is who he says he is, and there’s everything to gain.
When we don’t fear the Lord, we are more likely to do things on our own, to follow what makes sense to us, what works. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we surmise we don’t need Him to tell us the difference between right and wrong. We can do it ourselves.
The Beginning of Wisdom
But God is the great I AM. We don’t define Him or limit Him or tell Him what He can and cannot do. We surrender, and in that surrender our fear of Him sets us free to live and move and dance and dream in ways we can’t do on our own.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It’s the starting point for realizing who you are in the grand scheme of things and who God is. It’s where the warrior begins. There is no other place. “Fear God and keep his commandments. This is the duty of mankind.” (That’s in Ecclesiastes, not Proverbs, but the same King wrote them both.)
So, I have become a new kind of warrior. One who starts the battle with a sober understanding of her place on the battlefield. I stand yielded, wearing the armor given me, wielding the sword put in my hand, and trusting the Almighty God of the universe to lead the way.
Fearful. That was my word for 2021. I’ll share my 2022 word next month, but until then, will you tell me about your word for 2021? What did you learn?
Mary Beth, my word for 2021 was HOPE. I leaned on trust in God while I finished graduate school (for the 3rd time!) and started a new job in a new vocation. I also learned that while hope is appealing and necessary, it can also be terrifying. What happens if what we hope for doesn’t come to pass? Then what? Yet, if what we hope for does come to pass, then what? What will be required of us to make a change and live differently?
David, I loved how your brought out that hope can be terrifying. That’s so true. Yet, you didn’t let that stop you. You are a true warrior, and I can’t wait to see where 2022 takes you!