As part of our summer holiday, my wife, my two daughters and I walked up the beautiful Peak District hill, Mam Tor. It’s no Everest, and when we reached the peak there were young children happily marauding around the triangulation point.
As for me: my palms were sweating, I felt dizzy; my heart leapt every time my daughters strayed too far from the path. I gripped my wife’s hand, flinching a little as people brushed past me. I felt myself relax only when we had safely completed our descent a couple of miles later at the end of the ridge path.
There’s nothing particularly rational about my fear of heights. Unless I was to take some deliberate and reckless course of action, I’m perfectly safe walking up and down a hill. But sometimes fear grips us even when we know it has no place in our minds. Sometimes fear overwhelms us when we face difficult circumstances. Will my mum survive her cancer treatment? Will I have a job in a year’s time? Will my daughter ever be able to live an independent life?
Fear has a lot to do with lies. They’re the sort of lies that are laced with a little truth, the sort of lies that take the worst case scenario and magnify it until all other options seem unlikely. Fear can literally be paralysing.
In the Bible, we learn that “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). What is perfect love? It’s the love that came from God; the love that made itself human, experienced every emotion that we feel, “was tempted in every way, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). It’s the love that wept in his favourite garden, that cried out for another way to restore relationship with us, but that stared fear and death in the face, and “for the joy set before him, endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). It’s the love that was ultimately victorious over all the wrong things we’ve ever done, and ever will do. It’s the love that has robbed death of its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55).
I do still struggle with feelings of fear. There aren’t too many opportunities to test my fear of heights in an area as low-lying as West Norfolk, but there are plenty of situations in life that rattle me. Nevertheless, I’m learning to take these to God, to kill fear with His love, to trust Him in all circumstances and to be strengthened by him. No matter what fear is gripping you, God is there, and there are churches across the town full of people, who may have their own fears, but who are learning to trust God in everything.
The Gateway Church