So, now this seems to have turned into an annual thing: the non-pastors on our church leadership staff get scheduled to blog. And I have been thinking long and hard about this one. It was made worse last week by having to follow Gregg Huether’s terrific, heart-felt blog. Last year I talked about the diagnosis I just received of stage 4 cancer. What can I say that would be a follow up? I decided I would be honest and tell you how I’m doing. I’m living with fear. Fear seems to be my constant companion. I’m not proud to say it. A little ashamed even. I can hide it when I need to, but give me some down time by myself, and I go straight to fear. I can be falling asleep, exhausted, watching TV, and then I get up to go to bed, get to bed and stay up for hours nursing and going over my fears. You would probably never notice, but we are singing a lot of songs in church about fear. Selfishly it has a lot to do with me. However, I feel the devil is working overtime on me, and I wonder if he’s working on you, too. I truly believe the devil relishes any tool in his arsenal to separate us from God. And I truly believe fear is his major weapon. And why not? It works on everybody. Our fears are endless. My mom had a strong, bedrock kind of faith. She could quote chapter and verse at the drop of a hat, which was pretty much all the time for her. If they had had female pastors in her day, she would have been one. Instead, she stood by as she watched her father and brother fill those roles in the man’s world of her day. However, her bedrock faith was rocked the day she died. At her deathbed, I was shocked to see this tower of faith and strength shaking in her boots with fear. She told me to call Pastor Scott and get him there quickly. He arrived and started with some pleasantries, then she directed him to give her the assurance she needed from scripture. My world was rocked. How could she, of all people, be so afraid? She knew of her future with certainty, yet fear crept in. The devil really did his best to erode her assurance that day. Well now I have a more personal relationship with fear. Death is not as imminent for me as it was for my mother that day, but it certainly looms large for me. Asking the doctor “how long” and hearing “five to ten years” may have been a mistake for me. How do any of us, healthy or not, know how long we have on this earth? It’s just that the naivety of assuming we all have years and years has been erased. What’s there to replace the uncertainty? Fear. The devil loves the gray areas of wonder and speculation. I’ve read that the Bible says “do not be afraid” or words very near that over 365 times. That’s one a day, for all of us who live with fear. That’s once a day as an opportunity to confront the devil. 365 is a lot of repetition for people who live with confidence and assurance, until suddenly they don’t. “Do not be afraid.” Sounds simple, but the living out is another thing. Or at least it is for me. There are two songs in particular, one for traditional worship, and one in contemporary, that absolutely address just what we ought to do with fear. Both are scheduled to be sung in the next few weeks. The traditional one is “Let Your Faith be Stronger than Your Fear.” In the deserts of your life, I’ll not desert you. I will make a way beside a flowing stream. Through the valley, do not fear, for I am with you; My rod and staff to comfort and redeem. Do not be afraid, I go before you. Do not be afraid, I am by your side. Be still and know that I am with you. Let your faith be stronger than your fear. The contemporary piece is “Stand in Your Love" When darkness tries to roll over my bones, When sorrow comes to steal the joy I own, When brokenness and pain is all I know. Oh, I won’t be shaken, no, I won’t be shaken. My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love. My fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in Your love. If you'd like a copy of these songs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org So, my battle plan is this: To sing words of hope at every opportunity (the devil hates that). To bask in the love and support of my family (the devil must certainly hate all that love). To enjoy the support of community (the devil runs away because he knows this verse well: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”) Fear is my constant companion. Faith is my weapon of choice.