This photo of Toddler C was taken a couple of nights ago. She had fallen asleep in my bedroom. When she woke up an hour or so later in the unfamiliar room, she somehow got down the bed on her own and took a sleepy stumble down the dark hallway to the living room where her parents and I were chatting. She didn’t cry. She must have heard her parents’ voices and was drawn instinctively towards them - and the light. And soon, she was asleep again. This time on my new couch (comfort test passed!)

It made me think that the opposite of fear is not courage, it is security.

“For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of self-control. /因為神所赐给我们的不是胆怯的灵,而是有能力、仁爱、自律的灵”

A friend gave me a card with this verse in Chinese a few years ago. During that time, by sheer chance, J found out that she and I were both at the same hospital, a week apart, and with the same neurosurgeon! This coincidence was a great comfort to him then, it felt like God’s providence.

Although the context for this verse is the writer urging a younger person to be bold in sharing the gospel of the risen Christ, I have always just read the verse as a general encouragement when we are afraid.

When we fear how we are feeling, what we are doing (or not able to), where we are headed…. the encouragement I found in the verse is this: If we look to ourselves and our circumstances, fear may indeed be a response. In fear, be it fight or flight, we may speak or act rashly, defensively, violently. If we have been rescued and forgiven by God, and no judgement or shame - past or future - chains us, then there is no fight or flight. You are free to live with confidence, love and a self-refining. 

Worries, anxieties and fears are part of our everyday lives. They do not disappear with a Bible verse. And sometimes the deep seated ones grow out of proportion - take control of us, irrationally, obsessively. This Easter, if you are in this kind of mind space, even if you suddenly wake up in a fearful unfamiliar darkness, I hope that you follow the light and voice of your rescuing God to stumble down that hallway, onto that comfy metaphorical couch in secure rest.


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