Every so often, I get a flash of insight that feels deep and memorable. I am not so sure for how long I actually remember it...but at the time, it feels memorable.
This happened to me on Sunday while I was in worship at Trinity. Tom Duffy was sharing the monologue on Caiaphas (the Lenten Monologues in worship have been great). I don't know what sparked this thought exactly, but it dawned on me that one of the greatest challenges in life is fear... and that somehow, my role as pastor involves being present to folks in ways that address fear, and invite folks to a deeper relationship of trust and freedom with Christ and with people.
I thought more about this last night in study group. We were talking about the Christian life being about acts of piety and acts of mercy. I remembered my own fears when I began this journey in earnest. I was intimidated, even scared, by the idea of prayer. I didn't know how to pray and every one else seemed to assume that it just comes naturally. Not only did I find acts of piety like prayer intimidating, I found acts of mercy to be as well. Eating dinner with homeless folks. Sharing in 2 weeks of Truck Stop ministry. Every time I engaged in a new spiritual practice, there was some level of fear surrounding it, if for no other reason that because it was new.
I think about all of the fear that surrounds our lives. I was talking with two moms this week who are worried/scared for their children in so many circumstances- riding the school bus, going to the mall, driving at night, going into Wilmington, etc. I really do try to commend my children to God's care, plan to teach them basic safety measures, and then trust God for the rest. I expect that parental fear becomes more intense as the kids get older and more independent. (My kids are 3 and 5.)
But I really really don't want to live my life in fear and worry for their safety. It is not abundant life. When I imagine some horrible thing that could happen to my kids, rather than fear it, I try to imagine how God would be present in that circumstance. I try to imagine trusting God in the midst of my child being in a car accident, or fill in the blank of 100 more horrible things that could happen.
The somewhat ironic thing is that I discovered that it is in the act of doing new things (even prayer and service) and facing the fear, the fear dissipates. I think the unknown is worse than anything else.