Nothing to fear with God on our side

Published 4:06 pm Monday, December 17, 2018

was packing for a flight to Seattle, having been asked to preach at a Discover God’s Call retreat. My flight was canceled — and I was not upset about the cancellation. Every plane in America was grounded because someone had flown an airliner into the World Trade Center. There was an epidemic of “pteromerhanophobia,” the fear of flying.

The 10 most common fears are “acrophobia,” the fear of heights; “pteromerhanophobia,” the fear of flying; “claustrophobia,” the fear of enclosed spaces; “entomophobia,” the fear of insects; “ophidiophobia,” the fear of snakes; “cynophobia,” the fear of dogs; “astraphobia,” the fear of storms; and “trypanophobia,” the fear of needles.

We’re born with only two fears — the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All the rest we acquire along the way as we experience unpleasant encounters with the world around us.

Fear is the emotional reaction to some perceived danger. The hypothalamus signals the body to release adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. The adrenaline shifts the body into high gear and the cortisol releases glucose into the bloodstream providing energy, just in case you want to “run for your life.”

The beloved apostle John envisioned heaven and met Jesus there. He described that encounter saying, “I turned around to see who was talking to me, and I saw seven gold lamp-stands, and among them there was what looked like a human being, wearing a robe that reached to his feet, and a gold band around his chest. His hair was white as wool, or as snow, and his eyes blazed like fire; his feet shone like brass that has been refined and polished, and his voice sounded like a roaring waterfall. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth. His face was as bright as the midday sun. When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last. I am the living one! I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead (Revelation 1).”

In John’s vision, the first thing Jesus says to him is, “Don’t be afraid.” And I’ve remembered those words several times in my life — just last week they found a spot on the inside back of my eye.

It was a benign tumor and “nothing to fear.” One of the gifts of God we ought to remember during Christmas is the freedom from fear.