The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
Back in the 1990s, I started getting "No Fear" T-shirts for my birthday. They always included macho slogans like, "Life is a contact sport." I'd wear them when I exercised, though I doubt I ever made intentional contact with anyone. I could wear the shirt, but that didn't mean I followed its advice. To be honest, no matter what I wear, I still have to battle my fears: fear of failure, fear of dying from cancer (like my father), fear of being a bad husband or parent, fear of people's disapproval, etc.
Sometimes fear is good. I'm not just thinking of reverential fear for the Lord, either. For example, if you're out hiking on a mountain trail and you see a mountain lion in the distance, you ought to be afraid enough to back slowly away. Even if you were wearing a "No Fear" shirt that said, "Go ahead and pet the lion," you'd be better off paying attention to your trepidation.
But most of our fears are not especially helpful, even if they are understandable. We feel afraid because we can't protect ourselves or our loved ones from forces too big for us. We lack the power to save ourselves from so many scary things in our world. Thus we are afraid. And fear can keep us from living fully and freely. It can turn us inward as we wall ourselves off from others. It prevents us from enjoying the abundant life of Christ.
What is the antidote to such fear? Not a T-shirt, that's for sure. And not lots of self-talk, as if we can coach ourselves out of feeling afraid. No, the antidote to fear doesn't come from within our selves, but from the Lord. As Psalm 27:1 asks: "The LORD is my light and my —salvation so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" If God is my light, the one who shows me the way, then I don't have to be afraid. If God is my salvation, then my life is safe in his hands and I don't have to worry. If God is my fortress, then I can always take refuge in him.
The more you and I know the Lord, the more we will be set free to live without fear. The more we center our lives in him, the more we will have guidance for each day. The more we draw our strength from God, the more we will be able to live confidently. T-shirt or not, we will be people of "No Fear."
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are the things in life that make you afraid? When you feel fear, what do you do? How might your life be different if you trusted in God as your light, salvation, and fortress? If you were truly free from fear, how might you live differently today?
PRAYER: All praise be to you, O God, because you are my light. You show me the way to live. You guide my paths so that I might live fully in service to you.
All praise be to you, O God, because you are my salvation. You have saved me once and for all in Christ. You continue to save me from the messes I get myself into. You save me from my tendency to walk away from you, beckoning me home by your Spirit.
All praise be to you, O God, because you are my fortress. You protect me from so many things: from harm, from success I cannot handle, from the empty life that can be so tempting. Thank you for being strong when I am weak and for always being there for me.
Help me, dear Lord, to trust you more each day, so that I might live without fear. Amen.