Facing Fear

Life Notes—September 1, 2011

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.  We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:18-19 

I am allergic to poison ivy.  When I was a child my father and I would go into a wooded area near my grandparents’ home to pick wild grapes.  A few days later I would be covered with areas of itchy bumps. They would morph through several phases over a couple of weeks, then be gone.  My dad used to tell people I was so allergic to poison ivy I could get it just by talking about it.  Unfortunately, I have always been drawn to the wooded, natural areas where this dastardly vine thrives.  The extended yard of our current country home could make us rich, if only there was a market for the stuff. 

During college I worked as a landscaper for a nursery inTopeka.  One day I was clearing an overgrown area for replanting and realized the vine I had in my hand was—you guessed it—poison ivy.  I looked carefully at it and realized it’s actually quite attractive, especially its new growth in the spring and red leaves in the fall.  I planted it in a pot and put it on the deck of my apartment.  We co-existed for several years, my nemesis and me, while I watered and cared for it.  ‘Ivy’ was quite a conversation starter—maybe not the chick-magnet I hoped for, but a conversation starter, none-the-less. 

The passage above says, “Perfect love casts out fear…”  Certainly there is a fear, a dread I have of poison ivy.  The passage goes on to say, “…fear has to do with punishment.”  There is a definite form of punishment from my encounters with the plant.  But once I took the time to know it for what it was—a unique, if annoying part of God’s creation, I found I could appreciate its amazing constitution a little more.  I am not saying I ever learned to ‘love’ poison ivy, but I learned to recognize and respect it.  And those are two important elements of love. I would like to report my co-habitation with the stuff made me less allergic to it, but alas, that has simply not been true. 

How do you deal with what you fear?  What unavoidable unpleasantries manifest with regularity in your life?  I believe when something I fear keeps appearing, God is prompting me to pay special attention.  There is a lesson to be learned.  I may be a slow learner, but once I realize I will continue to suffer until I face what I fear, I am ‘iching’ to deal with the fear face-to-face.  Certainly the fear may not go away, but reaching a mutual understanding and familiarity can help ease anxiety levels. 

Tom is preaching downtown this Sunday, where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Eduardo Bousson, Washburn’s Campus Minister, will be at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Bring your fears with you…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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