Earlier this year I wrote a blog about fear, but God has brought this topic to me again from another perspective. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom 8:15)
Approaching this concept of fear from that of an orphan (before adoption) and then considering how long it takes an adopted orphan to shed that fear… this picture really shed light on the issue of fear in us Christians.
You see, Paul reminds us in several letters that as Christians with the Holy Spirit alive in us, we really have nothing to fear. But if that’s the case, then why do we fear? Then this line in Romans about adoption hits me today and I totally get it.
You see, my wife and I adopted two children. While they were still orphans, they had much to fear. Where would they get their next meal? Who would love and care for them? Would anyone harm them? Is there any safe place? Their fear was founded in unanswered questions that should never be unanswered in a child’s heart.
Naively, my wife and I assumed that once we had adopted these kids, and those questions now had answers, their fears would be relieved. Now we’re weren’t SO naïve as to believe this would happen instantly. But once they really believed we were there to stay and they were loved, then those behavior issues would melt away too.
Boy were we surprised. The more we have learned about working with kids who have faced trauma, the more we have discovered this is a very long process. They know they are loved. But they still have completely irrational fear from the trauma they faced. The baggage of that fear doesn’t go away as quickly as it developed. It’s been seven years now and they’ve been with us longer than they lived without us. But these emotions of fear will still be there for the long haul.
It is like this with us as Christians. Paul says “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5) But the truth is, even when we have accepted the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, we still have moments in time were we focus on the flesh. It is those times when we face fear. When we live according to the flesh, fear returns because there is no life in the flesh. But when we live according to the Spirit, fear vanishes because there is eternity in the Spirit.
So, when fear grips you, it is because you have slipped back into living according to the flesh. The cure for that is to say (out loud if it helps), “Spirit, I need you, I claim you. By your power, I cast out the spirit of darkness that is pulling be back into fear. I refuse to let him control me. I am a child of the One True King.”