Not too long ago, I was listening to tips on how to do well during a job interview. The advice giver was listing some of the common questions that surface in interviews and one of those questions was “What is your greatest weakness?” I have struggled with that question because I flip flop from feeling like I have none that I could not overcome, to feeling like it is just EVERYTHING about me. However, that night I really started giving it some thought and I decided that my greatest weakness is my tendency to allow fear to control my life.
Recently, because I have been afraid of some unknown I have wronged at least one person and probably two. I have also withdrawn from other people instead of being open. I look at the heart of the matter and it comes down to the fact that I am afraid. Fear for me is this terrifying reality. I could see myself in a movie as the person who hallucinates and is paranoid about everything. I have allowed my fear to invade so much that I was unable to enjoy something that I love to do.
I was thinking about all this when I suddenly remembered an incident when I was younger. My family was enjoying a Sunday-school outing at a lake one afternoon. If I remember correctly, the Sunday School teachers owned a boat and they would use the boat to pull people on inner tubes. I could not wait for my turn! When it was time for me to go, I wore my life jacket and held on tight to the handles of the tube. Over the top of the water I sailed, and then we started to turn. I knew that there was a possibility of falling off the tube when that happened so I grabbed tighter. Still turning, I felt my hands slipping as the rest of my body was pulled into the water. Out in the middle of the lake I suddenly realized that the only thing I could see was brown murkiness around me. I struggled to come up (aided of course by the life jacket) and I did. The boat circled around and I was able to get back on the tube.
Falling off really had frightened me! I kept feeling myself get pulled into the water and then seeing myself surrounded by water to both sides and on top. These feelings and images were fresh in my mind as I climbed back on that tube. At that point I remembered a little song that I had learned in Bible study.
“God did not give us a Spirit that makes us afraid,
God did not give us a Spirit that makes us afraid,
but of power and love and self control.”
Those might not be the exact words, but they are close. The verse it is based on is 2 Timothy 1:7 which says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV) I repeated the song over and over again and I somehow managed to hear my dad and a family friend in the boat remarking that I looked like I was singing. I was clinging to that verse because I was terrified of falling again.
The memory of all that caught me off guard because I feel like that was one moment in my life that I can point to a verse really meaning something to me. Perhaps, figuratively, I am in the same place. I am holding on for dear life trying to avoid falling under everything and drowning, and I am petrified and at times paralyzed with fear. But the verse remains the same “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
My fear is not from God. He is not wanting to see my cloaked in fear and terror. Rather, I am possessed with His likeness when I have power, love and self-control (or sound mind). When I am strong and can remain standing like a tall, old tree when the winds of life blow, then I can know God’s Spirit is in me. When I can love deeply, then I can see the mark of the Spirit of God. When I can rest my mind in His Hands, then I can again feel the Spirit of God moving in my life.
God has not given me a spirit of fear.
He says “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
God has given me a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind.