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Shark Week Therapy

In June of 1975 a movie was released that changed people’s view of the ocean forever. The movie? Jaws. (Raise your hand if an eerie two-note toon is now playing in your head.) Who knew a single movie could create an irrational fear of sharks that, decades later, is still felt by many? The first time I saw Jaws I was somewhere between the ages of seven to nine (what were my parents thinking?). From that point on, I had an irrational fear of sharks. As kids, my brothers and I pretty much lived at the public pool to avoid frying in the Kansas heat. But once I saw Jaws, I wasn’t so eager to jump in the water! The shadows cast in the water by the high dive had begun to look rather shark-like. So, I frequently checked and double-checked the water of the deep end before jumping in.

Fear can be a debilitating thing - especially when it's irrational. My irrational fear of sharks kept me out of the water for a time when I was a kid. But then I thought rationally. Sharks - especially like the Great White in Jaws -  would not find the deep end of the public pool to their liking. In fact, there’s no way they could even get into the pool, let alone somehow hide in the shadows of the high dive. My fear had no basis in reality. 

As I’ve grown older, new fears try to rule my life. Fear of what people will think of me. Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of screwing up my kids for life. Fear of... well… you get the idea. But these are irrational fears because they are all based on me: what I’m able to accomplish, what I’m able to know, what I’m able to control. And the reality is that I’m small. I’m finite. In the grand scheme of eternity, I’m a tiny blip in time. And let’s face it, I have control over very little.  

But there is one who is greater than me, who is infinite and eternal. He is all knowing, all powerful, and all present. There is nothing outside of what He knows, what He guides, what He sustains, and what He controls. His judgment is just and full of grace and mercy. Even when I do something stupid, He is right there loving me regardless of my stupidity. 

When I focus on the one who made and sustains all of Creation, my irrational fears are rendered powerless.

The Bible is full of passages that teach us to “fear not”. But then it also teaches in Proverbs 1:7a that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…,”  and then again in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” How do we “fear not,” while also “fearing the LORD,”? 

Join me this coming Sunday as we wrap up our Summer Wise / Summer Not series by looking at what it means to have a healthy, rational fear of the LORD that trumps our irrational fears.

Grace & Peace,