|Livin' With the Fear No More|
(by Chris Long)
Back before I truly gave my heart to Jesus and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord in July 1995, I had quite a number of fears. But there was one that stands out among all the others - the fear of death. The Lord was reminding me of this today as I pondered some songs I had written in that seemingly long-ago year of 1995 when I was 14-15 years old.
One of those songs was called "Livin' With the Fear" and its chorus went something like this:
"Livin' with the fear, every night, every night
This was written in late January 1995. I can remember pondering death and feeling scared and hopeless about it. Not that these lyrics are anything stellar, but they certainly put that fear into clear and concise words, no? It honestly terrified me and I remember telling myself just not to think about it. The easiest thing to do was just to avoid thinking about it. I suspect this is the same approach that many people still take.
But you know, a funny thing happened. In early July of that same year, I truly surrendered to the Lord. In my case, it wasn't anything "showy" by human terms - it was just me and the Lord in my garage. But after working through some big questions I had about God ("why do bad things happen?" etc.) I came to the place where I made the choice to choose Jesus Christ. I realized I was a sinner and needed a Savior - and that God had provided such a Savior for me. I placed my faith in Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins and to make me right with God. I won't say that I instantly felt massively different, but I was different and knew it.
Once I surrendered to God, His peace came into my life and manifested itself by transforming several areas of my outward behavior. In literally only a few months, I was a very different person to most anybody that was looking.
Romans 5:1-2 says: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (NIV)
Besides transforming behavior, this peace transformed my thinking. One of the key things that changed was that I suddenly realized several months later that I didn't fear death any more!
Hebrews 2:14-15 says: "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (NIV)
Just as this Scripture says, I had been set free.
I thought to myself, "you know Chris, you should change that song you wrote earlier." And so I did. I re-wrote the song in late November 1995 - the new chorus went like this:
"Livin' with the fear, no more, no more
Now, yes, I realize that at first glance these words might appear a little simplistic. We know that just because we accept Jesus, it doesn't mean that our life instantly goes perfectly here. But we ARE to leave our worries behind - as a child of God, we are to leave our worries at the cross. We are not to worry but instead to trust God.
And this is no more pertinent then with the issue of death.
See, I had good reason to fear death before I surrendered to God. Really, I did. We are held accountable for what we do with Jesus and if I were to have died knowing about Jesus and what He did for me, but unwilling to place my faith in, and surrender to, Him, I would have had a horrible eternal future to look forward to. No-one really told me all this - nobody told me much about hell. I was largely taught the opposite with my upbringing being in a Christian denomination who believes that all who are baptized as infants, as I was, are automatic "children of God" and going to Heaven. (sidenote because I know someone is thinking it: this is a separate issue from infants that die - I'm not addressing that in this article)
But no amounts of theology like this - no matter how great it sounded on paper - could keep me from what I innately knew - even as a 15-year-old. I feared death because I innately knew deep-down inside that I was not right with God because I had not chosen to admit my sin and put my faith in Christ. Even with my very limited knowledge at the time, I knew that the Scriptures didn't teach an "automatic salvation," but rather a salvation based on faith. I mean, even John 3:16 lays that one out pretty clearly. I certainly didn't understand any of this nearly like I do now, but I understood enough and in simple faith, humbled myself before God. And God met me in that simple faith and came to reside in me.
But before that happened, I defintely had reason to fear. It WAS terrifying. It would have been horrible. A future in darkness with "weeping and gnashing of teeth" doesn't sound so enticing, you know what I mean? Again, I don't think I consciously realized all this at the time - I was just thinking of fearing the process or method of dying, etc. But really I had good reason to fear - beyond what I could even comprehend at the time.
But what a difference 10 months makes!
You see, I wrote that first song on January 26, 1995 and I wrote the second song on November 20, 1995. Basically 10 months. And you know what event was right about in the middle? You guessed it - my surrendering and placing my faith in Jesus Christ. It was basically 5 months prior to that event that I wrote the first song and it was basically 5 months after that event that I wrote the second song. This little tidbit blew me away when the Lord showed me that today. It's funny how the Lord works, you know?
The Bible only tells us that there is one legitimate object of fear - and that could be considered more of a "reverential" type rather than a "cowering in the corner" type - and that is a "fear of the Lord". The Bible says in Psalm 111:10a that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom". If you have an appropriate fear of the Lord and put God in His proper place in your heart and life, then all other fears in this life of other human beings and circumstances, and even death itself, are inconsequential to say the least.
Even as a believer though, there have been times when I've let fear get the better of me, even with this whole issue of death. But the truth is that as believers we have absolutely nothing to fear at all. If God is our Father (and He IS), and if this is the same God who made the universe and made us (and He IS), and if this is the God that has given us His promise that those who have faith in His Son will have everlasting life with Him, then we have NOTHING to fear.
In Romans 8:15-16, Paul tells us: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." (NIV)
We are not to be slaves of fear - death or otherwise. If you've placed your faith in Jesus Christ to save you from your sins and have consciously chosen Christ, the Spirit Himself dwells in you and confirms to you that you are His and are sealed by Him.
Leave the worrying to those outside of Christ. They SHOULD worry. They SHOULD be afraid. Perhaps that fear and worry will, like me, help them to become more open to learning about how they can be set free from all that by humbling themselves before the very God that made them.
But as blood-bought, redeemed children of God that are abiding in Him, we have absolutely nothing to fear in this life - and worry should be a thing of the past. The King has set us free. The King has declared us righteous. No matter what the future may hold here on this planet and the exact methodology by which we will die, it matters not because this is all passing away anyway. This body is just our shell - how it goes is of little importance. Our spirit lives on. We're going to see the King and we will be with Him forever and ever. Hallelujah!!!! What else really matters?
"Livin' With the Fear No More!"
Is that your cry today? Can you say that you no longer are a slave to fear - fear of man or fear of circumstances you cannot control?
If not, you can change that right now:
"Dear Lord, Forgive me for my fear and worry. I know that everything is in Your hands, including my life. You are the Lord over all and that includes my body. Help me to live as the free and redeemed child that you have made me. Help me to live with no fear of others and of circumstances and to wholly trust You with everything that is happening or may happen in the future. Please remove all such fear now from my life and instead teach me how to appropriately fear You as I recognize that is where wisdom begins. Thank you for dying for me and paying my sin debt that I could never pay. I love you Jesus. Amen."
With Christ's love,
This is version 2.1 of this document (April 25, 2012).