Flying Fear

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“That bird does not want to eat you.”

Mango squawked his disagreement. Our moody Sun Conure perched on his homemade wooden stand on the lanai, the relentless Florida sun pressing through the screen, even in early April.

Mango had just enjoyed a warm lanai shower, via the hose, and now anxiously watched the dark brown bird gliding overhead. We live near a large cluster of woods, and various birds and creatures visit our bird feeder all times of the day and night.

Vultures often fly overhead, long jagged feathers outlined against the bright blue sky. I wonder if they see our dog’s battered, stuffed animal toys dotting our fenced backyard and inspect them to make sure they’re not potential meals. 🙂

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But whenever the vultures appear, Mango sets up a loud cry, his purring warning cackle followed by loud squawks. No matter if I stand beside him and reassure him, scratch his head, or offer to hold him (all on the lanai), he’s done. He wants inside, soaking wet or not.

His fear of the huge birds overwhelms him to the point he can’t function, despite the fact that I’m right there, vultures don’t eat live animals, and he’s safe inside the screened lanai.

Fear. 

Fear has a big place in my life. Too big, at times. I detest it because I’m familiar with its crippling hold on my heart and actions. How many times has it held me back from stepping out to obey the Lord in something outside my comfort zone, or kept me from trying something new.

Fear keeps us frozen in place, or running backward. And that’s the opposite of God’s plans for us.

I appreciate 2 Timothy so much. The Apostle Paul’s words to young, beloved son in the Lord Timothy have kept fear at bay many times in my life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (1:7) 

If you have vultures flying overhead–know they’re not a threat. Don’t be fearful.

You’re already protected under the shadow of the Almighty, believers. You are privileged to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. ❤ And that’s the best place to be. 

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Phobophobia

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“Mom, I think you have Arachnophobia.” Cole said from across the living room.

“Probably. Although I don’t mind little spiders, just the big ones that can run faster than me.”

I glanced at our older son to see his reaction, but his ten-year old mind was focused back on the large library book spread over his lap. National Geographic’s Awesome Facts about Everything was opened to a page dedicated to a variety of human fears.

Cole rattled off a long list of phobias, fumbling over some of the strange words, many of which were new to me as well.

“Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Claustrophobia is the fear of tight spaces and no escape. Phobophobia is a fear of fear. Myrmechophobia is a fear of ants. Zoophobia is a fear of animals. Globophobia is a fear of balloons or balloons popping. Astraphobia is a fear of thunder or lightning. Chromophobia is a fear of bright colors. Agoraphobia is a fear of leaving safe places. Anthophobia is a fear of flowers.”

He stopped reading, looked up. “How can anyone be scared of flowers?”

“I don’t know, but some people have spiders for pets and other people climb up to high places on purpose, so there you go. We all have certain things that get to us.”

Later I thought about the long list of fears Cole read off. How some of the fears seemed logical, but others seemed completely illogical. I don’t mind a balloon popping nearby or bright colors or leaving my house to go shopping, but then again I don’t like high places and I cannot handle being in a small space with no way out.

Sharp flashes of my New England childhood came back, memories of being buried under carved-out snow banks with neighbors as we waged snowball wars against each other. I would have taken ten snowball smacks to the cheek rather than stay inside a dug-out snow cave with only one tiny entrance, which was often blocked by someone else coming in or out and topped by a few feet of heavy snow above.

My breath catches just thinking of it.

Cole and I talked about phobias being the result of the Fall. Logical or illogical fears are also a reminder that we’re all uniquely created and respond differently to different stimuli in our environment. Phobias can freeze our lives like ice blocks, keeping us frozen in place with worry about what might happen.

But Jesus didn’t die so we could live frozen.

God’s Word reminds us dozens of times – through command and through the personal experiences of Saints who have come before us – that we don’t need to be afraid. Living in fear of this or that possibly happening is living opposite to the freedom we’ve been given in Christ.

When I’m living fearfully I negate what Jesus did on the Cross.

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How I don’t want to do that. How I need His help to fight those phobias that can anchor us to things on the earth, instead of keeping us reaching for things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Jesus gave us the Helper – the Holy Spirit – and His word to cling to. So many times, Scripture has kept me afloat during fearful seasons and tight spaces when fear gripped me like a pair of wet gloves. Because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

I pray God’s word and His Holy Spirit will give you peace in your fearful storm. His peace surpasses all understanding and will guard your heart and mind through Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27, NKJV)