Fearless…or Maybe Not
- February 05, 2016
- Josh Godwin
I don’t scare very easily. At least I don’t like to think so. Although, I have to admit I don’t watch scary movies because my imagination likes to show off just how crazy it can be post-horror story. It wasn’t until I was well into my teen years that I was able to watch Ghost Busters all the way through. I had seen the one scene where Rick Moranis’s character, Louis Tully, is chased by the demon dog of Gozer the Gozarian, which caused some problems. Don’t complain about me giving away the fate of Louis; the movie’s been out for over thirty years, there’s been plenty of time to avoid spoilers. But it was a problem because after watching that scene my imagination thought it would be cool to show off just how much it could convince me that my brass bedroom doorknob looked like eyes reflecting on my window and I was petrified that Gozer’s terror dogs were outside my window. Cool, right?
I don’t participate in haunted houses because I don’t like jump scares, which compromise 97.5% of all haunted house experiences. What is a “jump scare,” you wonder? A jump scare is any time something/one pops up or out or around a corner, you name it, in front of you to frighten you. Remember how you used to ambush your sibling around the hallway corner? Jump scare. While I’m not fond of jump scares for their terrifying and startling nature, I also avoid them for the safety of others. If I went to a haunted house, the first time that demon clown popped around the corner brandishing his corn-syrup soaked plastic machete, I feel that my first reaction would be to deliver my hand towards that silly red nose. So I don’t do haunted houses. Is that crazy? Maybe, or maybe not.
So maybe I’m not as fearless as I thought. Maybe I’ve learned to live in that space of awareness that I should avoid certain things because of the “fear” they create. But why do we experience fear like this? What is it about fear that grips us so tightly and controls our actions and thoughts as well as our emotions?
Someone told me a very cheesy acronym once about fear, so bear with me and embrace the cheesiness. Fear is a False Expectation About Risk. Cringingly cheesy, I know, but I really think it’s a good acronym. Because most fears are false expectations about the risk we encounter. There’s absolutely no risk in watching a scary movie, so the expectation of something like that is completely false! While there are very real risks out there and very good times that fear helps keep us safe, we can’t become paralyzed by false fears.
But the good news is we don’t have to at all. Over and over again in the Bible we are promised that God will be present amongst us and with us. And what does this presence mean? It means that we don’t have to fear! If the God that created everything we fear is present with us, surely we can endure the heights, the spiders, the things in the shadows, and maybe even the terrors of our own imaginations.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t real things out there that we should be afraid of, or that we can’t be untouched by the cold hands of fear as long as God is with us. God was with Jesus up to the bitter end, and I’m almost certain that Jesus felt at least a little fear about that temporary end. But what it does mean is that we don’t have to be crippled by that fear. I may not be as fearless as I like to think that I am, but I’m comforted to know that I don’t have to be. I don’t have to be fearless myself because knowing that God is with me always gives me everything I need to live beyond the fear of imaginary terror dogs outside my window. Cool, right?