Watching the news Sunday night took me back to September 11, 2001 and the months following. In April 2002, 7 months after 9-11 Joel headed to New York City as a representative from his Iowa Synod office. Lutherans were gathering together to unite in worship and to give pastors in NYC and the surrounding areas a well earned break. Our son Matt, who is a police officer, went along with his dad on the 5 day trip, partly because he did not want him going there alone. Joel was able to serve in the oldest church in New York state, taking a commuter train to get there. It was a special time for both of them. He and Matt also took in some sites like the statue of Liberty and ground zero.
This came to mind because of how quickly NYC officers responded to the latest bombing. I remember Matt saying to me after he had been to NYC, that he thought it was the safest city in the country now. He had noticed a police officer positioned at least every half block. When we were there in 2013 I felt the same way. Police were everywhere you looked. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
And yet in just 24 hours..............bombs go off in Manhattan and New Jersey............lone radicals stab people in a St. Cloud Minnesota mall we have shopped in ourselves............ It is all enough to give fear residence.
We once lived with a threat of violence in our home sometimes keeping Joel or myself alert into the morning hours. We lived with a threat of violence outside our home resulting in undercover police sitting in our church pews and years of extra precautions regarding our children. We lived in a third world country with bars on our windows and security guards with shotguns walking our streets. It was enough to give fear a home.
There is a healthy fear that is necessary, but living in fear can leave us breathless while feeling helpless to what is "out there" or "in here". Having danced a waltz with fear in the past, I get it. Yet, God..........
Yet God tells us we have not been given a spirit of fear....but of power, love, and a sound mind. God tells us His perfect love casts out fear, to be still people. Trust. We do what we can within reason to protect ourselves and our family, but to live continually in response to fear is not part of God's plan for His children. He has a no fear plan for us.
So much easier said than done, but God understands. He has told us at least 365 times in His Word "Do not be afraid". One for every day of the year. He knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb. He would not give us a command we cannot follow. "Do not be afraid." Yes, He has a no fear plan for our lives.
Do you have things in your lives that cause fear to take up residence. Maybe those radicals carrying out acts of terror here in our own country, in our malls, on our streets. Maybe it is hard not to pick up and carry the fear the media fuels for their own purposes. Maybe it is a situation you deal with closer to home or a doctor's report that makes you forget to breath for a moment.
It is all out there. It is a broken world we live in, and it feels like things are escalating along with our heart beat. But God............