Whom Shall I Fear?

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash.com

Dwelling In Creation and Its Creatures Subdues Our Fears

by Eric Elkin

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?
— Psalm 27:1

Whom shall I fear? The news seems to present a new menu of options every day. We need to fear the wild hordes of illegal immigrants crossing the border. There is the pending doom of climate change. The tragic crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane will undoubtedly raise the anxiety levels of several travelers. We could add to this list things like domestic abuse, crime, global conflict, and future employment. The list could go on and on.

Yesterday, a post on Facebook made me think of fear in a new light. A woman posted pictures of a recent trip to Chile. She and another female friend flew to the South American nation, rented a truck and toured the Patagonia region of Northern Chile. They traveled on their own, without any tour guide. The few pictures she posted looked amazing.

Upon their return, several people commented on how brave they were to take such a trip. Some even mentioned how dangerous it was for two women to travel on their own without a group or a tour guide. This seems like a reasonable thing to say for those who worry about safety. Yet, despite the best intention, the woman observed there was an underlying fear to it.

You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown. You travel for the unknown, that reveals you in yourself.
— Ella Maillart

The fear attached to these comments was a fear of one’s own vulnerability based on gender. While the woman knew the words were intended to be compassionate, but they also carried a sadness which attempted to rob the trip of its joy. It caught my attention, I had never thought about how deeply we try to weave terror into our own souls. How can we truly live if we possess anxiety about our own identity?

Statistically speaking, the most dangerous trip these women will take is their car ride to work every day. And, the same is true for every person regardless of gender identity. Experiential evidence seems to bear overwhelming support that people who take road trips meet the most amazing people. And, develop profound meaning to life. 

In a world of overwhelming threats, Psalm 27 reduces all available options for living down to one thing. “To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Some might interpret this as heaven. However, I think it is about living freely in the breadth of God’s creation. Those who dwell in the beauty of living things created by God - mountains, pampas, grasslands, communities of people, and good friends - discover both safety and joy. Fear is the only thing standing in the way of discovering this truth.

Click to read Psalm 27

Reflection Questions:

  • Whom do you fear today?

  • How rationale is this fear? And, how is it shaping your life?

  • What does it mean to you to dwell in the house of the Lord?

  • How can an encounter with creation and its creatures subdue your fear?

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