How Can Fear Be Overcome?

I was in court recently. It all started eighteen months ago. I walked out my front door with a large saw in my hand. Don’t worry – I wasn’t the defendant in my court appearance. There were just a few tree branches in my backyard beginning to meander over my property. As I stepped off my front porch I was shocked to realize I had bigger worries than the greenery. A large pitbull loomed on the road a few feet from the end of my driveway. Our eyes met. No owner was in sight, no leash either. The dog didn’t seem enthusiastic to see me. Just as I came to grips with this untethered visitor, another equally unyoked pitbull bounded down the street. I scurried inside, saw in hand.

In their 30-minute stint of freedom they chased neighbours and kids. They pounced on another dog. They even spray painted the skateboard park and loitered at the corner store. Okay, those last two aren’t true. I called the police and gave a statement, hence my recent judicial duty. The kicker? Almost exactly the same thing happened three weeks later. I caught a video worthy of a Cops episode.

I mention this story, because I find when threatened, I can give in to fear. Fear can paralyze me whenever I think about sending my 6, 4 and 2-year-old girls beyond our yard. You know, out there into the bigger world. I think of the Supreme Court’s recent euthanasia vote. I’m often reminded of the social pressures from media and peers. I worry about the the ideological pit bulls bearing down on my little girls. Drugs. Sex. Rock and roll.

Boys.

I know that fear cannot be my response. Living in fear is no way to live. My initial reaction may be and probably should be fear. But it can’t persist. Instead, I need to let my fear pass through the Gospel, having “no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, make [my] requests known to God.” (Phil 4:6) Then I’ll have peace and confidence. Peace that surpasses all understanding and confidence that God is with me and my family despite the threats. In faith we know that the world is conquered (John 16:33) and that we don’t need to be afraid. My children are God’s children through baptism and he’s looking out for them. They have the Holy Spirit of God working in and through them. Who should be afraid? Me? Or the world?

Of course, my wife and I must take prudent precautions with dogs, boys, and everything in between and beyond. I haven’t seen the neighbourhood pit bulls recently, but I’m not naive to the threats. We don’t let the girls go outside for long on their own anymore. I occasionally glance apprehensively down the street before cracking the front door. I watch from the deck as my children run wild through the playset. I’ve warned them about the dogs and I let them play. I try to model and teach them that prudence and caution are indispensable, but that fear needs to give way to peace and confidence.

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