Now, because of you, Lord, I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for no matter what happens, I will live unafraid! Psalm 4:8 (TPT)
Be Fearless – The Verses Series – Part 2
This verse is all well and good while declaring it in broad daylight, but when it gets dark and lonely, all notions of living unafraid disappear (at least for me… some (most) of the time).
It’s usually fear that keeps us at night. The niggling worry that won’t leave you alone, the anxiety rolling around in your mind without permission. Fear pokes holes in our security and well-made plans.
What if this happens?
What if that doesn’t work out?
The key to a good night's sleep isn’t to eradicate fear, because, unfortunately, I think that’s an impossible task. We need to change our relationship with it.
The Psalmist is writing poetically. Living unafraid isn’t a command, or a dogma, or a standard. Being able to sleep in peace is what is to be untouched by fear, “no matter what happens.”
Because fear isn’t all bad. Sometimes, fear has good things to teach us, worthwhile alarms and suggestions we would do well to heed. Like not walking certain paths alone at night. Or stepping out into traffic. Or making a certain decision. Fear and pain are alarm systems. Not monsters, not the devil emotionally incarnate.
Fears highlight something that needs our attention, a closer look, a more careful approach. It reveals our values and the things we deem sacred. So give it a voice, but don’t give it control. When fear takes over, it robs us of peace, and like the psalmist said, a good night's sleep.
In her book “Big Magic”, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a letter to fear:
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously… I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even aloud to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.” (Pg 26).
When we get caught up fearing fear, and fighting fear, and pretending it's not there, we just end up giving it more control. We put it in the driver's seat, and it runs us all over the road.
But when we face fear, give it the voice it deserves (which is usually less than what we actually give it), listen to it with grace, while trusting that there is something good through and beyond this (no small thing, mind you), then no matter what happens, you can sleep peacefully, even while fear throws a toddler-like tantrum in the back seat.
Small caveat before I finish. This is a practice. I’ve spent many years learning, and still am, how to keep my fears from the driver's seat of my life. It’s not as easy as it sounds to pray them away, or to focus on God, or to have faith instead of fear. I feel that those notions do little more than miss the point.
Because the point isn’t to be fearless, but to have courage and peace in the midst of whatever you are facing and wherever you are facing it.