Fearing the Lion

LIONFrom my earliest childhood memories there has been one emotion that has dominated all others.

Fear.

F-E-A-R.

FEAR!

It seems that I grew up afraid of everything. I mean, I wasn’t just afraid on my first day of school. I was terrified.

I was afraid of making friends, afraid of being beat up by enemies, afraid of competing in sports, afraid of being kidnapped, afraid of experiencing some calamitous end to my life. It didn’t help that I had an active imagination.

My parents wouldn’t let me watch scary movies when I was a kid because, if I did, I couldn’t sleep. And if I couldn’t sleep, they couldn’t sleep. I would sometimes sneak and watch movies from the doorway of my room, only to regret it when the lights went out..

One night, I watched Custer’s Last Stand  and Frankenstein from the doorway of my room, only to have a vivid nightmare. I ran through the house screaming, convinced that an angry Indian was chasing me with a hatchet.

I wouldn’t understand until the fourth decade of my life that underneath my multitude of fears there lurked a shadowy, unnamed, ultimate fear.

I was afraid of the Lion.

The God-Christ figure in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories is a Lion named Aslan. Although I couldn’t name my deepest fear for most of my life, looking back now I understand that I was scared to death of that Lion.

I believed in the Lion, professed my faith in the Lion, prayed to the Lion, tried to obey the Lion. But I could not shake the nagging feeling that God wasn’t pleased with me. At best, I thought He was disappointed with me. At worst, I thought He was angry with me.

As it turns out, I think that by serving the Lion I was unconsciously trying to appease the Lion. I was religiously keeping that Lion at a safe distance. After all, He’s not a tame Lion.

My fear operated under cover until the Lion decided to flush it out. When He brought me face to face with my deepest fear, let me tell you, that was terrifying. But in order to approach the Lion in trust, I had to walk right through my terror of Him.

The Lion spoke to me not too long ago and shed some light on my history. As the kid who grew up afraid of everything, I locked myself behind the door of my heart in order to keep everything that frightened me on the other side of that door–especially that dangerous Lion.

But I couldn’t keep Him out.  Even though I wasn’t aware of His Presence, He had been right there with me, standing guard over my life.  Now He wants me to live a new way–in the awareness of His company. He wants me always to know there’s a Lion in the room.

I learned from experience that C.S. Lewis was right. The Lion isn’t safe. But He’s good.

Have you ever been afraid of the Lion?

13 thoughts on “Fearing the Lion

  1. I think I could’ve written this post. I struggled so much with fear as a child/teenager/early adult. It wasn’t until my senior year in college that I realized that all of my fears were out of one Fear–the fear of God leaving me, of being disappointed in me, of punishing me. I didn’t trust God. This revelation changed my whole life, and I waded through months of crippling fear as I tried to learn how to trust God. But there has been much freedom as He has helped me come so far and faced many fears. He is a Lion, and He is not tame, but He is good.
    Thanks for the illustration. It’s very beautiful.

    • I think could’ve written your reply 🙂 Except the part about you confronting your ultimate fear in college. You’re an early bird. I’m encouraged for you. I know what you mean. I didn’t trust God either. As uncomfortable as that revelation was for me, it was the beginning of a journey of healing, new intimacy and, as you said, learning trust. Thank you for your comments, Teryn. I love hearing you tell your redemptive story, so I hope you keep telling it.:-)

  2. Wow, Dave. You put fear into focus. I’ve definitely had fears in my life. Most revolved around my own rejection issues from childhood. It took me decades to work through that, and every now and then, it still pokes its claws into my thoughts and tries to tear me up. I have learned to turn my thoughts to Jesus. The other thing I learned about dealing with this fear was that I needed to come to the place that, even if I never had close friendships (not including my husband, who’s amazing), would I look to Jesus as Enough. He asked me, “Am I enough for you?” I had some things to work through before I could honesty answer, “Yes.”

    • Your story reminds me that we never leave our pasts behind. We drag our pasts with us wherever we go until we begin working through the things we’ve experienced. As you indicated, it can take some time. Jesus’ question to you, “Am I enough for you?” is always an important question and one that is particularly applicable to me right now. Thank you so much for your good input into this discussion.

  3. So Jeanne and I met today at Panera. Part of our conversation:
    Jeanne: Dave’s posts are so profound. All of them.
    Me: (Silence and a lot of nodding my head.)

    This is no idle flattery, Dave. It’s a sincere thank you for how you pour your heart into your writing — and for sharing your insights with us.

  4. Wow. Stunned silence over here. You are very welcome. It is no exaggeration to say it is my pleasure to share these things and it is also beneficial to me. I’ll have to thank whoever it was who encouraged me to do this. Now, what was her name… 🙂

  5. Dave, great post and truth. Thanks for your continued transparency and genuineness (?genuinity). Thanks for being a trustworthy brother. Moving forward is often a fearful direction, since we only see our next step, but as Aslan shadowed the children in one of the Narnia books, He kept them safe.
    Blessings, Rob

  6. Uh, i think its “genuosity” but I’m not sure. You wouldn’t happen to know a good editor, would you? i am sincerely grateful for your comments and even more thankful for your considerable contribution to my own spiritual understanding. It’s easier taking that next step when walking with a faithful brother and spiritual companion like you,

  7. Great post Dave 🙂 Fear has definitely played an unhealthy part in my life over the years and still does when I choose to take my eyes off Jesus and focus back on myself. A bit like Peter trying to walk on water – as soon as he started focussing on the wind and the storm instead of Christ, down he went. There’s plenty to be fearful of in this world, but I’m learning that the only fear I should have is holy fear of the very One who created the heavens and the earth and yet knows me by name. A recent John Piper devotion that my wife showed me sums it up well I think. Here’s the link if you get time http://dsr.gd/15U9q2m
    Thanks again for the privilege of sharing the journey with you.

  8. Hey, Graham! Thanks for checking in with your comments and with your meditation recommendation. You are so right about having a singular focus and one holy fear–the fear that draws us in, as Piper put it. The big dog makes a big point about having the right kind of fear. I am thrilled to walk with you, brother. Stay in touch!

  9. I still waver on this one – is God good or punishing? Intellectually I know he’s good. Emotionally, it depends on the day, what’s happening, and how afraid I feel. I’d like this question to be put to rest once and for all. Thanks for a post that helps with that.

    • I know what you mean, Kim. I remember a good friend telling me about his trials–“it feels like punishment.” It really does sometimes. I used to think I needed to use my intellect to reason with my heart and persuade it to believe the truth about God’s character and His intentions. I’ve changed my opinion on that. Although I need to employ my intellect to affirm and cooperate with the truth, my heart needs to be addressed directly–especially when it comes to wounding. I’m sure I’ll be writing about that soon.

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