This past week, as I’ve been journalling and finishing up the last of my schoolwork, waiting for grades, I have kept hearing and feeling an idea about myself. I have opened my ears to hear anything specific from the Voice I know well (and should listen to more!). I have been repeatedly confronted and gently challenged to take a look at the inner climate of my person. I know that the more peace is sitting there, the more healthy my body, mind, and spirit are. I feel I have the confidence to say that I have been blessed with circumstances and principles that maintain peace in my system. I’m not perfect and I’m still growing and learning. But this week I have been challenged to take a look at what I may have, intentionally or otherwise, allowed to unseat peace. Even in a little way, a way that is not a “big deal” but is simply not worth it.
I still felt this gentle tug towards a “detox” of anything that is not a direct fuel for a peaceful atmosphere. Anything that causes resistance, anything that I have a habit of becoming tense or hyper-focused on — these things are easy to step back from. Sometimes there is a need to rebuild and repaint fences of self-control and genuine peace, even for the things that are small. Small things have a habit of building up, and leading to shame over letting them do that to begin with. But the best thing to do is to pause, and take a moment to intentionally fill your inner atmosphere with peace. Click off of the social media post full of complainers and frustrated voices — even if there are things worth being resisted. Take a solid break from anything that you know hasn’t been conducive to peace in your system.
Take a long think about the things you fear. Fear is the opposite of peace — it creates an atmosphere of chaos and discontent and a grumpy face to match it. Fear is something I know to avoid like the plague, to defeat it with light and laughter. I don’t always. I don’t like saying that, but it’s sometimes true. I don’t always immediately turn from the obfuscating voice that insists that there’s SOMETHING to be concerned or worried about. Funny how that voice never tells you what that something is! It never does! It hides and distracts.
One of the things I believe the Lord used to gently guide me toward defeating the ultimate enemy of peace came from a book I finished this week. I read through the science fiction classic, Dune, and enjoyed it very much. It was full of interesting perspectives on human nature, religion, time. But one thing stood out loudly in the book, a repeated refrain from the main characters. There was a sort of code one of the ancient sisterhoods in the story, instilled and taught by a mother to her young son. It was the response to anxiety, hopelessness, and danger. It was how they overcome the enemy that means to destroy them. The great enemy was not the big bad of the story. It was not the dramatic coup or war or epic battles.
It was fear.
The code is long and dramatic, but the gist is represented in the first two lines, one of the most famous quotes from the whole book:
“I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.”
That stood out to me like a lightning bolt, and I even made sure to create a desktop wallpaper that I would look at every time I turned my laptop on. Fear is not a choice we have to make. Fear shuts down our mental processes, our focus, our priorities, our intelligence. I have heard that gently reinforced to me any time I was scared or afraid — no shame, just a reminder of what fear does. It is designed to corrupt the natural impulses that protect us and those who care about us from harm. The chemicals that empower us to run faster and fight harder and think quicker become choked and clouded. Fear is the mind-killer, the strength-killer, the joy-killer.
The author goes so far as to call fear the: “Little-death that brings obliteration.”
It is a weak reflection of a primordial force that should never have entered this world, one that was ultimately overthrown for good by Christ Himself. It does not belong in an atmosphere breathed in you by the Spirit. It does not belong in me. But, there is more than just warnings about what fear is and why to avoid it — this code gives a solution to fear:
“I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”
Fear is beaten when you face it and stare it down as it blows over you and through you, as impotent and powerless as a breeze, by YOUR choice. You choose to face it and beat it. It has no right to make you powerless. It can only make noise as it flows back to the hell it came from. You are a statue of pure stone, unmoved and unchanged by the winds of fear — that’s how you win.
I will permit it. I really liked that part. I have been given the power to do it, and I can do it.
Let it whirl past you like the wind, and let it be forgotten just as quickly. Once it is beaten, if you look back on the path it followed…your fear will be gone. It will vanish like the phantom it always was. The last line reads with a weigh:
“Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Once fear has been given the boot, there’s nothing left but the person you were called and created and saved to be. Nothing but you and Your God.
The enemy to a life and atmosphere of Holy-Spirit peace is fear. Even the arguably agnostic author of Dune saw that fear was something not conducive to wisdom or control, but the opposite of these things. He saw it as something to be beaten with all the force a human being could muster — the enemy that must be overcome. He isn’t wrong, but WE have a far better way to win than just the wise observations of a fiction writer.
The Bible has something more to say to fear. Something that is far more powerful than a science-fiction “code” could ever imagine itself to be…
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“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)
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
I could go on! We should record these, write them on our hearts and minds, on notebooks and refrigerators and sticky-notes. I should. I will. If the Lord says “don’t” and “I am with you” then fear is a response that rejects Him. I never want to do that. Not ever. Why should I, when there is a whole world of total peace and freedom that no government, philosophy, or hole-filling effort can possible give me? One that was purchased for me with an insurmountable cost. The One that paid that price says “Fear not.”
So, starting today, I will “fear not.” I will fuel my peace with the voice of the Spirit, and the Word. I will fuel it with love from and with my family. I will fuel it with joy and beauty and silly dumb internet videos that make you laugh until you cry. I’ll give the mind-killer and the little-death the side-eye and watch it flee like the wind, leaving only me and my God who never leaves me.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)