I’m awake. Unsettled, unsatisfied by my inability to have ink flow on the paper this weekend. Swirling words became twisted and forced by some false attempt at fleeing from fear. I didn’t overcome anything. Least of all my fear. It’s still here, it woke me. I had laid it on an altar and even lit a match to it, but it rose from the ashes only to cling all the more to my velcro nerves.
Is this a test? A test to reveal my wobbly sincerity and pretense? Can I blame it on Leviticus?
The day was almost over so I put on my glasses and began to read my least favorite book of the Bible. I glanced at my husband’s novel in his hands and then at my own sitting on my nightstand and almost reached for it, when something pulled my eyes back to the page…it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. I wrote ‘Jesus’ in the margin, the final Offering. And then continued.
There were burnt offerings, grain and guilt offerings, offerings for fellowship and ordination and sin. The Israelites were sometimes unaware of their sin, but later learned of it, and realized how much they had hurt others and themselves. When they became aware of it, they confessed, like David in Psalm 51…Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love and then made a burnt offering.
Fear hurts me and others. It hides itself well but lashes out unexpectedly. Fear is a fall from grace.
But I took my fear with me to a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. The doctor showed his concern but was thrilled to hear about the other things I’d been doing. Good! He said. I’m so glad to hear it. Now instead of sinking into introspection, I want you to live larger than life and not to stop being a force in this city. I believe, and you believe—we are both believers—you are going to be fine. And then he told me to increase my folic acid. There’s something about taking a pill that helps me believe.
Two days later, I opened up my fear to my husband. I cried. He held me. When I finally fell asleep that night, I dreamt he told me they had turned me down for the film role. They called, he said. You didn’t get the part, but they still want you in Act 4. The fire scene, no lines.
I told Todd about it in the morning and he said, Well, you know, the more days that pass, the less likely it is you got it, right?
Right, I know, I said. Who cares? (Who wants to be rejected?) I was angry at myself for allowing it and felt myself begin to step onto despair’s slippery slope. But I read these words: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? In order to get myself to a meeting that morning, I had to believe that.
I pushed my fear back and stayed busy. And as little wonders began to appear around me that day, my fear stayed hidden.
I opened my Bible Saturday morning and pulled out the card I keep tucked inside the back cover. Inside of the card, I had folded a baggie with tissues of fear. I took it out and held it. I would make a burnt offering of it. Todd had taken bakery to the guys at the car shop. I had time.
It took 30 minutes to burn the little bundle. The fear on my altar put up a good fight. Because that’s what fear does.
A few years before my dad died, he still had one remaining pugnacious fear he wanted to overcome. He memorized and sang to himself the words from the psalm, You are my Hiding Place, you fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid I will trust in you…and then he went on a submarine. No more claustrophobia, he said.
Do I believe You can replace my fear with Your Presence?–and with trust and faith and purpose. Why is it such a struggle when I want it with all my heart?
I remembered my dream then. Act Four. Aren’t there usually only Three Acts…?
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
Leviticus 1-7, Isaiah 43:18,19,