MANY OF US FACE TIMES when fear tries to take over. But I've found that no matter how serious the circumstance, God, our Father and Mother, is always available. No matter how dire a situation may seem, God's love never fluctuates, and our love for Him and our fellow men and women actually acts as a powerful force, shielding us from harm.

Keeping my thoughts in line with God's "perfect love" has always helped me get rid of fear. According to the Bible, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18). And I've found it doesn't necessarily matter what the fear may be—fear of heights, of not finding a job, lack of money to pay the bills, sickness, terrorism, or concern over what might happen to the environment—love can bring stillness, a noticeable calm.

It doesn't necessarily matter what the fear may be—love can bring stillness, a noticeable calm.

Jesus understood how to master fear, and put this knowledge to good use. The Gospel of Matthew recounts a time when Jesus walks on the water, moving toward his disciples' boat. When they become alarmed, he tells them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid" (Matt. 14:27). Peter decides to walk out to meet Jesus, but as he looks around at the wind blowing and the waves splashing and churning, he falters, becomes afraid, and begins to sink. He may have felt that Jesus was placing them both in some very real danger! But Jesus reaches out and lifts him up.

Jesus proved that God's law, the natural spiritual law that sees no limitation, no fear, could supersede material laws which said it was impossible to walk on water. Jesus proved that spiritual substance was the only true reality. And when Peter trusted this, he, too, was able to walk on the waves. For me, this Bible story represents the idea that fear dissolves when we realize we're subject only to the laws of God, of Truth, Life, and Love.

Many years ago, I had an experience in which turning to God brought calm right in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation. While I was in the US Navy, the ship I was assigned to was supporting a group of marines in Vietnam. The ship had to go in closer to them so that we could provide as much protection as possible. The captain decided to take us partway up the mouth of the Mekong River. We were in a destroyer escort whose job is normally to protect aircraft carriers against submarines at sea. As we traveled up the river, the tide went out, leaving us unable to maneuver our way back out the river. We would have to wait until the next morning when the tide came back in. It seemed we were "sitting ducks," a prime target for the enemy. The captain posted guards along the outside deck. Fear of an underwater sneak attack, under cover of darkness, was great.

With time to pray before my next watch, I turned to God to release my thought from fear. I remembered comforting verses from the 91st Psalm: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ... his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. ... There shall no evil befall thee, .... he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Ps. 91:1, 4, 10, 11). My prayers led me to the simple, yet profound, conclusion that there really was nothing to fear. Of course, we took practical steps to protect ourselves, turning our radars on to pick up any distant movement on the water. But the certainty that divine Love, God, was right there protecting us all was, I felt, just as practical to know and hold on to. And I did continue to pray as I went about my evening duties.

Soon, a change came over the men in the sleeping quarters, and someone even began to sing. We all joined in. Those who were going on watch outside the ship didn't seem as afraid. Many of the men began to play chess or other games, and soon all was peaceful. All over the ship the fear had subsided. Talk about sneak attacks stopped. I'm sure that the prayers of many on board had brought that collective calm. Early in the morning, the tide came in. Our ship sailed out into the gulf and was safe.

I love something Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896. It helps us learn to put fear in its place. "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven" (p. 113). |CSS

This article first appeared on spirituality.com.

August 31, 2009

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