For ten years the Lord has given me chest pains.  A pain that feels as though bands of steel constrict around my ribs.  And today He tells me that the steel bands are the fear we place about ourselves: they hamper us, make it difficult to breathe, and if not treated will one day kill us.

Graham Cooke once said “if you want to fight mediocrity, promote excellence.”  It stands, therefore, that to fight a spirit of fear, you promote Love.  1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.”  But what does a spirit of fear look like?  Because it can just as easily worm its way into our lives without us noticing it, as it can pop up out of the sewers.

The reason I’m thinking about this today, is that two men I respect and consider friends have written very eloquently on men and women of Christ, getting off their velvet cushions. Larry Westfall wrote “It’s an Army, not a Country Club” and Kevin Weatherby wrote “We will sell our lives dearly.”  Both instances are a call to battle.  I got chills running up and down my spine reading them especially the rewritten speech by Col. Travis.  “I now want every man who is willing to fight and die for Jesus to step across this line.”

But I ask, why has the clarion call gone unanswered?

Where are the people who shout as with one voice in response?

Where is the earthquake of God’s footsteps, the thunder of his shadow at the praise of His people?

I hear God say in response, “if people fear to hear my voice in the spirit of prophecy, how much more so will they fear my spirit, my presence, or my person?”

Now the Lord is glorious, He is everything, and He is mighty in a way that blows our little brains.  He is worthy of our fear, respect and admiration but above all else He is worthy of our meager love.  Yet people are afraid to love.  Not because of any inherent fear of the LORD, not even because we fear responsibility or accountability, but because we fear that which we do not understand, and we do not understand our Father.

Our hearts are caged about with fear, a fear born out of a desperate inability to understand or know our God – the God whose ways are as high above ours and the heavens are above the earth; the God who can create and destroy with a sigh; the God who sent his only Son to die.  Our fear has crippled us because it has crippled our capacity to love.

Instead of acting out of love for one another we have begun once again to act out of fear.  Perhaps having once acted out of love, and received love in return, we now fear to lose it.  Perhaps having had great expectations or plans made out of love, we now fear the shape they take outside our hands.  Perhaps having eagerly sought out something new and wonderful for the sake of loving our Lord, we now fear the next new thing will diminish our First Love.  Or perhaps, we truly fear responsibility and accountability.

The clarion calls, the trumpet sounds.  The battle is joined.

We may choose to step onto the field with love in our hearts or to stay behind in fear.  We may step onto the field in passionate pursuit of our Father or we may step out in fear.

This is starting to sound an awful lot like one of those annoying old testament style prophets that just irritate me, and if it irritates you I’m really sorry.  I mean really really really sorry but there are two things that are going to happen soon regardless of how any of us feel about it.  Either

1) we will overcome our fear.  We will recognize when we have operated out of fear instead of love and seek reconciliation and redemption for it.  And then we will really see something happen.

Or

2) Nothing.

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