The recent question about how to respond to God when you're afraid is still stirring in my thoughts—I felt called to write a second post about it!
This question is a big stumbling block for anyone seriously trying to grow in the spiritual life. It’s a very key question actually, almost like a fork in the road. Wrestling with this question will take you down one path or another, like Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”
I have had people in spiritual direction wonder many years later about a fork in the road that they took, perhaps without too much thought at the time, and now wonder if that really was their path, or if they missed their Great Call.
I think we ache for complete, can’t-lose-it love. We YEARN for more meaning in life; we HOPE our life will help someone and will somehow serve a greater good. I don’t think we aspire to a small, selfish, safe life. Our soul is too great for that! Sometimes I think we shrink from God’s voice, or avoid conversation with God (prayer), out of FEAR. What will I hear?
Fear in any relationship can choke the free flow of the life force at the heart of the relationship. This is especially true with God. God is not surprised that we are afraid of the Divine Voice. God knows we can’t comprehend the depth and unconditional tenderness of God’s love for us. We have no experience of it—we have had glimpses, but all too often we have sadly experienced the limitations of human love, the inadvertent or intentional slips and slights that leave us hurt, empty, disillusioned, or bewildered. Of course we’re kind of leery about God’s love—and what request God may make of us—or what path may await us in that Divine plan.
Maybe remembering how God HAS talked to us or come to our aid over the years will lessen the fear. Maybe reading what Jesus revealed to us about his Father’s love will reassure us. Maybe watching the fierce, protective, adoring love of a parent with a baby will remind us of the even greater capacity God has for loving us. When you fear God’s call, remember Jesus’ powerful words in the Gospel of Mark when he heals Jairus’ daughter: “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”