Devotion: Power of Love and Self-Discipline
June 9, 2020
God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (Second Timothy 1:7)
Phobialist.com is a collection of the names and descriptions of more than 500 fears that a man named Fred Culbertson has collected and organized. Among the unusual fears he lists:
Peladophobia: fear of bald people
Geniophobia: fear of chins
Aulophobia: fear of flutes
Paraskavedekatriaphobia: fear of Friday the 13th
Entheraphobia: fear of mother-in-law
Pteronophobia: fear of being tickled by feathers
I did a little research on what exactly “fear of chins” means and found that it is “not the fear of a developing a double chin, but the fear of looking at and touching the body part, whether it's your own or one belonging to a stranger.” That would be hard if you have to shave! Fears can control us in strange and often sad ways – imagine the beauty lost in not experiencing the sound of a flute because you are fearful of it. Phobias are nothing to make fun of – many of us have them. But beyond phobias, I can certainly think of ways my fears have kept me from experiencing the beauty of life. I was very shy as a child, timid and fearful of people. That made my world very small in terms of building friendships – it kept me trapped for the longest time.
Paul in his letter to Timothy is writing from prison with words of encouragement. Timothy had good reason to be afraid with the suffering Christians were undergoing. But the spirit of fear and timidity is not the spirit God gives, Paul says to Timothy. If he let his fear of what could happen to him control him he would not be able reflect the Spirit of God to others – a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline.
Why self-discipline? Because it takes discipline not to allow our mind feed on fear. It takes constant redirection back to the faith that God gives us the power to face our fears and not let them dominate our lives. Not that this is easy. And sometimes our fears overwhelm us so much that we may need medical treatment to stop our mind from hanging on to them so tightly because the chemistry of our brain gets out of whack. People of great faith need medical treatment at times because we have physical bodies that sometimes don’t work right. But medicine alone is not enough. When we can take each fear and place it in God’s hands and leave it there, we are free to live into God’s power and love. Since we tend to take the fear back, we may have to put it in God’s hands again and again until we don’t grab for it anymore. This takes discipline and patience. It takes prayer. It takes trust. It takes hope. The promise is empowered life freely lived in God’s love.
Prayer: Gracious God, let us give to you all that binds us again and again, so we can live fully as your people. Amen.
Devotion provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels