Posted by: Jack Brown | February 21, 2012

Casting Out Fear

“Fear is the path to the dark side…”–Yoda

Twenty years ago if you had told me they’d be releasing a Star Wars film in 3D to theaters, and that I wouldn’t care a bit, I would’ve thought you mad.  But that was before (*whispered fearfully*) the prequels.  While nothing will ever take the luster out of the original trilogy for me (Ewoks and all), you can bet I won’t be running to the theater to catch the first couple of episodes in all of their 3D mediocrity.

I’ll say this, though…I think George Lucas may have stumbled into a rather profound truth with the above quote from The Phantom Menace.  The full Yoda quote (for you non-scifi types out there) is “Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”  There is great wisdom in that little green guy.  The idea that fear is what sets on down a very dark path is one of the truths I’ve been sitting with the past few months.

As I said in my last post, one of my earliest memories is of the terror I felt whenever the janitor from my school was near.  I’m realizing now that the fear I encountered then has shaped so much of my life ever since.  Over the years I have struggled with depression and anxiety in various doses, and most of the time I would blame it on the circumstances I encountered at any given time: a horrible boss, financial pressure, stressful relationships…you name it, I blamed it.  But the thing was, even when I dealt with the circumstances (either by change, departure, or therapy), the lingering darkness was there.  Actually, it was more than lingering.  It was crippling.

One of the most profound moments of the past few months was when my wonderful Christian counselor encouraged me to picture myself as a young boy, hiding behind that pillar at the school, running down the hallway to escape “the closet.”  She asked me how I felt about that young boy, and the sense of sadness and loss was thick in the air.  But then as I talked about it, I slipped in the way I spoke of what I saw.  I said, “When I was hiding behind the pillar at the church.”  Not “the school.”  “The church.”  And she wisely pointed out my slip.  That opened the door for me to talk about the fact that although I am nearly 40 years older, I am still that young boy.  I am still hiding.  And I am still haunted by fear.  Fear that has impacted my family, my job, my relationships…fear that definitely led to the “dark side.”

I wonder how many of us are struggling with darkness that we attribute to our circumstances, when instead the primary need is to name the fear that opened the door to it in the first place?  Name it, then seek healing from it.  And you may ask, “Where does the healing come from?”  That’s a good question, especially this time of year.

In the past few weeks, as I have learned more and more what it means to walk in freedom and grace, I’ve noticed something very interesting.  I often wake up with songs in my head, and then they stick with me through the day.  Sometimes that’s not a good thing, but lately I’ve noticed that the songs I wake up with and have in my head are songs that focus on a common theme: the love of God.  Songs like “And This is Love” and “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”  On top of that, the love of God has been a topic that keeps coming up in conversation, and as I read Scripture and prepare for Sundays.  Then it struck me: a verse I know well but had yet to apply to what I’ve been processing.  It’s 1 John 4:18–

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

All my life I’ve been wondering how to escape the fear, escape the darkness.  But what I’m learning to live is that the only way to escape the darkness is to run towards the light: the light of God’s love.  That is where fear is cast out, that is where true freedom lies.  And how wonderful to be rediscovering this truth at a deeper level now–at the beginning of Lent!  The next few weeks are all about the love of God shown in Christ’s sacrifice.  And now I see more clearly where that is meant to lead–to the place where we are “made perfect in love.”  To see that as my journey now–running to something instead of away–is a huge shift for me.

If you think about it, all of this relates to another thing George Lucas actually got right in Star Wars.  Because in the end (SPOILER ALERT, THOUGH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN “STAR WARS” WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?), it’s the love of Anakin for his son that drives out the dark side and become the place of redemption.  And to George’s credit, he did set up that theme nicely in the prequels.  Hmmm…maybe I should go buy a movie ticket after all.

Oh, wait…Jar-Jar.  Forget I said that.

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Responses

  1. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

    I don’t ever remember reading that verse with “fear has to do with punishment”
    Cool!

    Beautiful picture, about running toward God instead of hiding from punishment.

    Really like this, Jack!!


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