“Holy” Fear

Being a pastor is amazing. I love it. I love the relationships, the places people invite me into, the moments God moves and I get to be a part of… I love so much of it!

I don’t love Saturday nights. Many Saturday nights are restless for me, full of bizarre dreams (my personal least favorite: my teeth turn to liquid as I’m preaching and I swallow them!?!).

This past Saturday, I didn’t have any dreams, but I woke up scared. In church, we tried something new (at least for me). We worshipped in a circle, there was no big band or flashy lights, the sermon was prepared but preached off-the-cuff and we spent more than half the service packing “blessing bags” to keep in our cars for those we see around us on the streets in Charlotte.

This was a service that was carefully thought through, but many parts could only be known once they happened. As a pastor, this made me a little nervous. What if it doesn’t go well? What if no one wants to participate in the hands-on portion? What if the acoustic music doesn’t feel right to anyone? What if I get up there to preach and my teeth melt, or more likely, I just forget what I felt led to say? What if…

I woke up nervous but I had the strangest sense of calm too. I’ve reflected on this feeling and have come to think of it as a “holy” fear. I’m aware that 1 John 4:18 says, “… perfect love drives out fear” but my love isn’t perfect. God’s love is perfect but I’m still working on it.

“Holy” fear to me is where I think God often shows up. I would guess that most who considers themselves to be a person of faith have some sense of following the Mysterious. There is something about Christianity that asks us to move beyond where we are comfortable, to follow God into the unknown (unknown at least to us).

So many Sundays I feel good. I think to myself, “the sermon is prepared, the service is well-ordered, everyone knows their role, we’ve got this.” So where is God in that? Of course, God comes into our plans and makes them better and fuller and more meaningful. But sometimes I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t feel a little more nervous about what is going to happen. Maybe that fear means I’m leaving a little more space for God to come and move in ways I can’t fully prepare for. Maybe that fear means I’m trusting God is going to do the heavy lifting and I need to trust whatever that looks like is good.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t use our gifts of intellect, organization, preparation, etc. I am saying that maybe we should allow a little more space for “holy” fear in our lives.

Where might God be calling you to take a risk? Where might God be calling you into the unknown? Where might God be calling you to trust that just because you don’t know every detail of 2019, that isn’t a bad thing? Maybe a little unknown is just what God has been looking for to come in and move you, change you, transform you.

I pray you feel peace, love, joy, confidence in who God is in your life. I also pray for a little “holy” fear in your life. Leave a little room in your praying, loving and serving. Leave a little room. Sit with the fear. Who knows, it may just be holy.

Grace & Peace, Pastor Cole


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