- Pick up our family, leave everything and everyone I love behind to move all the way across the world for Christ? Frightening.
- Open my mouth to speak God's precious Word to groups of women when I feel so horribly sinful and inadequate? Frightening.
- Get in a long metal tube and fly way too high above solid ground and way too far out over vast horizons of water several times a year? Totally frightening.
There have been smaller frightening things too.
- Let my small children ride all the way across Manila, unbuckled.
- Have large groups of people over for dinner.
- Allow our teenagers to ride around the block on their bicycles unaccompanied.
- Eat unusual food.
- Get out of my comfort zone.
- Take my children to the Grand Canyon.
- Let him make decisions.
The list goes on and on. So many things frighten me because--like you--I relish control and those are things I have little or no control over.
When my kids were smaller, one of their favorite things to do was play "mattress" with Daddy. All four little bodies would scramble onto a twin-size mattress on the hardwood floor and then he would wrench it from side to side while they tried to keep their balance. It sounds so mild when I describe it. But--really?--four little bodies on one slip-sliding mattress? There were giggles and screams and howls and owies every time, but the screaming would always dissolve into pleas of "More, Daddy, please?"
And I couldn't handle it.
Every time I watched it, I was sure that we would lose a child.
It got so bad that they would make me leave the room (and preferably the house) before they would start their little game.
Okay, so now you know the dirty truth: I'm a worrier. I can't help it. My mind is flagrantly creative, imagining horrific results to a hundred different ifs in any given situation. And it doesn't like to keep to paths of light and sanity and reality. No, it likes to venture into dismal valleys of fear and meander around, gaping at the fearsome scenery.
Which is exactly why I need I Peter 3:6.
It took me years to understand why that verse was there and what it means.
I understood the submission in verse 1, the respect in verse 2, the whole concept of adorning in verses 3 and 4, and the hop back to submission in verse 5. (I may not adequately live it, but I understand it and do my best.) But then in verse 6, out of nowhere, we bump into a whole new topic that is seemingly unrelated: fear.
Which left me scratching my head in puzzlement for a long time, until one day I realized that "not be afraid with any amazement" could also be translated as "do not fear anything that is frightening."
Suddenly it clicked.
How many times was submission challenging to me, not because I didn't love my husband and respect him, but simply because I was afraid of the possible result of submission?
You know those moments when God opens your eyes and gives you a whole new perspective on life and (more particularly) your sin? That was one of those moments. Submitting to my husband when I was on board with his agenda was easy. The test of my submission was whether I would willingly submit when I feared something that was truly frightening.
And that was when I finally understood why Sarah was the posterchild of submission. Her husband asked her to do some really wild and wooly stuff. Abraham may have been a patriarch, but he was also a man and thus a sinner.
Try to imagine. . .
- Following your husband into strange lands when you know he doesn't know where he is going. (Hebrews 11:8)
- Leaving one of the most modernized cities of your day to live in a nomad's tent. (Hebrews 11:9)
- Carting your nephew and his whole entourage around with you and putting up with all the squabbles it entailed. (Genesis 12:4)
- Pretending to be your husband's sister because you are so beautiful that he fears being killed over you. (Genesis 12:10-13)
- Becoming the latest addition to the harem of a foreign king and knowing your husband is too afraid to bust you out. (Genesis 12:14-16)
- Grieving over your barrenness and knowing that your husband firmly believes that he will have a child. (Genesis 11:30, 15:6)
- Overhearing a heavenly messenger tell your husband that you, though barren and old, are about to become pregnant. (Genesis 18:9-15)
- Laughing to yourself behind a door and then trembling when that Heavenly Messenger looks at you with omniscience in His gaze and asks you why you laughed. (Genesis 18:15)
Many things happened to Sarah that could have frightened her.
In reading about Sarah's challenging life, I can see that many of my fears are, in comparison, shallow. (Not to mention, often far-fetched.)
But there was one other little gem of a verse that impacted me. While I tend to fret about the future, the godly woman of Proverbs 31 laughs at it (verse 25). The only fear in her heart is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 31:30). Apparently, the fear of the Lord has the power to knock away all other fears.
When we as wives truly fear the Lord, we can live fearlessly, even when it comes to submission to our own husbands.
My goal, since I have come to understand these verses, has been to fear God and reverence my husband without fear of the results. In other words, "Fear fearlessly."
I fail often, but I live with that mission.
Does the thought of submitting to God or your husband scare you? Will you join me in trying to fear fearlessly?