Don’t Be Afraid to Be Afraid

Afraid of Fear

He knows it’s a dangerous task. Only his daughter can do it. She’s scared. And he can’t do it for her.

Don’t be afraid to be afraid. We will try to have courage for you.”

The daughter is Meg Murry from the novel, A Wrinkle in Time. Speaking is her dad, Mr. Murray. Only Meg can return to the planet Camazotz and through love, bring back her brother Charles Wallace.

Don’t we want to avoid fear? Maybe we can embrace fun fear (roller coaster rides or mystery movies). But not real fear.

Security or Fear?

Given the choice between security or fear, I’ll naturally choose security.

But God doesn’t always give us the choice between security or fear. Nor is security always the choice he wants us to take anyway.

Sometimes we have to do scary things.

In the Afterword of A Wrinkle in Time, 50thAnniversary Edition, author Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, comments on the book and her grandmother:

“But a planet can also become dark because of ‘too strong a desire for security…the greatest evil there is.’”

I don’t know that it’s the greatest evil, but an unhealthy desire for security is often our idol, a toxic poison that stunts our growth.

The granddaughter follows with this:

“Meg resists her father’s analysis. What’s wrong with wanting to be safe? Mr. Murry insists that ‘lust for security’ forces false choices and a panicked search for safety and conformity.

“This reminded me that my grandmother would get very annoyed when anyone would talk about ‘the power of love.’ Love, she insisted, is not power, which she considered always coercive. To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.

Do It Afraid

If you’ve read A Wrinkle in Time, you know that Meg does return to Camazotz. Even with fear. But armed with love.

God knows we have dangerous tasks, too. Some of which only his daughters can do. Even if we’re scared. And he can’t do them for us.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He sends us this message over and again, “Do not be afraid.”

But until we outgrow our fear, I also think God tells us the same words that Mr. Murry told Meg:

Don’t be afraid to be afraid. We will have courage for you.”

God holds courage for us, when we don’t feel big enough to contain it ourselves. It’s a mystery we can’t explain. It comes from his love.

  • To love is to walk into the unknown.
  • To love is to defy daring.
  • To love is to not be afraid to be afraid.

Perhaps the courage to love is the greatest mystery—and miracle—of all.

* * *

I’ve been re-reading A Wrinkle in Time before I see the (relatively) new movie. Have you read the book? Seen the movie? Please share in the comments.

Mystery is my One Word for 2018. Read more mysterious things here.

35 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Afraid

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Lisa, this is an outstanding post and chocked full of wisdom. I regret A Wrinkle in Time is not something I have read, but my grandchildren have all read it and it is the favorite of my middle granddaughter (17 year old high school junior). So appreciated the great writing here this morning! Have a blessed day!?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Pam. I look forward to sharing books like this with my granddaughter when she gets older (she’s 3-months now, ha). Both my girls have read this book too (actually the series) and enjoyed it. It was fun for me to go back and re-read it. Books usually take on a little deeper meaning when we get more years behind us. But the quest for security is something I still struggle with.

  2. Michele Morin

    We’ve listened to the audiobook as a family (read by Madeleine herself!), and I’ve read the book a number of times, so I’m trying to decide if there’s room in my brain for someone else’s images of the characters before I watch the movie.
    I love the way L’Engle could use fiction to convey strong messages to her readers!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How neat to listen to this read by Madeleine herself! And I understand what you mean about making room in your brain for another interpretation of not only the characters, but of the story itself….it is something to consider. Thanks, Michele!

  3. Joanne Viola

    Wonderful post, Lisa! I am so grateful our God infuses us with courage to step out and do what He calls us to do. For this scaredy-cat, I stand in awe of God who has not let me down yet. I may have been afraid, but He gets me through afraid every time.

  4. bill (cycleguy)

    I read it years ago. Didn’t grab or like it then since it was not my cup of tea and had me totally confused. Have no desire to read it or watch the movie now. Guess I’m unique. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think Jeff read A Wrinkle in Time a few years back with our girls, but he doesn’t remember it now. So it obviously didn’t leave a favorable impression on him either. 😉 Maybe it’s more a girl thing? ha.

  5. Trudy

    Wrinkle in Time is actually on my list of books to be read, Lisa. I have never read it, but it was brought to my attention once by a blogger. It sounds like a great message. What the author used to say about love to her grandkids is so insightful – “To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” I’m so glad God holds courage for us to walk into the unknown, no matter how afraid we may be! Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you would enjoy this book, Trudy. It reminds me a little of “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” in that it can be read and enjoyed by a child, but it takes on a deeper meaning for an adult. And yes, I, too, am SO glad God holds courage for us because I often am afraid! 🙂

  6. Barbara Harper

    I read it as a child and just read it again a couple of years ago, but I have forgotten so much of it already. I don’t remember this part at all, though I may have been impacted by it in the moment. I tend toward security, too, and, like you said, I doubt it’s the greatest evil, but it can definitely hinder one in many ways.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I forgot much of this book, too, Barbara, so it was good to go back and refresh my memory. I know the movie won’t seem as good to me (they rarely are better than a book), but I like to have the book’s content fresh in my mind to compare it too. (So I can be that annoying person who talks throughout the movie…”but THAT wasn’t in the book!” ha)

  7. Linda Stoll

    Lisa, this –>’an unhealthy desire for security is often our idol, a toxic poison that stunts our growth.’

    There’s a whole lot of food for thought in that one sentence. Thanks for going there this week.

    How those idols sneak on in and take a hold of us …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The idol of security is definitely one I have to wrestle down. 🙁 I wish I weren’t such a scaredy-cat, but I’m learning more and more to do things afraid anyway. Thankfully God has enough courage for the both of us. Thanks for stopping by, Linda.

  8. Karen Woodall

    i’ve heard it said that courage isn’t lack of fear, but the decision to act in spite of fear. that’s what we as believers need. We forget that Joshua, Moses, Abraham, Elijah, Esther and basically every other person from the Bible didn’t know how the story was going to turn out so had to choose to trust God even though their situation seemed desperate and tenuous. Instead of being ho-hum about the stories we read in scripture (b/c we do know how it turns out) we need to remind ourselves that the same God who delivered them in spite of their fear, is with us in ours.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Excellent insights, Karen. Thanks for sharing here! You’re right that we have the same God who will be just as faithful to us in our unknown circumstances as he was to them. We don’t have to have the answers; we just need to trust the One who does, and keep moving forward with him.

  9. Karen Friday

    Fresh word again, Lisa. Never thought about not being afraid to be afraid. What a unique way to look at it. And love the analogy to the daughter in the book with us to our heavenly Father. So true, we don’t always have security as a choice. Thanks for this timely message.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      This isn’t something I think about very often either, to have no fear of fear. It reminds me of FDR: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 🙂 I don’t know that that statement is 100% true, but it definitely has a huge grain of truth in it. I don’t want to be afraid of being afraid. Thanks for stopping by, Karen.

  10. Crystal Twaddell

    To love is to be vulnerable; and it is only in vulnerability and risk—not safety and security—that we overcome darkness.” Lisa, I read this post right after reading Deb Wolf’s post on idols, and I know, as a result of my experience last week (written in my post) God is challenging me to consider the issue of safety and security, particularly over my children and whether this has become so important it keeps me chained to fear instead of full assurance of God’s heart. Thank you for your thoughts and challenges here! Praying you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It is so difficult to not be fearful for our children. 🙁 I know that feeling, both when my kids were little, and even now when they are adults. My prayers are with you on this, Crystal!

  11. Brenda

    Believe it or not, I’ve never read A Wrinkle in Time. !! My kids have read it, but I’ve always struggled to read fiction, so I haven’t ever read it. But, maybe I need to give it a try, because I love these quotes. And, I’ve read some of Madeleine L’Engle’s writing books, and love her wisdom. Thanks for sharing, friend. And, thanks for the sweet comment you left for me. Your understanding and encouragement means so much, thank you. ((hug)) I’ll still be writing in that same space, so please pop by as you’re able, and I’ll do the same here. ♥ Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I go through spurts of not reading fiction either, so I hear you on this, Brenda. I read far more non-fiction than I ever read fiction. I first read A Wrinkle in Time with my girls, but this time I read it just for myself. 🙂 I finally read some of Madeleine L’Engle’s non-fiction books only a year or two ago; not sure how I missed them all these years. I’ll be staying in touch with you, Brenda! Thanks again for all you’ve done.

  12. Jean Wise

    In all the reading I’ve done this is one book I never read before. Weird isn’t it? I do love that line about dont be afraid of being afraid. will be pondering that one. Thanks Lisa for such wisdom and insight. I just shared your post with a friend going through a tough time and I know your words will give her hope and strength. You are such a blessing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes even popular books slip through our cracks, yes? 🙂 That happens to me, too, Jean. There are still several classic books that I have never read. I have to come to peace knowing I’ll never finish all the books on my list.
      Praying for your friend!

  13. floyd samons

    This is one we can all relate to. We walk through the valleys. Christ told us we’d have trouble, but He reminds us that He’s overcome this world.

    So why fear what He already knows is going to happen? He causes or allows all things… and yet we fear, dread, become anxious.

    I’ve studied so many verses in the Bible on this very subject and I’ve come up with this; we’re called to fear or revere our Father more than anything He’s allowed to be in our lives.

    Seems silly to dread what sits in the palm of His hand right beside us…

    “Gird your loins”… There’s a time to face fears and trails… and I’m convinced the lessons won’t end until we pass the test…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re wise, Floyd. Thanks for passing along pieces of your wisdom here on fear. I always need them. This is definitely true: “Seems silly to dread what sits in the palm of His hand right beside us…”

  14. Alice V. Walters

    Dear Lisa, I needed to hear this! I’m such a hermit, but have been receiving gentle nudges to mix with other writers more. It’s oh so sweet and comfortable here among my Christian blogging friends, like you, but what about those who may be in a face to face group? Thank you for the assurance that we can “do it afraid” when armed with love. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My natural tendency is to be a hermit as well. I usually am glad when I get out, but if I were left all to myself, I’m ok with that. lol. I pray you’ll have enticing opportunities for face to face meet-ups that you can’t resist. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think this is my 3rd time through A Wrinkle in Time. I don’t know that I’ll read through the whole series again, but I definitely enjoyed this jaunt back through book 1 anyway! If you do read it again, you’ll probably find that it goes much quicker the second time around. It did for me.

  15. Laura Thomas

    I really wanted to see the movie but had never read the book (horrifying) so I bought a copy. My, what a great read! I really enjoyed it and wondered how on earth they would manage to capture its essence in a movie. Turns out they did pretty well! I’m glad I read the book beforehand, otherwise, I think I may have been a little lost ? and as always, I think the book wins! Much to chew on in this story, for sure. Stopping by from #sittingamongfriends

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’ve encouraged me that re-reading the book again was a wise move before I see the movie. My daughter will be out of school in a few weeks (she’s a teacher) and she wants to watch the movie with me!

      I felt so confused when I watched The Lord of the Rings movies until I finally read the books. Books usually do win! 🙂

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