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Shields Up?

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“Deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Heb. 2:15 ESV

Martha gave this passage to my church body several weeks ago, and I’ve been really wrestling through what it means to have “fear of death.” I’ve had fear of many things but I didn’t think I feared death. In dealing with this verse, I felt there was also a connection between pride and the fear of death that I wasn’t seeing. So I did a word search for “fear” on ReadMK.com and found the following quote in an article called “Faith in Fear” from the Faith Is article series:

“The secret core of all dread is this: the chilling fear of death.  That innate fight for life, the fierce motive of self-preservation – this is the hidden root of fear, its power to smell danger and scramble to survive even if it means surrender of the soul’s freedom.”

I’d never seen anyone connect fear of death with “the fierce motive of self-preservation.” This has become one of the most impactful statements that I have ever read. That statement stuck with me and I reflected on it for a few days. Then I felt I should do a word search for “pride” and I found a statement from “The Crisis of Fear” in The Hour of Our Destiny article series:

Fear-unconfessed hides under pride.  Insidious superiority and mean belligerence becomes the iron shield of hiding fear against all Love and Truth.”

My pride has many faces: jealousy, anger, lying self-preservation, not wanting to hear the truth about myself, and many more. But pride shields me from having to see the bigger issue, that at my core I am tremendously fearful and fiercely self-preserving. I will innately choose slavery to fear and bondage to lies so long as I feel/think that I can maintain some degree of control. I will shield myself from both Love and Truth, all in the hopes of maintaining control. I put up my defenses so that I didn’t have to look inside and see pain and be vulnerable. If my shields are up, I don’t have to deal with the pain of childhood, my failures or my hatred. I don’t risk being hurt by a loved one, and I don’t need to repent, revealing the broken, vulnerable man I am behind my shield of knowledge.

If I lower my shields and examine my heart, the remaining question is: “What is the source of my pain?” When I answer that question truthfully, the source is the deep-seated bitterness I have towards God for allowing pain into my life. My shields hide the pain I prefer not to deal with – the risk of being hurt, the brokenness of disappointed love. At its very core, my pride hides me from my heart’s hatred of God. It hides the fearful, self-preserving nature of my wicked heart, a heart that prefers slavery to fear over surrendering to Love.

So I asked myself, “Why lower my shields and wade into the untamed waters of the heart?” The answer? Every lie is exposed and uprooted, no matter how wicked, and is then replaced with God’s uncontrollable Love, becoming a place of worship.

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