Following a restful Christmas break, we returned to the GOTH manor for work this week. I was so very grateful for the time away that the break provided. It was a time to rest and recharge, and I came back to work ready to do the good work that I have been given to do. Life continues to march on and nothing of particular note happened this week in the life of the GOTHs. As I reflected on what I wanted to write about, I was drawn to reflect on fear and the power that it can have over our lives after reading Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman this week as a part of Education for Ministry (EfM). Although the book was published in 1949, it speaks a truth that is still so urgently relevant today. Thurman describes fear as “one of the persistent hounds of hell that dog the footsteps of the poor, the disposed, the disinherited.” Although his focus is on the marginalized in this book, his insights are applicable for everyone. Fear has a way of leading people to do terrible things. I have known the power of fear in my own life and the ways that it can cause me to do things that dishonor my own integrity and authenticity. What struck me about Thurman’s discussion of fear was not so much that he identified the power that fear can have over us but that he offered a profound yet simple response to it.
Thurman says that the “core of the analysis of Jesus is that man is a child of God.” In the face of the fear of the world, we can find our answers to those most basic questions of identify (who am I? what am I?) in our identity as beloved children of God. My mind turns to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, when the heavens open and God declares that Jesus is his son, the Beloved. We too are called beloved by the God who knows us by name and loves us beyond anything we can imagine. What a difference it makes when we find our identity not in the accomplishments of this world or in our material possessions, but in the simple fact that we are God’s beloved children, called by name and God’s own forever. Here Thurman says, “are the faith and the awareness that overcome fear and transform it into the power to strive, to achieve, and not to yield.”
As we GOTHs begin to consider what comes next for us, it is an exciting to discern what God is calling us to. This time of uncertainty can also be filled with fear and anxiety. I now find myself applying to seminaries in hopes of starting in August. It is an incredibly exciting time, yet the application requirements and looming deadlines can at times be dizzying. As I journey through this process, I am truly trying to rest in God’s goodness and not let fear overtake me. I know that I am God’s beloved and because of that I have nothing to fear.