by Gary Dyksterhouse
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” - Frank Herbert, Dune
One of my favorite series of books is the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Attempting to condense the 6 books into a sentence description is impossible, but in a very limited sense, the series is focused around the hero figure of Paul Atriedes, a young commoner who rises to a central figure in the galaxy. As Paul overcomes various trials, he repeats the above quote mantra over and over in his mind. By performing this chant, he is able to find his courage, to calm his fears, and act in the face of certain or perceived danger.
Our world is full of fear. We fear our president. We fear the government. We fear political parties. We fear strangers. We fear nations. We fear people with different viewpoints. We fear someone is going to take our guns. We fear people with guns. We fear people with different amounts of melatonin in their skin. We don’t need an excuse to fear. We do it naturally. We fear that our kids won’t amount to anything. We fear that our spouse won’t love us if he or she knew the truth about us. Most of all, we fear death.
While I would not recommend Dune as a course in theology, Frank Herbert was right when he said that ‘Fear is the mind-killer’. It is impossible to reason when gripped by fear. We are forced into two responses: fight or flight. Instead of logically dealing with our problems we viscerally respond with fists raised or run as a coward into the shadows. The problem with Herbert’s advice on how to deal with fear is that in the end, it gives false hope. It claims that once fear is gone, ‘Only I will remain’. But there is a reason we all fear. It is because we know that life can be too much for us at times. In the end we know that we have no power over a vast majority of the things we fear, and we certainly have no power over death.
There is only one being who ‘will remain’ and that is God. He has always been and will always be. He creates and He destroys. Herbert tells us to put our hope in self, the Bible instructs us to put our hope in God.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine’.” – Isaiah 43:1
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
We do not have to fear because we have a God who loves us. We do not have to fear because we have a God who saves us. We do not have to fear because we have a God who is interceding for us right now, and longs to spend eternity with us. When your next moment of fear comes, and it will come, instead of attempting to overcome it on your own, or instead of attempting to let it pass through you as Herbert suggests, allow the fear to pass on to God. Give the fear to his son Jesus who faced death on a cross so that we would never have to fear again.