A friend of mine loves scary movies – that is, sometimes. She has a tactic she uses when they become too scary. She pushes the mute button, maintaining that if she can't hear the suspenseful music, the spell of fright is broken. Then she can regain her composure and get back into the movie to see what happens without being afraid.
But the fodder of scary movies – the fear of the unknown – is now prevalent in everyday life. In airports, in major "target cities," even in our public schools, the possibility that unseen, lurking evil could strike innocent people at any moment for no apparent reason has many of us on edge. Do we have control over this sort of fear?
Recent terrorist plots in London alert us to be unrelenting in our prayers for a truly civilized civilization, a world where reason, rather than reaction, reigns. The ability to establish calm and extinguish fear that would immobilize wise action is essential. And it is available right now to each of us.
The Bible feeds my prayers on this topic. It repeatedly counsels, "Fear not." In fact, I've just counted well over 100 times that the Bible instructs the reader not to be afraid. It's been helpful to regard these short, explicit statements as commands, rather than recommendations. It gives me something to obey, to do. We are not helpless.
The most peaceful and fearless man to have ever lived, Christ Jesus, made a statement, then gave an instruction to his followers: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
The "let not" gives us an active part in ridding ourselves of fear. It requires some discipline by implying that each of us has dominion to be used through not allowing our hearts to be troubled or afraid. We don't have to play out the fears that come our way. We can exercise spiritual authority and poise. This not only helps us. It helps everyone we encounter. We contribute to the mental atmosphere with our thoughts. As we are prayerfully proceeding in our lives, others perceive our fearlessness. Jesus told his disciples to "freely give" (Matt. 10:8). One of the things we might consider giving today is a steady sense of dominion over fear.
A book I read to further understand spiritual dominion is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper in 1908. She, too, when addressing readers, attributes to them great dominion. She wrote, in what could be considered a correlative statement to the passage in John, cited above, "Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious – as Life eternally is – can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not" (p. 495).
One time, when reading that sentence in a fairly unsettled frame of mind, I realized the author was giving me instruction and was simultaneously telling me something quite wonderful and new. By using the phrase "your clear sense and calm trust," she was attributing to the reader these qualities.
I didn't have to get this clear sense or calm trust; they are established possessions. This gave me new confidence to claim the spiritual identity that belongs to all God's children, and this conquered the fear. God made man and gave him "dominion," as stated in chapter one of Genesis.
And what do we do with this God-instilled calm? We live it. We can go about our lives knowing our dominion over fear because God's love is right where fear appears to be. We can expect good and encourage others to be spiritually courageous.
Nothing breaks the hold of fear like deeply settled calm based on God's goodness and presence. It is natural to feel this. We don't have to stay riveted to a mental screen of fright. We can switch to our dominion and our fearless being.