Last Friday as the afternoon unfolded and we set our sights on the weekend, a story about an American Airlines flight cropped up on news outlets everywhere. A plane had been grounded at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport following an incident that sent two flight attendants to the hospital, and led to the arrest of one as well.

I happened to be on that plane.

Since that day, the media have cobbled together the details of what transpired so I won't rehash much here. In short, a flight attendant took over of the PA system as we taxied toward the runway, warning passengers that we were going to crash, babbling about American Airlines' bankruptcy, and instigating chaos and confusion. She was eventually removed from the plane after being restrained by several passengers.

For my own narration of the events you can read my personal blog, but what made the situation particularly frightening was the lack of communication from the pilot. We later learned that he could not hear the PA system, but his unresponsiveness to the flight attendant's pleas led us to believe he was hijacking the plane.

In retrospect, we now know that we weren't in immediate danger—the problem was the flight attendant alone—but for a brief time, my husband and I were in survival mode. We faced the possibility of an emergency exit from the plane, and we considered what might happen if the plane took off. We feared serious injury or even death. I feared for the baby growing inside me. I feared for my family if something terrible happened to me.

All of those thoughts raced through our minds as we responded to the crisis before us. The phrase "gripped with fear" could not have been more appropriate. I felt suffocated by terror as I tried to compose my thoughts and think clearly, to think faithfully. But the fear seemed stronger.

Since that experience I have given a lot of time to reflect on it. I have wondered at the number of passengers who photographed or videoed the flight attendant as she was dragged off the plane: Have social media become an irresistible reflex of human behavior in our culture? I have marveled at the calmness of the passengers who could have snapped and mobbed the crew, but instead worked together to subdue the flight attendant and handle the situation with care. And I have thanked God that we did not leave the ground before the madness erupted. It could have been much worse.

But the main source of my reflection these last couple days has centered on that gripping fear. As a Christian who believes in Jesus and the eternal life he offers, I know where I'm going. Intellectually speaking, I have no reason to be afraid of death. In fact, I should welcome perfect reunion with my Creator. Why fear it?

And yet I didn't face my mortality with the courage and anticipation that my theology would imply. Despite Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15, I quivered before the sting of death. That response has been troubling to me.

Throughout the Bible, the phrase "Do not fear" appears 35 times. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God did not give us a spirit of fear, and countless other passages reassure us that God's faithfulness should give us peace. He is in control, He is good, and death does not have the last word.

It is because of passages like these that I have never had much use for fear. I've always considered it a wasted emotion. Years ago, I resolved never to make decisions based on fear because it is so often an enemy of wisdom. Rarely is fear a speaker of truth.

That is why my response came as such a surprise to me. My emotions were blatantly disobedient to my beliefs. As I spoke truth into my heart and mind about the faith I professed, the fear was unmoving.

In reflecting on this further, I remembered that fear is not always an antagonist in Scripture. Fear is described in a positive manner when the context is fear of the Lord. In contrast with all other usages, this particular type of fear is equated with confidence, hope (Job 4:6), and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).

These two different accounts of fear indicate that fear is not entirely a wasted emotion. It is only a waste when expended on powerless objects. There is no use fearing the lions that have been declawed in Christ.

The fear of the Lord is also the antidote to all other fears. Unlike most fears that incapacitate our actions and lie to our hearts, the fear of God is awe-ful, safe, and true.

All of that to say, fear should never be allowed to take up residence in our hearts. There is no room for fear of the Lord and fear of the world to coexist. However, that doesn't mean we should silence our fears altogether. I am quite sure that our fears tell us something deep and true about our souls. Once we get past the initial lies often embedded in our fears, we must dig deeper to the spiritual gaps they betray.

For me, my fear revealed an attachment to my life on earth and a deeply held belief that this world is indeed my home. Regardless of my theology and my intellectual allegiances, there is clearly more heart work to be done.

While I hope to be in that situation never again, I am grateful for the ways that God is redeeming it. He is using my fear to teach me about myself and where my confidence has foolishly been residing. I may have known this all along, but all the books in the world can't rival the heart knowledge that comes from experience. For that I praise God.