Category Archives: Fear

Fear – relative

Any of us would be afraid to fly down and around an oval at 200 miles an hour.  That doesn’t faze New Zealander Scott Dixon.  On May 21 he won the coveted pole position for this Sunday’s Indy 500.  He’ll bank $100,000 for that success.

He and friend Dario Franchitti headed for an Italian restaurant in downtown Indianapolis Sunday evening, May 21.  Store closed.  They then decided to find a fast food provider.  They found a McDonald’s about a mile from the fabled Oval.  Closed for remodeling.

Next door a Taco Bell beckoned.  Into the drive-through they wound their way, their windows down, fearing nothing, tough-minded big-time racers that they were.  To all of a sudden be accosted by two teenagers with the great equalizer.  A pistol shoved against Dixon’s head brought the surrender of wallet and cell phone.  Keeping his cool—he was sure he and Dario kept their cool—he obliged.  And off the criminals rushed.  (They were arrested soon after.)  San Diego U-T, 5/23, 24/17

Dixon later reflected on his close call with a lot worse fate than being robbed.  He and Dario wore expensive watches, which the thieves didn’t know.  Dixon was glad nothing “silly”—his word—happened.  Nothing silly?  Not dangerous, wicked, lethal?  A tough man.

Yet he admits it made him feel small.  Falling from pole-position to robbery victim would have that impact.  It would reduce one from being invulnerable to feeling defenseless.  It might even encourage the toughest guy to keep his car windows up and his doors locked.  It would certainly teach him to be aware of his surroundings at all times, especially at night, especially in an area of a city plagued by crime.

Speaking of fear.  If having a pistol held to your ear gets whatever the thief wants, what will it be when each human dies and stands before Jesus Christ for judgment?  If the gun would force quiet compliance, how could we imagine we’ll have any voice at all when God Almighty opens the books to the page with our name?  The man in Matthew 22:12 warns us:  don’t plan on talking your way out of trouble when Jesus looks down on us.  Even the saved won’t speak then.  The unsaved will certainly be tongue-tied.  Only Jesus will speak.  And what will he say?  “Well done”, or “I don’t know you”?  The saved will then find their voice and Praise the One who loved them and gave himself for them.  The lost will then scream unavailingly as they’re cast out, that Jesus doesn’t understand, to please let them explain, that they didn’t really mean any of the things they said against him, blah, blah, blah.  Too late, too late.  For the unsaved, who will continue forever shouting their innocence, too late, too late.  Don’t be one of them! 

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Fear – everyone knows….except

A very humorous Marmaduke cartoon appeared in our San Diego U-T, May 11, 2016.  The unbrave Great Dane quivered behind the open front door as his mistress saw a stern-looking German police dog standing at the threshold.  Not the police officer at the door, but the “in-your-face” German dog.  The mistress could only turn to her pet with a plaintive, “Now what?” had he done?  Something finally drove the fun-loving, crisis-creating hound to fear.

It isn’t hard for most of us to reach that point.  Jenny Lind reached it when standing on the stage of the Vienna opera house.  She suddenly felt that not even her voice could fill that empty space.  Only the intercession of a singer-friend calmed her.  Enchanting Jenny Lind, 228-229

Marie Antoinette reached it when the peasants in charge of her trip to execution led her outside to…a garbage cart, not a coach.  She squatted in horror, then continued her ignominious trip.

In his story The Denunciation, Hemingway wrote about John the Greek talking with Mr. Edmunds.  John had dived into Magallanes harbor only to find a monstrous octopus.  The creature stood on its tentacles and looked the diver in the eye.  He jerked the cord to be hauled up.

He explained to those aboard the boat what he had seen and that he would never go down there again.  When someone assured John that the octopus was more afraid of him than John of it, he replied, “Impossible.”  Short Stories, p. 424.

However, a remarkable disconnect exists in human fear of God.  However much people fear Islam or its terrorists, the unstable economy and its portents, the loss of jobs or Chinese economic hegemony, or the approach of death, few fear God Almighty.  Most stand behind HOPE when God approaches, as in “Hope he’s merciful.”  Few stand behind Grace, assuring his compassion.

What will be our FEAR?  Of God in Christ, which gives  us confidence against whatever; or whatever we seek as our refuge, which invariably turns into broken, leveled walls, exposing us to a growing fear of life?

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Discipleship – enduring needs mental conviction; Crisis – rousing strength one didn’t ordinarily have; Fear – empowering action

In the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October, 1862, wounded men were being evacuated while battle raged and artillery shells burst around the ambulance corps in the rear.  (Rebel artillery and infantrymen often overshot their targets, doing more damage behind the lines than to font-line troops.  Perryville was but one, and Gettysburg a notorious, example.  While infantry ducked behind the stone wall at the Angle, Meade’s headquarters suffered considerable blasting by rebel artillery.)

At Perryville four men carried a stretcher on which a grievously moaning, wounded, crying trooper writhed in pain.  While in transport, a rebel “shell burst close by”.  The carriers scattered leaving the wounded exposed to more harm.  But not for long.  When he found himself deserted, he raised to an elbow, still moaning, looked around and, instantly forgetting his pain, jumped to his feet, ran after, and soon passed, his carriers.  Behind the Guns, 39

 

The Perryville experience echoed that of the Indiana captain in the December, 1862, battle of Stones River.  So disabled by rheumatism he had to be helped when mounting his horse, he plodded slowly to the front.  Yet, when bullets flew, and young Federal soldiers led the retreat, who but that same captain would bolt from his horse and start running, soon catching and as instantly passing the younger men.  This Hallowed Ground, Bruce Catton, 193

In a crisis, children have been known to lift a car off a wounded parent.  Soldiers have found the strength to lift deadly ordnance on ships and carry it overboard; or man a machine gun torn loose from its moorings in a plane.  In death-threatened experiences, hardened sailors have sworn faith and made explicit vows to God Jonah 1:16.

But do not count on crises to empower persevering discipleship.  While they rouse power from emotion, from the release of adrenalin, when the crisis passes and emotion subsides, the person usually returns to his accustomed life.  Persevering discipleship comes from a mental decision to commit to Jesus Christ as LORD, GOD ALMIGHTY…whatever.  Only that resolve will keep one faithful to him when life, circumstances and troubles call one to quit.