Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fraidy Cats

What are you afraid of? What really scares you? When I was in college my roommate, Curt, had an ape suit. Boy, we had some fun with that. Curt would suit up and hide in closets, under beds, in bathroom stalls, any place unexpected. You might be surprised how many big, tough college guys will scream like a girl when suddenly confronted by a menacing gorilla. Having a big ape around made life in Eaton Hall much more fun for all of us.

Fear is a strange thing, isn't it? It can startle and amuse. It can surprise and thrill. It can even inspire and motivate. Fear has value for us, we know. There's a good reason why we are wired to react and respond to any perceived threat. Fear moves us to fight or flight, to put up our dukes or skedaddle. No wonder fear is part of our emotional standard equipment. Where would we be without it?

Yet, we all know that fear has a dark side. Rather than protect it may poison our lives. Rather than motivate and move us in a positive direction, fear can disorient and immobilize. Fear twists our logic and distorts our reasoning. Fear shackles and enslaves. Fear blinds us to everything good and true in our lives. Fear can drive the sun from the skies, leaving us wringing our hands in the darkness.

If there is one emotion that permeates our culture these days, it is fear. Unbridled fear has become the driving force of our age. Our cultural mindset seems fixated on the worst case scenario in every context. In a world running desperately short of peace and security, some kind of doomsday seems inevitable. Faith and hope are for the naive, those who refuse to face the grim realities.

So, let me ask again. What are you afraid of? Here's a little checklist.
  • being embarrassed or humiliated
  • being weak, helpless, defenseless
  • being a victim
  • being forgotten
  • being a failure
  • being rejected
  • being alone
  • illness or disease
  • pain, suffering
  • losing a loved one
  • unemployment
  • poverty 
  • people of other races
  • homosexuals
  • the government
  • economic collapse
  • total anarchy
  • war
  • zombies
  • dying
  • eternity
Why is it so difficult for us to be honest about our fears? We are all just a bunch of fraidy cats, trying our best to muzzle and manage our fears, but still shaking in our boots, still wondering where that big gorilla is lurking, ready to pounce.

We might do well to stop and ask ourselves how many of our choices and decisions are motivated by our fear rather than our faith. And speaking of faith, just what kind of God are you counting on? You big chicken. God is not just some rabbit's foot in your pocket. He's the One, the Big Guy. Let me remind you that God is not sitting on His throne wringing His hands, wondering how everything is going to turn out. Ultimately, no matter how determined we are to make a mess of things, God is still calling the shots. And, believe it not, despite all evidence to the contrary, the end of the story will be a happy ending. No more tears. Joy unspeakable.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:10 NIV

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV

1 comment:

George Flanagan said...

It's a brief transition from fear to fatalism, and I think fatalism signifies giving up. Too many fatalists managing our world these days . . .