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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: Scared

Humans have limits.  There are only certain things we can accomplish on our own.

As great as we think we are, God is greater.  At some point in our lives, we must come to the conclusion that we cannot do it all and cannot know it all.  “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,” Paul of Tarsus writes, “and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” ~ I Corinthians 1:25

When we finally realize this, the secret of divine action which covers our every weakness will be unlocked.  And fear is conquered forever.

Everyone gets scared from time to time.  There are things which frighten us all.  And there are some things which frighten only some people.  Fear is a part of life.

The transition moment from fear to faith for God’s people occurs as Jesus enters the situation.  The storm is raging.  When Jesus walks up, there is no more storm.  

Time after time the scriptures record God’s people who are afraid.  Standing on the banks of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army bearing down on them fast, the people of Israel are terrified.  Moses stretches out his staff, God parts the waters, and they walk through on dry land.

In a storm on the Sea of Galilee, hiding in the upper room for fear of arrest, and even when they see the risen Lord before he is recognized, the disciples are afraid.  When Jesus arrives,  that fear disappears as they trust in him.

We can be prisoners of fear in our own thoughts.  Fear of what might be wrong.  Fear of the future, which is only uncertain if we think we have to live it without God.  A slight shift, letting God take charge of every scary thought, makes a big difference.

A father asks his young son if he says his prayers every morning.  

“Yes, Dad.  Every morning.”

“Do you pray at night?”

“No, Dad.”

“Why not?” says the father.

“I ain’t sceered at night!”

The key is prayer, communication, accessing the power of heaven in good times and bad.

When we walk with the Lord all the time, everything looks the same.  If it is good, we celebrate it together.  If it is bad, we can handle it together, or he gets rid of it; his choice, not ours.

Sometimes it helps to look at the difference between religion and faith.  Religion can become man’s empty attempts to reach God.  Faith, especially in the Christian arena, is a daily walk with our living Savior Jesus.

Bonnie Raitt, a talented musician who has been through many difficult times, wrote, “Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell.  Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”

We can agree that tough times build strong faith.  Every time we walk through fear or difficulty, we cannot help but grow in faith.  In fact, those who have had the most difficult times are sometimes spiritual giants among us.

We can take the term spirituality a bit further, to see it not as the search for human contentment or peace, but as a walk with God himself.  We find freedom from fear, and turn it into a positive thing.

Henri Nouwen saw the spiritual life as “that constant movement between the poles of loneliness and solitude, hostility and hospitality, illusion and prayer.  The more we come to the painful confession of our loneliness, hostility and illusions, the more we are able to see solitude, hospitality and prayer as part of the vision of our life.”  

Let us lift out one of his thoughts, solitude.  A choice to be alone with God in meditation and prayer, is a wonderful thing.  Loneliness, the same moment, handled differently, is the opposite.  And fear, its polar opposite is faith.

All of us will experience fear.  Sometimes we must travel with it when we are on the way to doing great things and before it goes away.  John Wayne, a consummate movie cowboy, said, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.”

We ride when the stampede threatens our livelihood and life.  We ride when the gunfighters are coming to town to settle things.  We ride off into the sunset after great things have happened.  But never forget this, we continue to ride.

There is an important shift after which we might continue to have fear at times, but it can never consume us.  It can be illustrated by moving one letter in the word scared.

That shift is clear and unmistakable.  When we move that one letter, the letter c, the word scared turns to sacred.  The fear turns to faith.

It is that sacred (connected with God) world where fear disappears and people walk together in faith.  It is in that world of the sacred where bread and wine become a sacrament of worship.  It is in that holy world where we acknowledge our dependence upon God that our walk with him becomes the most important thing. 

Scared to sacred.  A slight shift which changes everything!