With the robbery and poisoning of our guard dogs last week, we have been feeling a bit on edge lately. However, I should add, we have recently discovered some unconventional ways of venting our frustrations. For instance, we have sort of made a sport of fly-swatting some of the 150 gazillion flies that get into our house every day. In fact, our new favorite pastime is trying to see who can get the most kills (of flies that is) in the shortest amount of time. The other day Paula got two flies with one swat (really, she did!), after which we were both so elated I was tempted to gallop around the dining room table while shouting “Reap the whirlwind, Reap the whirlwind.” But I refrained, lest Paula have me committed.
The thing is, we are still a little frightened over what happened and at night we wake up every time a truck drives down the street or the wind blows against the house or one of us sneezes. The problem is that each time one of these things takes place, I think it’s a burglar and I hop out of bed and start peering through the blinds like some deranged drug addict (being a former deranged drug addict, I know well their propensity for peering). Then, when I realize that it was just a truck or just the wind, or just some other very common and non life threatening thing, I climb back into bed but never really go back to sleep. Instead, I start thinking about what might happen if one of these burglars did return, and what if they actually got in the house but then I think no there’s no way they could get in because we have bars on the doors and then I think well they could cut a hole in the roof and come in that way or they could take the guard hostage and demand we that open the door or worse demand that we give them the keys to the house and the car and then what would we do?
But this is what fear does. As a Zambian pastor put it, “Ahhh. That fear is from the devil. God, He brings faith. But him (the devil), he brings fear.” And I think he is right.
I mean some fear is good for us. For instance, its good that we fear things that could potentially harm us, like hot burners or clowns. After all fear is what causes us to approach those thing with the proper degree of caution. I mean, you should think twice before agreeing to anything with someone who wears a red ball on their nose.
But fear can also paralyze us, and that is not good. Fear can cause us to become timid and overly cautious to the point that we become unwilling to ever take chances or to even trust people or attend the circus. I had a great aunt who because of some bad things that happened to her early in life, hardly ever left home. And life shouldn’t be that way! Fear can wrap us up in a blanket of ineffectiveness and isolation, causing us to shy away from the things we are called to do, and away from the people we are called to do it with.
Even Paul’s admonition to Timothy reminds us that debilitating fear is not from the Lord: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Tim. 1:7 NKJV).
So, I am reminded that God has given me a sound mind – to help differentiate between my wife sneezing and a guy trying to break the door down, love – in order to know that not every Zambian is out to get me, and power – to continue smacking flies with great effectiveness.
This morning during a time of prayer and fasting, we were doing a responsive reading out of one of our hymnals (with me being “worship leader” and Paula being “everyone”) and part of it was a verse from the gospel of John.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
And one of us (I’m not going to say which because of said person’s great adeptness with a fly swatter), couldn’t decide whether to say “afraid,” or “fearful” – so she split the difference and said “nor let it be afearful.”
We both howled and laughed a good belly laugh such as we hadn’t had for a long time. And we discovered again what a wonderful thing it is, to not be afearful.
Note: We have also found great relief from our fears in the comforting and encouraging prayers and notes from all of you, our family, friends and supporters. Hearing from all of you has wonderfully reminded us of what a large and loving family we are all a part of.