“Fearing the Right Thing”
It is not that we will never have fear. There is some kind of psychological term for THAT disorder. To not fear is a recipe for disaster, it is not healthy, proper, right or good. Having no fear leads to harm. Just try living a day without it. It was one of Ben Roethlisberger’s mistakes on a motorcycle. One moment, one car, one mistake almost cost him everything, and the roar could be heard around the world.
Yet there are times when those who appear to have no fear are celebrated. A firefighter runs into a burning building to save a child. A soldier, against all odds, captures a machine gun that is killing his fellow soldiers. A parent marches into the principal’s office to defend and champion a child’s education. A passing motorist jumps into a lake to rescue a stranger, though he cannot swim. Heroes, we call them. Subconsciously, we think, “They must have no fear.” Not true. We may think we are applauding people because they have no fear.
In reality, we are applauding the courage that we see, not the lack of fear that we perceive.
Interview those heroes. What do they say? “Afraid? I was scared spit less! I thought I was going to die. I’ve never been so terrified in my life. I don’t know how I overcame my panic, but I HAD to do something.” What are they saying? “I was MORE afraid of what would happen if I did not do something.”
It was not that they had no fear, it was that they feared something even more than the obvious, in their face, what we see kind of fear.
TRUTH: We will fear. Thus, we have to decide what we will fear most, because THAT will determine what we do.
When I was about 7 my sister and I were playing on the playground at our elementary school. I climbed to the top of the monkey bars, looked down and froze. I was scared spit less. I had just enough spit to cry out to my sister, 6 years old, “Bobbi, go get help. I can’t get down.” Oh, where is Lassie when you need her? Timmy didn’t know how good he had it!
Being the caring sister, she just stood there. Smiling. Didn’t get help, run for home or even show empathy. If I remember correctly, she laughed that evil, younger sister laugh. At that moment we heard it, “THE WHISTLE.” Everyone in the neighborhood knew, “THE WHISTLE,” heard for blocks and hated by dogs, dad’s signal for the Shaffer kids to get home and quick. It was never explicitly stated what would happen if we didn’t get home quick enough, but my imagination had conjured up all manner of torture. I can picture neighbors standing at their doors, watching to see how quickly frightened little legs can move. “THE WHISTLE” struck fear in my heart as little else. I’m alive today because I answered the call of “THE WHISTLE.”
Meanwhile, back at the monkey bars. One moment I was paralyzed, pleading for my sister to get help. The next, hearing “THE WHISTLE,” without concern for safety or thought of method, I climbed, no, flew down, and was running the block back to the man whistling. Did circumstances change? No. Was I miraculously infused with climbing abilities? No. Did I suddenly have no fear of heights? No, I still hate them today. It was an autopilot, internal decision, because of what I feared most. Just as the firefighter, soldier, parent and motorist, I realized there is something greater to fear. From somewhere deep inside I decided I would rather risk breaking my neck than having my dad wring it.
PRINCIPLE: What we fear most will determine what we do. Without exception. So what do you fear?
This is what Jesus was talking about when He said,
4“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill the body; they cannot do any more to you. 5But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill people and then throw them into hell.” (Luke 12:4-5, New Living Translation)
We will always have fear. That fear will control our actions. If we fear God more than all else, other fears will submit. If we truly believe that He alone controls our now and our eternities, then we will not allow those things to control us. Even monkey bars or whistles.
So what do you fear? What you do when you don’t have time to think reveals it. Not what we say, sing, or claim in our controlled moments, but in moments of danger. Only God deserves that place and only by giving it to Him will we find what we really want.