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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

FEAR

The polar opposite of faith is fear. Fear freezes out faith making the
soul impenetrable to its better nature. Fear can more easily incite
attention by falsely claiming "reality" versus "dreams". Fear asks
that you just look at the so-called facts of the situation. Fear will
demand either defensive or offensive action with justified force.
Faith requires vision, inspiration, and determination and may require
action that is forgiving, generous and creative.

If anyone has been following the recent series on P.B.S. "The
Roosevelts, An Intimate History" you may have had your faith renewed
as I have by inspiring messages found in each episode. The fourth
episode tells of Franklin Roosevelt's struggle with polio. Here's a
strapping 6'2" healthy man living a privileged life without a care in
the world when he is suddenly struck down and his legs begin to
wither. Little was known of polio at the time so its victims lived
with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of how quickly their bodies
would deteriorate. Fear of how others perceived their affliction.
Each episode explores what could have defeated them individually and
what courage it took to face their "demons". The fourth episode ends
with FDR having overcome his own fear and creatively challenging the
reality of his withered legs to "walk" to the podium to deliver his
inaugural address as our thirty-second president. Knowing one can
either be crippled with fear or be challenged by it, he addresses a
nation crippled in fear and hopelessness of the great depression and
challenges the nation with his famous words: "The only thing we have
to fear is fear itself". What a victory of faith!

Fear breeds corruption insisting on every man for himself. Fear is the
clarion call of evil. Fear justifies taking up arms rather than
extending a helping hand. Fear builds fences and impenetrable walls
rather than breaking down barriers to shape community with a vision to
do the impossible.

Fear can be useful. Walking out on plank over deep waters without
knowing how to swim incites fear, and reasonably so. Using this fear
to learn how to swim builds wisdom and confidence. If one does not
face fear head on and make it useful for learning, for courage, then
it robs a person of the possibilities and righteous pleasures life has
to offer.

Faith is most empowered when the impossible, the unseen, the unknown
is before us. Abram as an old well-established man could have no idea
what would lay ahead when asked by God to leave all he knew of his
world, all he had built up, and all he accomplished to journey on a
promise. Jesus would rebuke Peter when he headed for Jerusalem to
certain death and disgrace. What faith our own forbearers had to leave
their homes and seek a new land with barely a dream of a better world.

Faith and fear are indeed polar opposites. Fear is ever practical,
ever reasonable, ever protective of what is now and predicts the worst
for the future. Fear is easy to explain. It is an ever present emotion
meant to caution us and therefore protect us. Faith can appear foolish
and not very sensible. You can grip fear in your hands but faith
requires open hands, imagination and unreasonable confidence. Fear is
in control. Faith is letting go of control and requires trust.

Training our souls to be attentive to faith which is strengthened by
trial. Such souls lead us to create history filled with exploration,
inventions, and creativity never seen before its time. Trials can
darken the soul to hate, violence and war. The choice is always ours.

Even those who would mock our religion can have incredible faith.
Those who would claim religion as their strength can succumb to the
temptation of fear corrupting their souls. Faith is forged like gold
in the furnace that can be fueled by fear. Fear however can only
harden the heart to be cold and brittle. Again, it is the choice we
make. What stirs us most? What moves us to action? Fear or Faith?

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