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Faith & Worship: Will fear control you?

“You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:5)

I really don’t like snakes! Don’t get me wrong, I think snakes are really cool. I love reading about snakes, and watching YouTube videos of snakes, especially black mambas; however, I am really afraid of snakes.

Now, some of my golfing friends, I won’t name names, laugh at me, because I won’t go into the tall grass to look for my ball. One friend in specific said, “I’ve been playing golf for 35 years, and I’ve never been bitten by a snake. How can you be so afraid of something that has such a small chance of happening?” 

I said, “Well, that’s easy, because my nightmares are much more vivid than reality. In my dreams the tall grass is teeming with poisonous snakes waiting to bite me and swallow me whole. In reality there is only a small chance that there is a snake in the grass over there, but I can’t see through the grass. The unknown is a powerful hallucinogen.”

“Well,” he said, “you’re the craziest person I know, and that’s not a compliment.”

In our lives, fear grips us and controls us in many ways. We know that we shouldn’t be afraid of so many things, but our nightmares and fantasies override our knowledge of reality. It is easy if we leave our fears unchecked to ride the crazy train all the way to the last stops of anger, bitterness, and self-delusion.

Much of the Bible is actually a tonic against living our lives in fear. Jesus says over and over again, “Fear not.” The fact is that every human being will die. Most of us will die in ways and places and times that we did not choose. Much of what happens in our lives is beyond our control, and Jesus knows this.

Yet, Jesus keeps asking the disciples to follow him in spite of their fears. Ultimately, Jesus takes the disciples to Jerusalem and the cross. They have to face their ultimate fears: death, torture, humiliation, and the seeming loss of a dream.

The world is covered in tall grass, and it is easy to let our fantasies of what might be in the tall grass control us. Jesus’ mission, though, will lead us directly into the tall grass, and he will tell us, “Fear not.” The question isn’t really about whether or not snakes are in the grass; rather, the question is whether fear will control us and determine whether we have the courage to follow Jesus.