Lenten Blog - Day 20
Thursday, March 15, 2012
“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
I remember when I was first afraid of dogs. I had to walk to and from school as a 6 or so year old by a sewer ravine and I was chased by a large dog. I seemed to recall it was a large Irish Setter; a deadly breed. I think the furious running trying to outrun the barking is at the root of some sort of recurring nightmare. It may have also been my first etched memory of fear—I was in danger, something was out to get me, and I needed to respond immediately to escape. Those are impulses that I’ve felt hundreds of times ever since. Self-preservation intermingles whenever I encounter criticism, go in front of a crowd to speak, and outdoor extreme activity, or face someone from whom I want approval. Now that I’ve entered middle age, thoughts of my own mortality seep into my heart and sometimes I’m afraid. It’s almost like I hear barking.
For men of the sea who make their daily living fishing it, a storm must be par for the course. But for such men to be deathly afraid, well, it must be one perfect storm. The crashing waves over the hull that is quickly filling the boat is worse than an aggressive Irish Settler. Actually, in ancient times, a body of water is not a place of recreation, it’s a place of foreboding. There’s common imagery of the sea representing evil itself—probably to do with people facing death on the sea. So place of foreboding turns tempest and our sense of security is dashed against the hull; it is the sum of our fears. The end of that equation is death itself—everything barking dog, nightmare, rejection, dark alley, is just a trailer to the apparent triumph of evil in death. And God is on the boat, asleep, then calling us out for being afraid.
Perhaps it’s because our agenda is to avoid danger, motivated by fear. All those things in our lives that we’re honest about, for which we put in the place of security. Could I be honest enough to accept that Jesus is talking to me about my own fears? The agenda of Jesus, on the other hand is to quell the storm, not my fears. It’s much more fundamental and global than me. He rebukes evil—and it’s apparent chapter of death—itself. Do I have faith to believe that God is bringing in a New Creation?
I love dogs now. Those fears are in the past. I can’t wait to say the same about the sea around me.