Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Pentecost 8
July 19, 2015
Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
(1 Corinthians 16:13, NRSV)
So we had our little toad over to Dutch Wonderland on Saturday. Had a great day. It reminded us of our trips there with his mother and Uncle Justin twenty-five years ago. At two-and-a-half, he couldn’t go on the Kingdom Coaster, but was tall enough to go on the kiddie knock-off version called Joust Family Coaster. I got to take him the first time. Although he couldn’t verbalize his feelings, obviously, he was nervous and excited all at the same time. We took our ride, and as we started down the exit ramp Sam tore away from me and ran down the ramp as fast as his little legs would take him, screaming as he got close to his parents. When he got to his mom and dad I realized it wasn’t fear that had grabbed him, but sheer joy. As I caught up, I could hear him saying, “Sam go again with mommy!” And it was clear that his fear had been overcome by his excitement. He rode the coaster a couple more times with mom and dad, before we started for home.
Later in the day, I found myself thinking of the ways that I approach things that make me anxious or afraid. While I don’t generally turn tail and run, I am not quick to embrace those opportunities, either. I sometimes allow my anxiety to give me pause as I consider options … I talk myself into believing that the bit of fear I feel inside is a healthy sign of caution … and I assure myself that the uncertainty I experience is a warning sign to not move forward quickly or haphazardly. All of these responses, of course, result in delayed responses, and occasionally no responses at all. And so I found myself wondering what it might be like to approach my fear like a two-year old – to just dive into it, enjoy the rush of the ride, and not let the tickle in my stomach prevent me from facing the experience. I suspect I would have some missteps and get burned a few times, and probably on occasion inadvertently hurt someone else in the process. But I also think about the wasted time I would eliminate from my life, and the ability to attend to some things that I have avoided for a longer time than is healthy.
What do you do with fear, I wonder? How do you handle it? What are the resources upon which you draw? Where is God in the mix? Maybe sometimes my prayer should be more one of a request for courage than a desire for wisdom. Maybe sometimes my plea to God should be one for decisive action instead of for discernment. When I spend time with people, I find that many conversations make a stop at the “fear and anxiety watering hole.” I also find that those stops that others take, stir my own experiences in drawing water from that well. Maybe I’ll try to pray for other approaches this week and different way stations. Maybe you can try the same.
Disturb us, Lord, when, we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. Amen.
— Sir Francis Drake