What is your greatest fear?..... What are you afraid of?.....
Do you remember those questions and conversations?
My nephew Grant once claimed that he was not afraid of anything. His older brother Jack quickly reminded him - "yes you are; you're afraid of storms".
Grant, humbly and wisely responded "oh, yea, I'm afraid of storms... and loud noises".
That is the type of man I want to be, carefree enough to forget my fears and wise and humble enough to recognize them when reminded.
I remember being afraid of different things. When I was 12 there was a German Shepherd and some Dobermans that would chase me on my paper route. They scared me. After that, girls, dances, failing at this or that, never getting married, getting married, blah, blah, blah. It is a decent list. Longer than some. Shorter than others.
Recently, I realized that I never really knew what fear is. It is only now in the last few years that I have known real fear. I think that is because I never really had anything to lose. I always knew that my family would stick with me, even if I was a jerk on regular basis. And I knew about eternal families. Combine that with the sense of invincibility that comes with youth and what was there to fear really?
Now that I am married? I realize that I could potentially be a big enough jerk that Molly would say "I've had enough of this". Then there is work: the fear of not being able to provide for my family. We've had some rough times with my employment. It hurts.
And finally Lucy. The other day Lucy was playing on the kitchen counter. She likes to play with the cupboard doors when we're doing dishes etc. I walked away thinking, " she is fine, she knows how to handle herself".
Then I turned and I saw her fall in slow motion. Little by little she slid off the counter. I was moving but I couldn't move fast enough and so I watched her as I ran for her. I heard her head hit the hardwood floor, right as I got there. I scooped her up, just a moment too late. She cried and cried and cried.
I still know that families are eternal. There is no question about that. But I no longer have that sense of invincibility. To the contrary-- it has been made clear to me in many ways and many times just how weak I really am. And now I know that there is no guarantee that Lucy will be safe in mortality. I see the news, and have heard enough stories, the very real possibility [although unlikely] that something could happen is a level of fear that I have NEVER known before. I want to be there to see her grow up. I want her to be a part of my life as I grow old. I want to be a part of her growth. I know she is a part of mine.
Now that that I am an adult, now that I am married I KNOW fear. And I know it intimately.
I understand better than ever just how much I have and consequently just how much I could lose. The stories of Abraham, Job and others, which at one time seemed a little boring to me, I now recognize as gut wrenching beyond belief.
A friend of mine used to say: "Fear knocks at the door, Faith Answers, nothing is there". So that is my challenge. "Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." I just have to remember to bring my faith to the door when fear knocks.
If I recall correctly, once I wrote this, the fear subsided. I now think that the mental process which led to the above paragraphs was part of my preparation for recent events. I am now experiencing what I feared most.
This will sound odd, maybe even wrong, but I feel like my fear was unfounded...maybe because I didn't understand what was at the root of my fears. Maybe because we really are as invincible as we sometimes feel in our youth...just not in the ways that we think.... maybe its that fear in reality is a feeling that we won't be able to handle something? I'm not sure that I have correctly described or expressed this.
However one thing is certain: I can tell you that my trust was well placed. He did not leave me alone, but has sustained me in countless ways. The loss that I feel will be more than overcome by the joy I will feel in a coming day. At the least, with Him we are invincible.