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Paralyzing fear

August 16, 2011
By PASTOR ROGER LEMKE (Fishers Of Men Lutheran Church) , Pine Island Eagle

With suddenness the storm hit. The high, seething, crashing waves were playing Ping-Pong with the disciples' boat (Matt. 14:24 ff.). The disciples prayed the traditional prayer of every fearful person: "O Lord, what are we going to do now?"

The lightning flashed and to their terrified amazement they saw a figure coming toward them. Thinking that it was one of Neptune's ghosts they were about to jump overboard when the calm voice of Jesus stilled their fearful cries: "Have no fear. Be filled with my presence and you can float over all of your troubles."

It's a terrible thing to be afraid. Fear literally paralyzes an individual. A friend stopped by my uncle's farm when I was about seven years old. He had never been on a farm and so we went exploring. I took my friend to the barn where we petted the cows and horses; we played in the haymow and looked at some sparrow nests. Then I asked: Do you want to see some baby pigeons. "Sure," came the reply. "They're up in the silo." The boy watched me climb the narrow fifty-foot ladder and disappear through the spider webs. He then started his climb. He got up about twenty feet and saw a spider; he looked down and then began to cry. I urged him upward. He couldn't move. I told him to go back down. He couldn't move. Finally, I had to climb around him and take each foot and pull it down to the next rung. Fear kept him from a new experience.

Paralyzing fear! It keeps people at home locked up behind closed doors. There are people who have never seen Centennial Park, flown in an airline, or walked in the Everglades because they are afraid. There are people who quit attending church because their spouse has died and they are afraid of what they might feel or what the spouse's spirit might do. And, there are others who will not start attending church because they are afraid the roof may fall in.

Jesus invites you, like He invited Peter, to walk on water with Him. You carefully put a foot out then the other and you begin to make your way across the waves. Suddenly the wind whips up, a splashing wave startles you, and you begin to sink. Jesus reaches out, catches you and chides you gently: "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:31).

Jesus wants you to walk on water, that is, to overcome all fear by trusting Him. Helen Keller got it right when she said: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it this way: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

God places many of His blessings outside of our comfort zones, and then asks us to come get them. If we ever want to receive some things we've never had before, we've got to do some things we've never done before. Mark Twain wrote: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So, take courage, "Don't be afraid, Jesus is with you" (Matt. 14:17). Take courage and throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover! If Michelangelo wanted to play it safe he would have painted the floor not the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.



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