Charlie Brown goes to Lucy for a nickel's worth of psychiatric help. She says, "Charlie Brown perhaps you have hypengyophobia, which is the fear of responsibility."
Charlie replies, "No."
"Well, perhaps you have ailurphobia, which is the fear of cats, or maybe you have climacophobia, which is the fear of staircases," Lucy says.
Charlie says, "No."
Exasperated, Lucy says, "Well maybe you have pantophobia, which is the fear of everything.
Charlie says, "Yes, that's the one, that's what I have I'm afraid of everything!"
Sometimes we act as if we are fearful of everything: We are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of people. We are afraid of the future. We are afraid of the past. We are afraid of life and we are afraid of death. Apparently, humans are very fearful creatures and we are in need of faith to function properly in the world.
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. He had never been on a farm so I took him exploring. We petted the cows in the barnyard, and the horses in their stalls. We went into the haymow and looked at the eggs in some sparrow nests. Then I asked if he wanted to see some baby pigeons. "Sure" came the reply. "They're up in the silo."
He watched as I started climbing the 40-foot ladder but when he got up about 20 feet he saw a spider; then he looked down and began to cry. I urged him upward, but he couldn't move. I told him to go back down, but he couldn't move in that direction either. 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 a Broadway play, or Cayo Costa, 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. And there are others who will not start attending church because they are afraid the roof may fall in.
Jesus spoke to His disciples and therefore He also speaks to us: "Take heart do not be afraid" (Matt. 14:27). Almost 100 times scripture makes the announcement: "Do not be afraid." These are usually the first words out of an angel's mouth. Abraham, Moses, Mary, Joseph, shepherds tending their flocks, the disciples rowing their boat in a storm, Paul sitting in a jail cell, the women looking for Christ's body at Easter, all hear these words: "Fear Not."
The greatest waste of our natural resources is the number of people who paralyzed by fear never achieve their potential. Therefore, "Take heartdo not be afraid," and remember if you think you can't, you won't. If you think you can, there's a good chance you will.
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."
Therefore, fear not and aim high!
Roger Lemke is pastor of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, 10360 Stringfellow Road, St. James City. For information, call 239-283-1170.