Category Archives: Fear

The Everywhere God

There is a character in the classic work Don Quixote named Pancho Sanchez. Pancho Sanchez hangs in fear from the ledge of a window all night long, too frightened to let go. When morning dawns he discovers his toes are only an inch off the ground. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and he wanted to join Him. Matthew’s gospel tells us, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ It’s amusing to think of Simon Peter climbing out of the boat trying to imitate his Lord by walking on the water. Then, like a cartoon character, he makes the mistake of looking around. “What in the world am I doing?” he asked himself and suddenly he begins to sink.

Abba Doulas, the disciple of Abba Bessarion said, ‘One day when we were walking beside the sea I was thirsty and I said to Abba Bessarion, “Father, I 8-9-17---Pic-1am very thirsty.” He said a prayer and said to me, “Drink some of the sea water.” The water proved sweet when I drank some. I even poured some into a leather bottle for fear of being thirsty later on. Seeing this, the old man asked me why I was taking some. I said to him, “Forgive me, it is for fear of being thirsty later on.” Then the old man said, “God is here, God is everywhere.” ‘

—-Coptic sayings of the desert

Pancho Sanchez, Peter and Abba Doulas have something in common, – their fear ruled them. The character Pancho feared the unknown ever though he was quite safe. Life works that way. We have countless numerous fears that are unnecessary. These fears cause us to hold on and suffer in our ignorance.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That was the type of fear that Pancho was facing. He was holding so tightly to fight a danger that wasn’t real. When the sun came up, the light of the morning assured Pancho that there was really nothing to fear. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the light…” We could be saved from untold number of fears if we would allow the light of Jesus to illumine our lives.

Peter had been a follower of Jesus from the very beginning. His enthusiasm and sometimes stupidity was legend. There was absolutely nothing that Peter wouldn’t try. This story finds him confronted by the scary sight of seeing Jesus walking on the water like a ghost. Naturally, Peter being Peter, wanted to join Jesus. After a few steps into the water, the reality of fear came crushing down and he sank. That is the way it is for most of us. We get really excited about our faith and being brought to earthly reality causes doubt to begin its rule. We sink from the excitement that could only come from heaven and fall into the despair of the earth. We are overcome by fear but we have an out. When Peter said to Jesus, “Help me” Jesus did so quickly and brought him to safety. The message is, we can’t walk on water but we can count on Jesus to carry us to high ground.

The desert story tells us of a young Monk of the desert who went to his mentor with a difficult situation. He was walking in the desert sand on the seashore and became overwhelmed by his thirst. This land is arid and hot and a drink of water is a lifesaving event. Hapless and helpless he asked his master for some help and he was told to drink sea water. Anyone who lives near the ocean knows that drinking sea water will not quench your thirst but lead to your death. The faithful monk drank the water and miraculously it was sweet. It was a miracle! The young monk being fearful of becoming thirsty tried to store the miracle by collecting more water. His fear was that God would not continue to deliver him in the future, so he decided to make plans to deliver himself. God is always with us and we should never try to bottle a miracle out of fear.

8-9-17-Pic-2

The key to overcoming our fear is to have faith in the everywhere God.


Prayer

Lord help me to be aware of your presence and your promise to provide for me. Allow me the strength to turn to you in my time of need. Allow me the humility to be dependent on You from day to day and not try to build up reserves for myself. Your blessings are sufficient for today, and tomorrow’s blessings will be sufficient for tomorrow. May my life be lived in this day by day faith.

Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Desert Fathers, Fear

Hero Journey

There is a general pattern to the hero journey – the quest of the hero into unknown realms, the powers that he meets there and overcomes, the stages of his crisis of victory, and his return then, with some boon he has gained, for the founding of a city, religion, dynasty, or whatnot; or, on the other hand, his failure and destruction.

—Joseph Campbell

Where have all the heroes gone? Somehow it seems that there is a tremendous shortage of real life heroes in our world – the type of people who take risks for others, face danger, fight evil and most importantly, win! We yearn for someone or something to look up to and feel secure. The greatest motivator in the 21 st century is fear.

Super_HeroesThe most common headline tells us of the failure of some leader or celebrity who had brought hope to their followers. Perhaps that is the reason that Hollywood has a fascination with the “super hero,” hero’s so powerful that they can’t fall. Sadly, such people don’t exist. I truly wish they did. Life would be so much more pleasurable if we knew who to call for the challenges we face. Today it might be Green Lantern, tomorrow Spiderman, but at least we would have someone to call. Joseph, the mythologist, gives us a very good pattern for the journey of a hero.

Heroes are not born, but rather, they evolve. The journey of every hero indeed begins with a quest – a drive or vision that sends them out of their comfort zone. They are driven to be bigger, better, and at the same time, selfless and humble. Perhaps the reason we have a hero shortage is that we don’t value the things that make a hero. Our children are not taught to take risks, or to put others before themselves, rather they are taught to be cautious and self protecting. Campbell’s words give us a great pattern for a hero, and if we dare model them or teach them, the world could be a better place.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fear, Joseph Campbell

Taking Sin Seriously

He also said, ‘The nearer a man draws to God, the more he sees himself as a sinner. It was when Isaiah the prophet saw God, that he declared himself “a man of unclean lips.” ’ (Isaiah 6:5)

 ——-Abba Mateos of the Desert

 These are great words coming from the wise monk. We should take to heart the notion that closeness to God gives us a greater awareness of our inability to live the life of perfection. With this awareness we open ourselves to the abundance of grace that God sends our way, and to a better understanding of our neighbor. In the acceptance of our own sin, forgiveness of others becomes more natural. As long as we hold on to our own pride and power, we will never fully experience the presence of God.

1 Comment

Filed under Ascetics, Commitment, Contemplation, Desert Fathers, Fear, Isaiah, Sin

Precious Gift

G. Campbell Morgan, the noted British preacher of an earlier generation, once told a true story out of his own life that makes the point. Word came to him one day that a woman in his community was in dire circumstances. It was a desperate situation. She was a widow with three small children and she had run out of money. She was about to be evicted from her home. Dr. Morgan’s heart went out to her. He told his congregation her story and they also were moved to compassion. They took an offering for her and the people were amazingly generous.

Dr. Morgan was thrilled by their response and he couldn’t wait to go over to the widow’s home to present her this gracious love gift. He knocked on the front door, but no answer; no one came. He went around to the back door and knocked even more loudly, but no one came to the door. He shouted through the windows on the side of the house, but still there was no response. Dr. Morgan was so disappointed because he had this wonderful lifesaving gift, but no one would come to the door to receive it.

Later, that afternoon the widow called him. Someone had contacted her and told her about the purpose of the pastor’s visit, so she called him and said: “Oh Dr. Morgan, I’m so sorry I was inside the house all the time when you were knocking and calling… but you see, I didn’t come to the door because I was afraid… I thought you were the landlord coming to collect the rent, but you were a friend coming to bring a precious gift.”

What a parable for our time. How many among us hide from God? We hide because we are afraid of Him, and see him as a collection agent. We perceive him as a stern, determined landlord who demands more than we have. The good news is that God is nothing like that. He is loving, kind, giving and He wants to give you the precious gift of Himself

.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Journey, Community, Fear, Love of God

Frontier of the Soul

Drawing of the Crucifixion by St. John of the ...

Seeking my Love

I will head for the mountains and for watersides,

I will not gather flowers, nor fear wild beasts;

I will go beyond strong men and frontiers.

——Canticle of John of the Cross Stanza 3

 

At this point John determines that in spite of the darkness he feels, he will continue his search. Not a person among us has not felt a sense of spiritual abandonment from time to time. We all have those times when we lose our way and feel all alone – cut off from God. Quickly we discover that others – intercessors – are not enough to find Him. We must seek, seek restlessly and fervently, for that precious relationship that we have lost. We climb the mountain of virtue to get a closer look at His nature.  Like John, we have no time to waste gathering the gratifications of life, and no fear of the evil one that can deter us from our task. In our quest for God we must go beyond our strength and vision and seek to see life though His eyes. Then, and only then, will we find that which we seek.

1 Comment

Filed under Conflict, Contemplation, Dark Night of the Soul, Fear, John of the Cross

Fear and Faith

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (...

Any daily newspaper recounts tragic story after story of premature deaths, fractured relationships, and broken dreams. Indeed, we need not turn to any newspaper for an accounting of the world’s troubles and sorrows. We have only to look at our own friends and families. We have only to look into our own lives. Jesus never insulted people by telling them their problems weren’t real. He never told the sick they were never really sick or that their illness had no pain or reality. He never told people that death wasn’t real.

Hear this story of a family living in Indiana where tornadoes are frequent. The youngest member of the family had a special fear of storms. One day, when a storm threatened, the father took his son to the front of their substantial home, pointed out across the neighborhood, and said to the boy, “There, you see everything is okay. These are solid homes and we are safe and dry in them.” About that time a tornado touched down a block away and utterly destroyed several of these “substantial” homes. The storms of the natural world are real just as are the storms of the spiritual, psychological world. Trouble and tragedy are real. Evil and death are real. Jesus never said to his disciples on the stormy Sea of Galilee, “This is no storm. The storm is in your mind.” He never said that. Instead he said to the storm, “Peace, be still.” And it was. Are you out of a job? Did your home decline in value? Are your financial resources dwindling? Do you have a serious illness? Is your marriage not right? Is there a real problem with the children? Are you enslaved in a debilitating habit? Then don’t deny it, says Jesus. The widow never said her son wasn’t dead. Admit the problems. Don’t deny them. Simply embrace the God of peace.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Fear