Fear ~ False Evidence Appearing Real
A Reflection by D F Raborn
Good Morning ~
It’s a wonderful morning to be alive in God’s grace. And His grace is why we’re here. Christ tells us we will have trouble in this world. God’s grace is why we can find joy even when trouble finds us.
My grandfather used to sing this Gospel Spiritual ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ when my mom, Frances, was growing up. The arrangement is by Harry Douglas and was made famous by the New Orleans Jazz legend, Louis Armstrong. This rendition is by the late, great Sam Cooke.
In John 16 verse 33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
My devotion today is about overcoming the obstacles brought about by the fear that can seep into our lives before, during, and after times of trouble. We’ve probably all heard that the acronym for fear is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’. Every time I raise the fear card you say “false evidence appearing real” and we’ll put a punch into that elusive shadow and knock the wind out of it as we send it on its way. Fear~ It comes stealthfully and it numbs; it comes like thunder and it paralyzes. Fear. There are so many reasons for it. Just no good ones to embrace it, go to bed with it or live with it. Fear.
In 1529 Martin Luther composes “A Mighty Fortress is our God” which we heard on Reformation Sunday. It speaks to the reality of this world and our courage to withstand it.
“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.”
We are to fear the Lord our God with awe and respect. In 1999, James Fowler writes through “Christ in You Ministries” that our natural response to fear is to “deny, defy, suppress, avoid, insulate, self-protect, rationalize, manipulate, control, narcoticize, and/or escape. However, he says, that God’s intended response is for (one) the fear of God, the end of all other fears which is the essence of faith and (two) faith through the presence of God, the love of God and the activity of God.
Saint Paul tells us in 2nd Timothy Chapter 1 “ For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” ( 2 Timothy 1:7 ) Neil Anderson in his passage on Freedom from Fear relates that “based on what God has given us, we can take certain steps to ensure that no fear-other than the fear of God- is controlling our lives.” Dr. Anderson continues, “ Commit yourself to carry out the plan of action in the power of the Holy Spirit. Committing yourself to do God’s will is the key to overcoming your phobias. If it is judicious, have someone pray for you and keep you accountable, he states.
My high school world literature teacher would often talk about fear in terms of ‘fear of something’. Fear of failure; fear of deadlines; fear of tornadoes, as we have in the South; fear of what might be; and fear of the unknown.
Let me tell you a story of a man who feared “what might be” in an awful turn of events. While serving aboard a gunboat in Vietnam, Dave Roever was holding a phosphorus grenade some six inches from his face when a sniper’s bullet ignited the explosive. In his book, WELCOME HOME, DAVEY, he describes the first time he saw his face after the explosion: “When I looked in that mirror, I saw a monster, not a human being . . . My soul seemed to shrivel up and collapse in on itself, to be sucked into a black hole of despair. I was left with an indescribable and terrifying emptiness. I was alone in the way the souls in hell must feel alone.”
Finally Roever came back to the States to meet with his young bride, Brenda. Just before Brenda arrived, Roever watched the wife of another burn victim tell her husband that she wanted a divorce. Then Brenda walked in.
“Showing not the slightest tremor of horror or shock,” Roever writes, “she bent down and kissed me on what was left of my face. Then she looked me in my good eye, smiled, and said, Welcome home, Davey! I love you.’ To understand what that meant to me you have to know that’s what she called me when we were most intimate; she would whisper Davey,’ over and over in my ear . . . By using her term of endearment for me, she said, You are my husband. You will always be my husband. You are still my man.”
He continues: “To understand the grace of God poured out in Jesus Christ, we must first understand our inadequacy, our imperfection, our ugliness, as it were. But Jesus Christ in all His loveliness, in all His holiness, in all His glory still loves us.” And then he says, “there was no need to be terrified.”
Perhaps there’s fear of success. You might remember one of my favorite Edmonton stories. Mike Cooney was the founder of Martech College. At one point in his life, he decides to move off the couch and away from the tv, as reported to the Edmonton Journal a few years back. He decides to do something of excellence. He decides to whistle. Then he decides to enter the International Whistling Competition in Louisburg, North Carolina
Oh and it makes sense that the competition’s been in North Carolina since 1970 because, of course, that’s where Mayberry is located!
I will add that this is a very serious competition with people from all over the world competing. The governor of the state even declares it ‘Happy Whistler’s Week’. Serious stuff! Mike wins in 1992 and again in 2001 and other times, as well. MarTech College folds and he and his wife, Pat, go on to become an internationally acclaimed whistling duo, spreading the word of Jesus as they whistle around world with their company “The Whistling Butterflies”.
I remember so clearly our oldest son, Taylor, asking me to teach him to whistle when he was 4 years old. He just couldn’t do it. He tried and tried. Every day we’d have a practice session. Every night we prayed. He didn’t lose faith but continued to persist and wait. I learned from him the importance of keeping a goal and being intentional no matter how seemingly small or unattainable. He prayed; he persevered. And he had patience. A winning combination. Last weekend he mentioned to me that he loves to whistle to this very day.
~ ~ ~ ~
Back to F.E.A. R.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said to a worried public in 1933 during the depression:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled..and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Shall we pray?
by DFRaborn BA