during End Times


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            Will Smith said, “Fear is a poison.”[1] When questioned he showed his infectious smile, then noted that nine out of ten things we fear never happen. An underwater clip followed with him scratching the belly of a shark.


            Perhaps Will was quoting Dean Koontz who wrote, “Fear is a poison produced by the mind, and courage is the antidote stored always ready in the soul.”[2] Wouldn’t that courage be nice? However, these words are buried in One Door Away From Heaven, the tale of a shape-changing alien sloshing through slaughter.


            Smith and Koontz have given us something to think about, and we don’t want this fear thing to leave us a door short of Heaven. Wasn’t there some parable about the door being slammed in the faces of foolish Virgins who had lost their anointing?[3] What poisoned their faith? Do we need further words of wisdom?


* "Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." - Bertrand Russell


* "He who has overcome his fears will truly be free." – Aristotle


* "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." - Nelson Mandela


* "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dalí


* "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt


* "Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic." – Unknown


            Maybe some of those foolish Virgins who lost their oil were afraid. They did not take to heart and soul some more explicit words.


* “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”[4]


* The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?[5]


 * “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”[6]


            Things you fear have control over you. How will you choose to meet that fear?


            Yes, there are things to fear, but the Lord is with you. May He prompt you to make good choices. Have a bug-out-bag and escape plan before the storm or fire approaches. Don’t park in that part of town with your shiny hubcaps. Avoid the casino when the rent is due. Stay away from plague central. Prepare for or avoid the obvious things that cause you fear. Then lose the fear.


            But John said there is no fear in love. The ones I love, and some friends, punish me in little ways. I try to love my neighbor. They can make me feel bad. I sometimes fear them. Is it my personality? Is it my choices? Or are they the problem?


            And those politicians. The President and those dangerous immigrants. The Governor and his fruit-cake cronies. That City Councilman that wants to rezone where I live for a prison nearby. How can you love them? Fear creeps in from all sorts of places.


            Or fear jumps in. That person rounding the corner. Fight of flight? Or misunderstanding?


* "The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear." – Gandhi


            Gandhi aimed at the insidious source. Fear is a potent poison that festers the obvious enemy: hate.


            Fight or flight? Fear may cause us to run from something or someone we hate. Or fear may transition us to anger to hate and fight. Fear poisons our control buttons, but anger and hate squelch that more-hated fear. I feel better, even if I am sprinting or throwing blows.


            What if God rounds the corner? Fight or flight? Even the Thief on the Cross confirmed, “Don’t you fear God?[7] He couldn’t run or clench a fist, but he had probably heard, “to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.[8]


            Bertrand Russel said, “To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." This sounds like a twist on the proverb, “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”[9]


            We are to fear God and love God. Is this a fear/love paradox with a hidden truth?


            Maybe the Thief had overheard Jesus being asked about the most important Commandment. He had replied to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.[10] Do we have to deal with a pair of paradoxes? How do we express our love for the neighbor we fear? God may be around any corner, but what about that tattooed biker who got your daughter pregnant, the mugger after your wallet or worse, or your neighbor’s lawyer? Sometimes you can’t see the corner, so that pandemic or those terrorists shouldn’t count because they are just on TV.


            Look inside. Do you have a fear of starvation? There have been lean days and times when your stomach tried to digest itself. There have been cravings for Snickers or liquors. What if that End Times day comes when I cannot buy or sell? Should I eat more now?


            Really look inside. Do you fear yourself? How far does your eye rove? Just one more drink. Double down for that next card. Watch reality TV where the stars are worse than me, but the news does that too. I say and do things I can’t control… soon after I resolve not to do it again. Does our internal fear and lack of control infect our neighbor? Does it sour our relationship with God?


            What I can’t control is the basis of fear. Something that might hurt me like a tornado, earthquake, virus, or fire. Something like a car crash, mugger, or terrorist. Or worse, my lover leaves, loneliness, inadequacy, and, oh no, failure. What do foolish Virgins fear? Or Who didn’t they fear?  


            You don’t need to have shark hugging in your bucket list, and we may be curious what is that one in ten Will Smith still fears. However, if you pick the one thing to fear it better be God. If you don’t let fear poison those other nine variables it will be easier to love God and your neighbor.


            Who, where, what, when, and why? What was that pair of fear paradoxes?


            Fear God because He is in control. His love is the antidote to other poisonous fears. He can give you the strength for your soul to conquer your other fears, including fear of your neighbor. Chose to lose your fears because you love God. And love your neighbor.


            Fear God who is righteous.

            You will never be self-righteous.


[1] TV interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan, Aug. 14, 2019.

[2] Dean Koontz, One Door Away From Heaven, Bantam, 2001.

[3] Matthew 25:1-13.

[4] Psalm 23:4 KJV.

[5] Psalm 118:6.

[6] 1 John 4:18.

[7] Luke 23:40

[8] Deuteronomy 10:12.

[9] Proverbs 9:10.

[10] Mark 12:28-31.