This weekend is Halloween. Halloween means Holy evening, the day before all Saints day. Whatever the background and thoughts on its place in modern society, it is and always has been a day that people focus on all that is scary. Did you know that there are hundreds of things to be afraid of? For example, some people have what is called Acerophobia, which is the fear of foods being sour. – slice of lemon, anyone?
Still others are afraid of chopsticks, numbers, and certain fabrics. These may sound like silly fears to us, but to some people, these fears are real!
Others have Catoptrophobia, which is not the fear of cats, but the fear of mirrors. To be fair sometimes when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning, it is scary!
Last week we went away for a few days. We went to Northumberland. We had a fantastic time as we visited, the Angel of the North, Hardrian’s Wall, the Northumbrian coast with it’s castle ruins and seaweed munching cows.
It was all lovely and relaxing, that is until we decided to go to “Go Ape”.
If you have not heard of ‘Go Ape’, It entails climbing up and walking between trees by moving along wire bridges, tarzan swings, hanging ropes and Zip Wires. All the time you are clipped in with a climbing harness. We went around with huge smiles on our faces. We had a great time fuelled by adrenalin and secure that we were safe. That is until I stepped off a platform some fifty feet above the ground. Just at that moment I had a flickering doubt, I did clip onto the safety wire, didn’t I?
The fact I am typing this suggests that I did, although the feeling of my stomach knotting and the photos of my panic stricken face reveal that this was a genuine fear. My fear was real as I lost trust in the equipment provided to save me.
Some psychologists suggest that the human brain expresses only two fundamental emotions, love and fear and from these two, all other emotions are experienced.
As Christians we are called to live in God's love and not to live in fear. When we live in fear we react to it, instead of acting against our fear.
When we live with love we have excitement, generosity, trust and courage.
Love strengthens and empowers, whereas fear weakens and disables. God’s love is a perfect love and we are told that perfect love, like a light dispelling darkness, casts out all fear. We read in the bible,
“Fear not for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand"
For me ‘Go Ape’ - was hard work, it was scary but also exhilarating and the rewards were great, but you have to trust in your equipment.
Life with God is similar, it can be hard work, it can be scary but it is exhilarating and the rewards are great, but you have to trust in God, a God who is for us and desperate to step in and catch us should we fall.
Mark Twain wrote.
With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.
If this is true, what more do we have, what greater things can we achieve when this courage is provided because of God’s love.
So which will you choose to live by? Fear or love?