10 Day You Challenge - Day 3: 8 Fears

I do not like to focus on fear... the tabloids (both the paper and TV varieties) do enough of that... be it fear of Muslim extremists, Roma-child-abductors, flesh-eating microbes, rampaging poisonous spiders... You name it, they will try to turn it into a phobia -with the word phobia being used in its sense of irrational fear... Dig deep into most of these stories and you will find little of substance.
I also am not into those who build their ministries on a "gospel" of fear... Yes fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but it is only a beginning... There are those for whom fear (either at a specific point or a more general fear) was a major feature in their spiritual journey, including Martin Luther, John Newton and John Wesley. Indeed last night I was at a meeting where a Catholic priest spoke of the fear that he had as a child growing up in a mixed area of north Belfast of his home being attacked and he or his family being killed, and how that was a powerful factor in the development of his prayer life, and ultimately his vocation. However, the gospel is ultimately about encounter with a God who is described uniquely as love... and as we are told, perfect love drives out all fear. 
But this is all getting very serious, and this meme is, essentially a bit of fun... Though as I worked through this list I found little to laugh about.

1) NEEDLES - not a great one for a diabetic who has to inject himself daily...

2) DOGS - not a great one for a pastor who has to visit people who insist on keeping such creatures as pets, or who has to conduct a Service of Blessing for Animals when on exchange in the USA...

3) THE TAXMAN - despite the fact that I am usually meticulous when I fill out my tax return, there is something deep inside of me that convinces me that the boys from HMRC are going to come round with baseball bats and do something deeply unpleasant to me because due to some oversight on my part I owe them £3,000,000 pounds... So I tend to bury my tax return at the bottom of my intray until the last possible moment, hoping that it will magically go away, thereby increasing the likelihood that I will make some dreadful mistake... Actually I go into a tailspin with most major transactions of money... just not good with it... That is why I will never take on the job of treasurer in an organisation, and why I may be in a bad mood for the next week.

4) REJECTION - I touched on this in the first post in this series... It came as a big shock to me a few years ago that many of my behaviours are predicated on a genuine fear of rejection... Hence I am reluctant to ask people to do me a favour... making delegation a real trial... and I don't take the initiative in organising social gatherings etc It became clear very quickly where this came from, but this is neither the time nor the appropriate forum.

5) EXPOSURE - Both of the  preceding fears are associated with this one... I am totally convinced that one day I will be exposed for the intellectual/theological/artistic lightweight/incompetent that I know myself to be... You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but...

6) FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS PROVINCE - I am a professional purveyor of hope... But that hope is ultimately eschatological, and there are times that I look at this province that I live in, the lack of political leadership and will to make a genuine change... together with the grass-roots sectarianism throughout the whole of society (even in leafy suburbia) and I wonder why on earth I came back here from Scotland... Don't get me wrong, things are better here than they were 30 years ago, but there is a dangerous dysfunctionality to this wee country which may sow the seeds of future conflict if we are not careful.

7) FOR THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD -  But what I fear for our wee province I fear in spades for the wider world... Again I know that the whole world is in God's hands, but even scripture is pessimistic about the medium term picture... Without getting too apocalyptic about it all, it seems likely that Revelation is written to assure a church community experiencing persecution that God actually does know what he is doing and that things will turn out OK in the end... The very end. However, as a people we seem to be trying to hasten that end with profligate use of the world's resources, pollution of the air, soil and seas, messing around with a finely balanced ecology, causing the extinction of some species, introducing other GM-species and messing around with microbes that we don't really understand, producing weapons of mass destruction and creating inequalities that play into the hands of radical teachers and the very people who might use WMD with little conscience... etc etc.

8) FOR THE FUTURE OF MY CHILDREN - I often joke with my children that the only thing I will be passing on to them in my will is my debt (although of course, as I affirm at spring synod each year, with fingers crossed "I am not in debt..."). But that is only partially a joke. My youngest son became a teenager yesterday and my eldest is ambling towards adulthood,and as I said in the 2 paragraphs above the world they are inheriting is an uncertain place. We are passing the mess on to them to sort out... together with an unmanageable national debt, eye-watering personal debt if they choose to go to university, particularly if they have to go to university on the other island (thanks, Stormont for making your own young people subject to appalling inequality), no jobs and a busted welfare system we are not prepared to pay for...

OK that's me depressed for the rest of the day... Hope it has cheered you up...



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