Monday, April 15, 2013

Freedom from Fear

     I don’t know what it was like living in the days of World War II when the demise of the free world was a genuine fear. I look at the Rockwell Painting with parents tucking in their children at night. The dad is holding a folded newspaper where the only clear words are bombings and horror. The times must have been scary to live in.
     People fought and died to give us freedom from fear. I don’t know how long it was supposed to last. The war ended and new ones came and went. More people died. It’s even happening today. And it’s hard to not still be afraid.
     I hope I am not seriously sinning here not trusting God. I do trust Him for my salvation. And like so many Bible heroes I try to trust and obey. But the world is scary. And it’s not just war. Yes, there are megalomaniacs out there with the power to kill thousands or more. But that isn’t all. People are killing each other for no clear reason. Kids are killing themselves because they are hurting so bad. And so much of this is happening in schools or with kids and young people.
Leaders are scrambling and debating about the best way to end this violence. Putting more control over ways to kill (gun laws) seems to make sense. But then someone rampages through a college with a knife and puts people in the hospital. It looks to me like people are going to lose touch with sense and reality and try to hurt or kill one another no matter what laws are in place. Sure, better laws may be good. Keeping weapons out of the hands of dangerous people seems smart to me.
But I don’t think an important factor is being lost on anyone here. I see it and I can’t imagine no-one else does. We can’t ignore this truth: something is making people snap. People out there are misguided, broken. People are hurting.
And I sit in my safe little house and feel overwhelmed. I hear the newscasts that break my heart and sometimes just want to go crawl under my bed, plug my ears and hum. Or sometimes I become so discouraged I just want to say, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.” And it’s overwhelming. I wish I could do something, but I don’t even know where to start.
I get overwhelmed at work sometimes. Once in a while, there is a tremendous amount of things to do and I don’t know where to begin. Let me unequivocally state here that I love my job and hope I can keep it forever. But sometimes when a large event is done and I’ve already worked a long day and I need to get everything ready for Sunday morning, I feel a little beleaguered. And here is the thing: the room will have a semblance of how it should look for Sunday. But the floor will be dirty and need vacuuming. I will need to pick up all the table and chairs vacuum, and reset the room. So I have to step backwards to move forward. The restrooms will need a deep cleaning and the corridors will need vacuuming to. It all sounds easy written out. But standing in a big room late in the day and thinking of all that must be done can give me this feeling. And I realized yesterday that the feeling I get thinking about all the hurting and broken people and the sad state of so many things is the same feeling I get late in the day with a plethora of tasks ahead of me.
There is so much to do. Where can I even begin? I don’t have the strength to do all of this. 
But each time I get onto it. I stride into the room and unceremoniously grab one chair, I fold it, then another and another until I have four in my hands. I take them to the side of the room and lean them on the wall. Then I go get four more. There may be 168 chairs.
I stay distracted listening to my iPod. This is usually when I like to have an audiobook on. I keep at it for the hours it takes. In the end I go home and go to bed and sleep well.
Maybe the same thing would work with helping the world. Maybe instead of succumbing to being overwhelmed, I could look for the first little thing to do and just do that. It’s true I don’t have what it takes to do it all. But, maybe it’s so cliché that it’s unapparent, I have what it takes to do the first thing that I’m capable of.
Perhaps it’s simple-minded to liken my little world to the great big broken world. But my point is that the great big broken world can’t be fathomed unless looked at simply.
If my iPod keeps me cool doing the work resetting a room, prayer could guide me and calm me in the world. And one more thing I’ve recently admitted, I could get help. A few nights ago, there were not 168 chairs with tables, there were 244 chairs and accompanying tables. I got two people, not to help me, but to pick up the room and vacuum it for me while I went home and fell asleep. I was able to get up early the following morning and set for the next event starting with a clean room. 
special setup with 244 chairs and 31 tables

It helps to start small with the first task one can do. But sometimes it’s so valuable to have someone step in before me and help clear things up. What I got was a clearer picture of what I needed to do.
It’s not the task that’s daunting. It’s the vision of it. Looking at the world, the idea that people are hurting and killing and cannot be stopped is enough to paralyze me. But when someone steps in and wipes away the clutter, I can see there are people close to me, within arm’s reach that perhaps I can get to. It would never be up to me to “reset” or “clean” them. I don’t really know what I would do. It’s not up to me to ever plan a response for that. God tends to not work that way. I just have to be ready. There may not be freedom from fear and I might always feel fear. But I can still step forward despite it. Fear diminishes with each guided step.

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