Chapter 5: Fear With Feathers

Dear Father Protector, I’ve been trusting you, but fear appears in the pit of my stomach every day. Sometimes it shuts down my thinking. Please, God, take away the fear, or at least show me how to deal with it. Forgive me for not trusting that you are with me, and please help me shorten my “what if—?“ list. Amen.      

                    Being Chicken in the Scary Cancer Woods 

Did you ever see a chicken standing on the little white line in the middle of a highway where cars are whizzing past? He wants to cross the road to the other side. The wind ruffles his feathers as he just stands there paralyzed by fear. How will he ever cross over?

Are you feeling chicken? It happens. People stand on life’s white line shivering, their feathers ruffled by the winds of change. They’re scared, and chicken feelings reign.

 

 Chicken is a slang word for fear defined as cowardly, pusillanimous, spunkless, frightened, a quitter. Add anything you feel to this definition—they all spell fear. Chickens ask questions. What if I die?  What if I am too sick to think? What if I get ugly? What if I die?  Wht if I am too sick to think?

 

Fear, the great “What if?” begins in your brain in an almond-shaped structure called the amygdalathat controls the body process that pumps adrenaline into the blood stream causing a rise in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate and faster breathing. Blood supply lowers in the digestive organs and rushes to the brain and muscles. Fear turns your knees to rubber, makes your stomach feel like it’s loaded with rocks, and it creates a storm of questions in your head.

Some fears are grounded in reality while others are shrouded in the fog of imagination, and, strange as it seems, both the real and the imagined fears produce the same physical reactions.  Sorting the unjustified “what ifs” from the real fears is called for as you try to decide what trouble you are borrowing and what fears are real? Some experts call it logical or illogical fears. Whatever you call the fears, they are a lot like laundry. You’d better sort. No point in letting the unfounded darks fade into the pretty pinks. No point in letting the fears that paralyze fade into the fears that push us to cope.

Usual fears don’t ruffle our feathers because they are a normal reaction that can save lives. Fear keeps us from being hit by cars and reminds us we shouldn’t go along with a crowd. It keeps us from having sex for fear of getting pregnant, it makes us cautious so we don’t get injured in battle, it helps us stay away from a family member who might injure us – in fact, without it, we would have an out-of-balance life. Keeping a check balance on fears, however, requires that we do triage, and in the scheme of things, our cancer has priority. It qualifies as a very windy, feather- blowing fear – a “my clothes are all too tight”, “I am paralyzed, I can’t even think, and my heart is pounding” fear. It is here that the wind of fear ruffles our feathers turning our knees to rubber. It is here that the severity of our fear makes our bodies seem to melt like butter or feel like they turn to rocks.

When cancer happens, strange emotions and feelings can make us feel like the chicken in the middle of the road with feathers flapping in the wind. Our heads become stuffed with the great what if fear questions: What if I can’t finish my project? What if I can’t endure the treatment? What if my family spends all their money? How can I watch my loved one suffer? What if I can’t pay for treatment? What if I miss my son’s wedding? What if I lose my hair? What if I don’t get to . . .? What if my insurance runs out? What if…? What if…?

Underneath these practical fears lies another, broader layer of questions: What if I lack courage? What if I lose faith or lack enough faith to make it through this? What if I can’t endure the physical and mental pain? What if my loved one dies? What if I die? What if I have wasted my life?

Most of the gut wrenching fears might be summed up in the changing picture of life during cancer: We fear the scary unknown, and cancer has no roadmap, so it is hard to sort out the changes that have to be faced, and it’s hard to know which changes are real.

Both wisdom and all our resources are called upon as we learn to evaluate our strengths from the past and try to focus them on the task at hand. Although most people have strengths they have taken for granted or haven’t acknowledged, a false humility may have scabbed over past successes in personal courage and coping skill. In difficult times, God gives each of us a signed, pink permission slip that says, “Pat yourself on the back for your strengths. Look at them. You earned them. Acknowledge and use them as God-given gifts.”

Stop for a minute to review a time or event from the past where you came face to face with a fear. What did you do? How did you get through the issues you had to face? Would that work in this situation?  Select another event or fear issue. What did you do? How did it work? Is there a pattern?

IDEAS FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE WALKED THE WALK

If you need more ideas to get you off the white line in the middle of the fear highway, read on for suggestions from other cancer patients.  Here’s what they said:

  1. Speak your fears to a trusted friend. Scientifically, putting words to the fears helps move the reality of fear from the side of the brain where emotion predominates to the other side of the brain where logic reigns. Speaking the words may help you clarify your thoughts as well as share the burden. Persons who are unable to physically describe fears in words because they cannot speak, will be able to use picture boards, computerized technology or eye blinks or sign language to communicate.

By the time Don rode the employee van from the suburbs to the city for two years, his routine of calmly sleeping to the end of the line was established. Until his cancer! Now his fear has created a nervous unrest making him shift in his seat and sigh and jiggle his feet. Jose the co-employee and driver asked about the restlessness. “Just edgy,” Don answered. By the fourth day, when Don had not napped and was restlessly jiggling his feet, Jose was certain Don had a major issue, and finally Don admitted his health problems. Slowly, Don began to unravel and verbalize his fears, sharing them with his fellow worker. Speaking the words seemed to help Don sort his logical and illogical fears, and, after a few trips of sharing, Jose and Don parked the van at the end of the line to continue their conversations. Jose valued confidentiality and did not report the issue to other employees. Today Don cannot explain even to himself why the fears about his future began to sort themselves, but his respect and admiration for the strength he found in and through Jose is unbounded.

  1. Talk with God. Conversations with God can help you face the reality of fears, and can help sift, separate and lay aside unrealistic fears. Conversation always includes listening as well as talking and may be more than what you might think of as conversation. Sometimes you may just sit in God’s presence, thinking through, discussing, finding comfort in what you know about your spiritual relationship. (Read more about this in Chapter 3.) It is such a blessing that God hears thoughts and words in any language and any culture.

They marked her head with colors and used pointy little things to direct unseen rays. Now Consuela found herself in the hospital chapel cowering in fear. Others who came to the chapel saw her, commented to friends and pointed. She was a known personality. She was beautiful. She was articulate on camera. She was alpha, and she was scared to death. She was also since the age of seven the daughter of her church, schooled in scripture and praxis. First, in the chapel, she had to ready herself much as she did for the cameras. Settle and focus. But her mind, stuffed with garbled fears, could not settle. To her mind came the sentence from Jesus, “Lo I am with you always, even…” But wasn’t he talking to the disciples?” she asked herself. Her mind took a retreating step from her fears and anxieties. “He was talking to me, too.”  An hour later, when Consuela left the chapel, she felt relieved even though most of the time she had felt like a flour sifter dividing ideas. Her fears weren’t numbered like the cue cards she used every day; some became so insignificant she mentally threw them away, but the remaining ones were consolidated, valid and needed work.  Post radiation prayer and meditation in the chapel have made Consuela’s treatment smoother. She calls the chapel her sacred think tank.

  1. Keep a written, on-going list of fears as a process to discover patterns and to prioritize. Something about posting the words into writing helps with the sorting into real and unjustified or imagined ones. After writing, try to find out what the list means. How are the fears related? Can you rank the fears in order of effect on your life? Which fears on the list are unimportant in comparison with others? When you return to the list after a time, are some fears totally insignificant? Have you lived past some? Strike them out with your pen. Which fear paralyzes you on the white stripe in the middle of the highway, and do you need a trained counselor or pastor to help with it?

Don’t be discouraged with your efforts to sort out the foggy fears. Remember that, much to your chagrin, when doing the laundry, your brother or sister always put colored shirts and socks in with the whites. Everyone has a different method, and not all colors fade.

4.  Recognize the Black Times Related to Fear.

Some but not all people experience a severe black time in cancer so dismal they don’t care about anything, even self. Learn to recognize the black times of fear for what it is. You may be overwhelmed by physical and emotional stress so powerful that it blots out the power to feel emotions.  Vitality seems drained from the body, pleasure is elusive, and time seems contradictory, may even seem endless and short and frightening all at once.  There is no apparent glimmer of light on the horizon, no energy to get out of the chair. Not all cancer patients experience this, but some who do call this the “black time.” This may be a drug-induced time or a fear-paralyzed time, and, whatever the cause, it may be extreme emotional or physical overload. It’s the time when it seems life’s entire stock of everything is used up. Black doesn’t trust doctors or self or God or anyone. Black time is so dismal a person can simply no longer care about anything, even self, but black needs someone to hang onto even if there is no energy for grasping the hand of help offered by caring friends or family. This contradictory time when a person wants to be left totally alone, is the exact time to make a friend or relative aware that you are in a black time.

Louise found herself in such a black place that she called Barbara who shed tears with her. Barbara thanked her for sharing, and said, “I know you feel that you can’t see the future, and I know that you feel powerless to pray. Don’t try. I will not only pray for you, I will do your prayers for you.”
 And for weeks she lifted up the concerns and desires of her friend in concerted prayer while staying near her friend. Often they just sat together looking out the window or petting the cat. Later, Louise said her friend’s presence and watchful attention felt like God in skin. Barbara also watched Louise for signs that she needed professional help if the black time persisted.

 During a dark time is also the time to grab God’s hand and stubbornly hang on, knowing that God is not only with you but within you. It’s the time to turn to God in any possible way even if there is no feeling of joy..

Let God be the listening companion on the sacred path while you remember that you can scream at a sacred path, that you could throw rocks at it if you had the energy.  Black can be a frustrating color. For a meditation on the subject, please read Word of the Day: “Feelings” #2 on page __.

  1. Admit your fear of dying. Open up to ways to deal with it. A healthy awareness of death moves us to get our lives in order, to reconsider our life’s goals, write new ones and focus on positive ways we can live in the present, so it is important to find out the difference between awareness of death and fear of death. Chapter 9, Ditches, Potholes, Trails Without Maps and Sudden Drop Offs provides a springboard for thinking through the actual awareness about and fear of death.
  2. Seek help if your fears are overpowering. Sometimes burdens of fear can drive the balance out of daily life so long that perspective is lost. If so, ask for help, confide in a friend or pastor that you need professional help, then trust them to help you find it. They will know the specific kind of help you need.

7. Recognize that fear and stress are partners with far-reaching effects. In a new field called psychoneuroimmunology, Professor Elyiahu of Tel Aviv University found that reducing stress is related to the recurrence of cancer. Fear, one of the stressors before, during and after surgery, has been shown to affect the entire physiological and psychological out

outcome in the immune system. New research hopes to develop an intervention program that will block stressors such as adrenaline to get the immune system functioning maximally. The intervention will likely be in the form of existing generic drugs. Until such a drug intervention program is in place, cancer patients can help their immune systems by working at relieving fear, one of the greatest stressors.1

  1. Let the Bible speak to fears. The Bible speaks to both black fears and the fears grounded in reality as well as those unfounded fears that plague us. Some psychologists break the fears into two groups, rational and irrational, but whatever you call them it is a certainty that God’s word speaks to black times and blurred times and all times.

The Bible is rich in scripture snatches that we can call to mind again and again to meet our special need at the time.  Recall Jeremiah who as a young boy was called by God but scared to answer the call and the prophet Isaiah who foretold their doom. God had messages for them and us but skip the doom. It isn’t the message:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                               Isaiah 41:10 NIV

This was God’s assurance to a downhearted and fearful Israel that He was with them, as God is with you. We may try to recall what the Bible says to us about fear while we look for a new understanding of it in our present situation. But in our anxious state, we may have to scramble from page to page looking for advice on how to calm our fears. We may even hunt a concordance and read every reference looking for a quick fix. We can read the words, but, when we are frozen with fear, in our minds, it’s easy to back-talk the Bible, a much better practice than saying, “Oh, forget it,” and a much better practice than just dismissing the scripture because we do not understand it. You can hear the backtalk in these often-quoted Bible snatches.

WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ASSURANCE: Fear not, I am WITH YOU.

(Back Talk:  Okay! So where are you God? I’m shaking-scared right now, this minute, and my blood pressure is on the rise. You haven’t stopped my shaking.) Isaiah 41:10

WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MAGIC: Perfect love casts out fear.

(Back Talk: I love you, God, but I’m still scared out of my skin. Is it because my love isn’t perfect? What am I doing wrong? I feel guilty.) I John 4:18

WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR MEANING: Lo, I am WITH you always.

(Back Talk: Emmanuel: God with me. All right. Walk with me, and please give me a sign that you are with me.) Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14

Back talk may seem to be un-religious but can serve to make you think and explore other scriptures that can guide the thought. For example, the apostle Paul, with the experience of many troubles, and in-house arrest writes to the Ephesians that they can become so filled with love that the troubles of life are looked at differently. It is a prayer for deeper understanding of the size and fullness of god. (Ephesians 3:14-21) He prays for them saying,

This is why I kneel before the Father. Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love. I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

            Glory to God who is able to do far beyond all that we cold ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and ever, amen. Common English Bible, a fresh translation to touch the heart and mind, also,www.CommonEnglishBible.com, copyright 2010. (CEB)

After reading this, you may have new questions, not really back talk, but wonderings: Wow! What is the meaning of love in my situation? As the Bible speaks to fears, it is also a gold mine for thought and learning about other subjects, and is an interactive book allowing questions and mental back talk that will provide richness to your questions as well as the answers. Live in its pages with curiosity and expectation.

 

  1. Trust the Power of “God is With You.” There is a power of WITH, and the power of a God who is WITH AND WITHIN guarantees you company on the scary walk in the woods. The power may give you the impression that someone is holding your head up when you feel you are drowning. The power of “with” God leads you to influence persons around you just by who you are in the cancer event. The power of with, can help you focus on positive thoughts and practice gratitude. It can also help you realize that although you have limitations when you are fighting cancer, nearby might be someone who needs your help. A catholic nun became a good example of service while taking the cancer walk. Thea Bowman kept a journal of how she met challenges. Speaking of Thea in Saints to Lean on, Spiritual Companions for illness and disability, 2author Janice McGrane quotes Thea’s teaching: “When we have limited energy, and hence limited time, we realize God’s invitation to focus on the truly important things in life. When living with intractable pain, or using oxygen to facilitate breathing, or slowly losing the abiity to see, we have a choice. We can continually mourn our lost self, or we can focus on the good things we still have, especially, as Thea points out, our relationships with others.”

 

Examples and suggestions for dealing with fear may have helped you put it in its place, but what if there is still that nagging fearful feeling in the pit of your stomach or that racing heart?

Still feeling chicken in the cancer woods?

Still feeling chicken? It’s allowed. Sometimes the power of WITH isn’t a warm feeling, rather an assurance similar to when you’re scared at night in your house but feel better because someone is sleeping upstairs. You can’t see, hear or feel them, but you know they are there.

If you’re feeling really chicken, join the people cowering in the bushes hiding from the cancer-wolf. Even after five years, they may be just as scared and intimidated as you are. All of us have felt chicken at one time or another. We are frightened out of our skins, so frightened that sometimes we think we areoutside our skins looking at ourselves as someone we don’t recognize. We feel cowardly, and stuff the fears down where no one can see them or try to hide the paralysis they cause. Forget hiding! Fear is allowed, in fact, if a cancer patient isn’t a little afraid, there is something wrong.

When Naomi awoke isolated in intensive care, she had tubes coming from her skull and machines whonking and hissing intermittently. I-V lines hung around her bed and blinking monitors gave messages to someone far away. She was alone in a strange place and in pain. A drug-induced calm layered itself over the intense jolt of fear she felt in her chest. She remembered wanting to be brave, but, strangely, she couldn’t think, couldn’t even decide if she wanted to die or cry. Later, she reported that she wanted to pray, but a fog clouded her thinking and thoughts got mixed up like scrambled eggs. She couldn’t even think an entire sentence. That impossibility brought on more fear. Then one thought surfaced, a short thought that became her life raft for a few days: “Emmanuel: God with me.” She relaxed a little. She was not alone. God was with her.

The emotion of fear can cloud thinking more times than we realize. Often we don’t realize how foggy we are, and sometimes we can only focus on a short scripture snatch or the fragment of a spiritual thought for a resting place.

Basal cell, the easiest of all skin cancers!  Why hadn’t he caught it before it got so big? Isaac fumbled with the lock on his garage, entered and looked unseeingly at the tools he meant to use to repair the brakes on his car. Since the diagnosis two weeks ago, he had spent sleepless nights reviewing the questions uppermost in his mind: what if he fell in the two percent where basal cell spreads? What if he couldn’t take care of his two-year old Anna and five-year old Joshua? What if Lynda got custody if he got really sick? Bumping into the tool bench brought him back to reality. He picked up a couple of wrenches and reached for a floor jack. What was he going to do next? Preoccupied and tired from lack of sleep, Isaac’s bewildered mind wandered again and again. A realization of fear caught his knees all at once, and he sat down on a toolbox. The brakes would have to wait until his mind was clear, and it was safe to work on his car. Tomorrow the fear would be better. He’d be clear-headed tomorrow. He stared vacantly around the garage, feeling more alone than he had in his entire life. Where could he go with this fear and craziness? Not a praying man, he began the only prayer he knew: “Our Father in heaven. Holy is your name. My name is Isaac.”

          We seek refuge, and sometimes all we can do is offer ourselves, our name, our mind, our heart. We are no longer alone. We take a step toward God only to discover that God has always been WITH us.

                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                GREAT CHICKENS OF THE BIBLE

It’s obvious that fear covers a person with fatigue and can cloud thinking, but it can also move a person beyond fear to new horizons. There are many examples of great chickens reported in Bible stories, chickens who had a relationship with God but still felt chicken or forgot for a moment that God was with them. They are really important chicken people with special endings to their stories that might inspire us. Among them is Moses, the cute little baby in the basket, who……..

 

MOSES

One of the great chickens of the Bible was Moses. Yeah, that cute little Hebrew baby placed in the river in a little basket that floated. How could such a cute baby be chicken? Found by an Egyptian princess, he grew up in Egyptian court with all the best education and luxuries the court had to offer, yet he watched injustice to the Hebrew slaves. In a moment of anger, he killed an overseer for mistreating a Hebrew slave, and when word of the deed reached Pharaoh, Moses turned instant chicken and did a disappearing act. It all happened too fast. He was gone. Skipping the country wasn’t the only cowardly thing he did, either. Later, God got Moses’ attention through a burning bush, telling him to make tracks back to Egypt to talk the Pharaoh into letting his people go free and leave Egypt.  Reluctant, Moses made a few excuses to God (as chickens do). What if he failed? What if no one believed God had sent him? What if people laughed at his speech impediment? This last excuse of having a speech impediment was solved when God sent Moses’ brother, Aaron, with him to be the spokesperson. It seems that God does solve chickenhood by sending help. Moses went back to Egypt and led his people out of slavery and toward a better life.

 

PETER

Another great chicken of the Bible was Peter, who was recruited by Jesus from his family fishing enterprise. When Jesus asked him to become a friend and helper, a disciple who would “fish for men” instead of fish, Peter willingly left his fishing and family to become a part of the intimate circle of twelve disciples who lived and traveled with Jesus. He was the only one of the twelve who answered the question asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” In recognition, Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:15-16). Peter had an open mind and an open heart for serving, and he thought he understood the meaning of ‘Christ.’ Yet he later turned chicken when, just before Jesus was crucified, someone identified him as a friend of Jesus, and he denied even knowing Jesus. Scared of guilt by association, he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed that morning. (Is this the real meaning of being chicken, being scared and intimidated? Matthew 26:69) Later, along with the realization that he was the ultimate chicken, Peter was filled with remorse.

The ending of this chicken story is very important because the first person Jesus came back to see after Easter morning was Peter, and somehow through conversation and interaction, Peter was forgiven and forgave himself. Somehow he learned to do the chicken dance of joy. His love for Jesus caused him to become the rock upon which the church was built. (Acts 1-4 ff), and it caused him to “feed the sheep” of Jesus meaning he told anyone who would listen about Jesus’ life and death.

So who hasn’t been chicken? We’re all allowed. What’s important is that later we learn what to do with our chickenhood. Such as learning from it and using it.

JONAH

An Old Testament Hebrew prophet, Jonah, stands out as another chicken in the Bible. When God gave him an assignment Jonah didn’t like, he simply chickened out and ran away to sea. We remember Jonah as the ship’s passenger who was thrown overboard and later swallowed by a big fish, spit out and re-called by God to go straighten out the dissipated citizens of Nineveh. Jonah’s missionary story took some unexpected twists and turns, but Jonah abandoned his fears and did some unusual preaching.  His story tells us that God’s compassion is directed to all people, not just a few, and that people who are sometimes chicken get a chance to serve in new ways, and they are blessed to be a blessing.

            So who hasn’t been chicken?  We are allowed. What’s important is that we learn from our chickenhood.

THE DISCIPLES

The Disciples were good, upstandin

were in a boat when a storm came up, and they were scared to death, all of them suffered chronic chicken. But Jesus calmed them. Another time,  (Mark 6:45-52) during a storm, Jesus walked on water toward the disciples in a boat. They didn’t know whether to be more scared of the storm or of the apparition walking toward them on top of the water.  The story ends where Jesus came on board dispelling their fright when he said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

So who hasn’t been chicken? We are allowed. What’s important is that we don’t get stuck as chickens.

 

Most of us can relate to these disciple stories of chickenhood, so we need to relate to the stories of what the disciples did with their lives after they chickened out. They preached the gospel and healed the sick, apparently forgiving themselves and overcoming their fears.

Jesus is with us in our chicken fears, but he also climbs on board with us to help calm us and calm the waters. He doesn’t always take away the storm, but he calms both the storm and us, thereby helping us with our chickenhood. “Take courage!” he says.

Peter, Moses, Jonah and the Disciples learned to live past their fears and failures and into a dancing for joy and a service mode. Their apparent recovery reminds us of a German heritage Oktoberfest where everyone does “The Chicken Dance”, a funny gymnastic demonstration of flopping around being funny. The song and dance, composed in the 1970’s by Werner Thomas originated in Davos, Switzerland. Titled “Duck Dance”, the song has changed until Mr. Thomas would barely recognize it, but the spirit of joy and fun and the dancing around looking silly remind us that there can be more than one kind of joy in chickenhood. Recovery from being chicken is something to dance about, if not with your feet, with your flapping wings or singing heart or any part of your body that you can move even if it’s only blinking an eyelid.

Recovery from chickenhood may take a while, in fact, there may be a long time lapse before you can take that chicken dance. In the present, every tiny fear may be held under a huge magnifying glass. For example, the fear that you might have to wear adult diapers the rest of your life may have been false or realistic. But perspective on that fear may make you glad that you are alive even in Pampers. So with great courage, you do what you have to do. The fear of losing a part of your body may send you into a downward spiral. Yet, with great courage, you do what you have to do.

What are other important fears at the time? Becoming less desirable because of losing body parts?  Changing your family life forever? Death?  Dying poorly?  Using all your money for treatment?  Losing independence?  Losing a career because of illness or disfigurement?  Pain and isolation? A shift in all personal relationships? The fears cannot be minimized. They sit smack in the middle of life waiting for definition, and, once defined, they must be realistically faced, must be lived through and held up to the light for examination. God’s light can shine on you during the examination.  God is with you in the tiny or even the unspeakable, giant fears. Someone understands your secret dread and says, “You are strong enough to do this.” Then whispering in your ear is the message, “I walk this path with you.”

 

The God of Love Transforms Fears

 

The sacred path is littered with stories and scripture snatches that remind us of God’s presence during times of fear. Don’t we wish God would make himself known in highly dramatic ways as He did in the Old Testament such as sending hailstones or making the sun stand still as He did for Joshua (Joshua 10) Wouldn’t it be nice if the Angel of the Lord would show up on our patio and turn our bread and meat into fire as he did for Gideon? In spite of that, Gideon kept asking himself if God was really with him. Did God really want him to gather his troops and go to war? WHAT IF IT WASN’T REALLY GOD? His test for an answer was called “laying a fleece” to catch or not catch dew at night (Judges 6:11-40). Gideon tried it one way and then the other, just testing, testing. When the fleece came up dry and the ground around it was wet, Gideon had his answer. Whew! It WAS God speaking. We “lay fleeces” all the time, but our answers seem obscured. Okay, so why not a burning rose bush in your yard with a voice saying “I’m here with you”? It worked for Moses.

If not hailstones, fleeces and burning rose bushes, how can you know that God is whispering in your fear-stressed ear the message, “I walk this path with you”?  The answer has to do with our picture of a God who loves us unconditionally as a mother or father. His love surrounds us like a cloud-soft velvet blanket. His love wraps us in a dry fleece that offers assurance of spiritual presence. His love in the form of Jesus helps us see and understand goodness and love in the world around us. His love sends us friends and helpers. Acting in his love helps us cut through the paralysis of fear in order to make appropriate decisions. Even though we may not see it at the moment, the God of love just has a hand in working things out.

WHEW, GOD! THANKS FOR BEING THERE!

 

 

 

Meditations in CHAPTER 10 are geared for persons with mind fog and/or the short attention span that often accompanies serious illness. A word for each day can help focus great ideas from the Bible that deal with fear. The following numbers will enrich your thoughts:

#1 Waiting (Don’t hold your breath)

#6 Springs and Rivers

#10 Refuge

#11 Refuge

#20 Hush

 

 

1  Tel Aviv University (2008, Feb 29) Stress and Fear Can Affect Cancer’s Recurrence. Science Daily. Retrieved March 21,2008 from sciencedaily.com.

2 Saints to Lean On , Spiritual Companions for illness and disability, Janice McGrane, S.S.J., St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2006, p. 134.