A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
Please forgive me if I seem a little pensive today.† Last night we said goodbye to Brock, our son-in-law who is leaving for his third tour of Army duty in Iraq, and today Iím feeling . . . well, Iím not exactly sure what Iím feeling.
Sadness?† Yes, Iím feeling that.† Brock has become an important part of our family, and Iím going to miss him Ė no doubt about it.† But itís more than just that.† Thereís anxiety involved.† Trepidation, too.† Brock is going to a scary place.† Iím worried about his safety, and Iím concerned about his well-being.† Iím troubled.† Iím frightened.† Iím afraid.
Yes, thatís it: fear.† Thatís what Iím feeling.† Fear, pure and simple.† Brock is going to be in harmís way for the next year, and Iím afraid Ė for him, for my daughter, for my granddaughter.
And for me.
Please donít misunderstand.† Iím proud of him. Heís a good man, and heís doing something in which he profoundly believes.† He understands the risks, and while he isnít exactly excited to go Ė again Ė he goes willingly.† Honorably.† And in my view, at least, heroically.
Still, Iím afraid.† Partly because Iím not nearly as brave and courageous as Brock is.† And partly because . . . well . . . Iím human, and humans feel fear Ė some of us more than others.
God knows and understands that.† So do His angels.† Thatís probably why the first thing angelic visitors say when encountering mortal human beings here on earth is: ďFear not.Ē† You can look it up.† Thatís the first thing the angel said to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.† Itís also the first thing the angel Gabriel said to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the first thing the angels said to the shepherds who were ďabiding in their fieldsĒ that first Christmas night.
In each of those cases, I think thereís a double-meaning to the words, ďFear not.Ē Of course, the first meaning was immediate, and had to do with the fact that those folks were seeing an angel and might be inclined to freak out a little.† So the angel says, ďItís OK.† You donít need to be afraid.† Iím not going to hurt you.Ē
But the deeper meaning had to do with the thing the angel was there to announce, which would lead to the elimination of fear Ė forever.
This time of year we think of a time when a woman called Mary Magdalene stood outside an empty garden tomb. When you consider all that she had seen and experienced during the previous few days, it is only natural that she was troubled, concerned and, yes, afraid.† So itís all the more remarkable that the first words out of the angelís mouth that first Easter morning were those two simple words weíve been talking about: ďFear not.Ē
This time, I think, the words were all about their deeper meaning. Because of what had just taken place, ďfear not.Ē† Because the tomb was empty, ďfear not.Ē† Because of Easter, ďfear notĒ Ė not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
Itís a powerful message, especially at a time when fear seems to have us by the throat.† War, disease, natural disasters, global warming, March Madness . . . everywhere you look there is something about which to worry.† And worry can be a good thing, I guess, if it motivates us to positive action in our lives and in the lives of others.† But fear paralyzes.† It freezes us.† It makes us stop what weíre doing, curl up in a little ball and hide.
And so the message of Easter is simple: ďfear not.Ē No matter what is happening in our lives or in the world around us, ďfear not.Ē† Do what needs to be done.† Respond to issues and circumstances as they arise.† Change the world, if need be.† But ďfear not.Ē
War-bound sons-in-law notwithstanding.
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