Tag Archives: fear

How All Stories End

Story of the Day for Thursday March 15, 2012

How All Stories End

                      Do not call conspiracy everything these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear.

                                                                    Isaiah 8:12

I’m reading a book about the Revolutionary War, and it is not looking good for the Americans.  Congress has declared independence from Great Britain, but now, a little over a month later, the British have arrived in force: 73 warships, and 400 transport ships.  The British are bearing down with the most powerful, well-trained army in the world.  The ragtag Americans are no match for the 32,000 British troops who have just hammered the Colonial troops at the Battle of Brooklyn.

General George Washington is trying to sneak his army off the island at night, but messages get confused.  The wrong regiments are moving at the wrong time and everything is in confusion. At dawn, with much of the army still trying to cross over to New York, they are sitting ducks for British warships and advancing troops.

 

Do you want to know what I think?  I haven’t read to the end of the book, but I don’t think we’re going to win this war.  The Americans don’t have a chance.  The British are going to notice the retreat at first light and destroy our army.  We’re going to be crushed by British military might and end up a British colony forever!   Then they’re going to slap a tax on all imports of Earl Grey tea and we’re going to have to sing “God Save the King” at the beginning of all our football games.

People often comment on my keen foresight about things.  I don’t know, I just seem to be able to look at these kinds of situations and know what’s going to happen.

 

After reading on, I learn that at the last moment – just before dawn – a thick fog settled in over the American troops.  New York is clear, but the fog surrounding our retreat is so thick the British complained they couldn’t see six feet.  Washington ended up evacuating his entire army of 9000 men without the loss of a single life.

Okay, but that was just luck we weren’t destroyed .

Wasn’t it?

 

I have continued reading and my prediction is being vindicated – we are getting clobbered by the British. Sure, Washington escaped to the mainland, but now the British warships have trounced us at Kips Bay. We retreat. They pursue. They have taken Fort Washington and 2000 patriots have been captured.  They attacked Fort Lee and we gave it up without a fight.  A third of the army is sick, and there are only 3500 American soldiers left.  I just know we’re going to lose this war for independence.

 

Jesus teaches us we should not worry about the future.  He is the King of Kings.  All things are under his control.  And even people of keen foresight (like me), need to trust that the Lord alone knows how all stories end.
                                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Charge Into the Fray

Story of the Day for Monday December 11, 2011

Charge Into the Fray

                 Then David said to Solomon, his son, “Be strong and courageous, and act . . .”  

                                                                             1 Chronicles 28:20

 During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed Gen. George McClellan to lead the Army of the Potomac, and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

When he took command in July of 1861, McClellan’s troop strength was 50,000. By November it had swelled to 168,000 – the largest army ever assembled in modern times.

As the mighty Northern army slowly rolled toward Richmond, the Confederates knew, with their 35,000 men and few cannons, they could not defend their capitol.

False reports came to McClellan that the enemy troop strength was three times what it actually was. McClellan still had almost twice as many men, but he became so alarmed he refused to attack. Instead he gave his fears free reign. He began to imagine his adversary’s troop strength as greater than his own, and make panicky pleas to Washington for more reinforcements.

McClellan’s forces were bolstered to 192,000, but still he refused to attack. He still believed he was outnumbered.

The Confederate generals were brilliant at assessing the character of their opposing generals. Once they concluded that McClellan was easily unnerved, they did everything they could to accommodate his fears.

In order to gain time in bolstering their defenses at Richmond, the Rebels set up cannon emplacements to block their advance. When their jittery leader finally had his troops advance, they discovered the “cannons” were simply logs that had been stripped of their bark and painted black. “Quaker guns,” they came to be called.

But the showstopper was left to the southern general, John Magruder. His pathetically skimpy troops were no match for McClellan’s troops. So, he sent his troops up a hill and then made them walk past a gap in the hills where the Union troops could observe them. They then formed a circle. All day long they would march in a circle – leading the wide-eyed McClellan to believe they were vastly outnumbered.

Back in Washington, President Lincoln repeatedly wrote to his general, urging him to “strike a blow” – that he must act. But McClellan refused. If he had “acted,” he could easily have taken Richmond. But he never tried.

 

When King David neared the end of his reign, he appointed his son, Solomon, to succeed him. In addition to governing a nation, David called upon his son to build a magnificent temple for the Lord.

This mammoth undertaking was large enough to scare anyone from attempting it. But David gave his son what he needed. He told him not to be afraid; the Lord would be with him. “Be strong and courageous,” David counseled, “. . . and act.”

 

Fear can assemble troops faster than General Magruder to cow you into submission. Sometimes, the only way to puncture the illusion is to charge into the fray.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

Story of the Day for Tuesday July 26, 2011

Pressing On When Your Knees Shake

                       I came to you in weakness and in fear and in a lot of trembling. 

                                                                     1 Corinthians 2:3

We tend to think of courage as the absence of fear.   Those who face danger without fear are not courageous, but stupid.

An old man once took some young men fishing on one of the Great Lakes.  The old man kept looking off to the west and frowning.  After a while he told them that he was going to head the boat back because a storm was heading their way.

One young man said, “We don’t need to go back now.  We’re not afraid.”

The old man shot back, “You’re too ignorant to be afraid.”

 

The apostle Paul was a man of great courage.  Despite much opposition and persecution, he was undaunted in his mission.  He had the dubious habit of speaking about Jesus and starting riots, and getting into a lot of trouble.

Paul was bold, but not fearless.  Although he was called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in many places, he appears to be a good debater, but not an exceptional speaker.  He mentions his lack of eloquence, and admits he came to the people in the city of Corinth with “fear and a lot of trembling.”

 

We don’t think of people who are shaking in fear as courageous, do we?  One of Napoleon’s commanders, Marshall Ney, would tremble so violently before battle that he had trouble mounting a horse. Yet, Napoleon repeatedly referred to Ney as the bravest man he ever knew.  Ney was scared, but he never let that stop him.  Once, before battle, he shouted, “Shake away, knees!  You would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you.”

 

Maria Schell was a German actress who began her career with stage fright. When she was seventeen, “I came to the theater on the eve of the opening,” she recalled, “and I saw my name being posted in big letters.”

Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with a sinking feeling, as she realized she was expected to be, in her words, “very, very good.” Maria felt paralyzed.

On opening night she told her mother she had a fever and wanted to stay home in bed. Her mother would have nothing of it. Maria said she never forgot her mother’s counsel: “If you cannot be good, then you must have the courage to be bad.”

 

The Lord did not call Paul to be an eloquent speaker; he called him to be faithful – to boldly speak about Jesus – even he if wasn’t good.  Sometimes, we have to do the right thing, even if we’re not very good at it.

Courage is not about eliminating your fears.  It’s about pressing on when your knees shake.  Eddie Rickenbacker, the World War II flying ace said it well, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre

Crooning Moon River

Story of the Day for Saturday June 11, 2011

Crooning Moon River

 

                            The Lord your God is in your midst . . . He will quiet you with his love.

                                                                    Zephaniah 3:17

  Someone discovered that cows give more milk when they’re listening to music. So, scientists in Great Britain gathered in barns to play music to a thousand cows. They played fast songs, slow songs, classical and rock – and kept careful records of milk production. When the researchers finished serenading the cows, they reported that the cows’ favorite song was Moon River.

What in the world were they thinking! (The cows, not the scientists). We’re talking Henry Mancini “elevator music,” for Pete’s sake.

 

Yet, despite their backward taste in music, cows have much to teach us about our life with God. My friend, Ruth, recently told me about a farmer in Nebraska who tried to force a hesitant cow into her milking stanchion. The cow panicked and kicked him so hard his leg swelled up to the size of a gigantic, swollen leg.

You can’t force cows to give milk.

 

Don’t get me wrong: fear is a wonderful motivator. It can greatly improve our performance when we’re being chased across the pasture by an angry bull. It can even motivate us to schedule a colonoscopy.

Not only that, but, if you want to get a cow out of your garden (and I speak with some authority on this subject), instilling fear will aid your cause, and, possibly, preserve your row of peas.

But fear has its limitations. You can’t slap a cow on the fanny and force it to give more milk. Instead, you have to calm her. You have to relax her. You have to play slow, schmaltzy “elevator music” to her.

 

If we should decide to hold a picnic on the railroad tracks, God may thunder and bellow – not because he hates us, but because he doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves. But even the almighty, all-powerful God can’t threaten us into loving him.

That’s why Jesus didn’t try to terrify us, but to lay his life down for us.

That is also why (and I hope you’re not easily offended) the Lord is willing to treat us like dairy cows. He wants to calm us down, and quiet us with his love.

 

Last week, I made a disturbing discovery. Three legends of rock music: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Elton John have all . . . give me a moment to say this, for it pains me greatly . . . have all recently performed Moon River in concert.

Playing Henry Mancini to increase milk production is one thing, but crooning Moon River to add cows to your fan base is simply pandering.

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)