Fall is the time for colors (everywhere but Florida and Arizona, or so it seems), cooler weather (not so much us), and Halloween. A holiday that really isn’t a holiday, it’s believed to have evolved from the Celtic festival of Samhain, where people would wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
It’s during this time of year that you discover little reminders of this celebration everywhere you go, from blow-up goblins in front yards to ghosts hanging on trees to jack-o-lanterns decorating check-out counters.
Or skeletons lurking in every possible nook and cranny.
John and I were at our local garden center looking for plants for our yard. Isley was with us, twelve years old and one of the most delightful conversationalists I know. We were talking about everything and nothing as we strolled through the aisles of green and colorful growing things.
There was one of those oversized chairs in the middle of the area that looked like it had been made with a giant in mind. Since there were no little people climbing all over it, Isley chose to hoist herself up and sit for a picture.
Then she looked up.
A skeleton was hanging over the top of the chair. Not frightening but surprising.
With scary movies and video games, costumes becoming more gruesome, and haunted houses with increasingly gory and frightening surprises, it takes a lot to scare many people today. Many enter this environment with the “I dare you to make me feel fear” attitude.
It seems we’ve become calloused to fear.
Not all fears.
We all harbor fear in our hearts of different kinds, distinct to each of us. Fear of failure, of being alone or abandoned, of being rejected, of loss of identity and meaning, and the fear of death.
Even babies have fears. Separation from their parents and loud noises rank up there with what will certainly cause a baby to cry.
Fear is part of life because we can’t know what’s coming nor can we control all that happens to us. It makes sense to be afraid when everything around us seems to devolve into chaos as more frightening things happen to people–because of other people.
King David wrote:
“Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Death is a fear that permeates every culture. There’s uncertainty for those who haven’t any assurance of where they will spend their eternity. This valley spoken of by David is an actual location in the Judean Desert. It was so named because travelers were fearful for their lives as they traveled that road.
We’re all confronted with fears we can’t defeat, times when fear overwhelms and paralyzes us.
God says He’s with us, close to us, protecting and providing for us–if we let Him. Even death doesn’t need to be a fear, for those who know Him are assured of heaven with Him.
It doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to those who know the Lord.
Our fears don’t have to define or paralyze us.
We can choose not to confront them alone.
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