“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it (love) grows perhaps the greater.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
In today’s political moment fear is the M.O. of both sides of the political divide. In the September, 2018 issue of the National Review, a conservative magazine, author Michael Tanner writes:
The poets may say that love is the great motivator, but politicians know it is fear that turns out the vote.
Negative campaigning can cross a line into something more insidious, something that plays on atavistic emotions and tears at our social fabric. That type of fearmongering needs to be guarded against.
After all, the fact is that we really don’t need to be afraid.
Take terrorism, for example. Your chances of being killed by a terrorist are somewhat smaller than your chances of accidentally drowning in the bathtub. The chance of an American perishing in a foreigner-perpetrated terrorist attack on U.S. soil is one in 3.6 million per year.
The of fear-based politics is not just that it leads to bad policies but that it can change the very nature and character of the country. As we become more and more fearful of “the other,” we become both less tolerant and more willing to accept restrictions on our basic liberties.
Candidates who play on our fears are thus a far bigger threat to our nation’s short—and long-term health than any of the dangers they exaggerate in order to do so.
Companies capitalize on our desire for peace of mind to sell us anything from luxury automobiles, to credit cards, to supplemental insurance. Allstate Insurance Company’s logo is actually a pair of hands. And at the conclusion of every Allstate commercial you hear in the deep, baritone voice of that actor say, “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
Most of us live under the illusion that we are in control of our lives. But the fact of the matter is you and I don’t control our own heartbeat, breathing or bodily functions. We don’t control our spouses, and those who try, are high percentage candidates for a second and third marriage.
I used to say prayers with my sons when they were little every night. One night when it was my four-year-old’s turn to pray his voice was soft and quiet and I could barely hear him, so I leaned over to him and said, “Clinton, speak up, I can’t hear you.” He looked at me and said, “I’m not talking to you.”
Did you teach your children to pray at bedtime?
Young Jewish mothers would recite portions of an ancient poem to their little children to help them drift off to sleep. And one of the clips of verse they might have put to a tune to soothe their little ones was:
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalm 31:5
So, it only makes sense that 2,000 years ago in a humble home in Israel a very young Jewish mother would rock a little dimpled-handed and chubby cheeked baby, tuck him into bed, and say this prayer over him as his eyes closed in sleep. Then as he grew under her tender care they would recite these words together.
You remember the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and know that he had been beaten, brutalized, and abandoned on the cross. And as his last breaths are leaving his battered body, maybe he glanced at his mother when he closed his eyes and whispered to his heavenly father that famous prayer from the cross,
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46
Jesus puts himself into the hands of the God that he knows is trustworthy. He’d been singing that song all his life.
No matter how bad it gets, we have a promise from God’s Word that He will lift us up. The cross and the resurrection are God’s proof of his faithfulness.
When I was about 5 years old my family and I lived in Zephyr, Texas. The house that we lived in had a field out back that pastured two mean, old gnarly rams. My brother who was 4 or so and I were forbidden to play in the field with the rams. My dad reminded us that they were mean and dangerous. My dad knew about these things, for he knew all things.
We had a blast exploring the creek that wound through the mesquite grove. We fought epic battles and defended our positions and won the day. When our last foe was vanquished, we made our way back to the fence that bordered our back yard. In the corner of that part of the field there were two wooden pallets that were on their edge to form a solid corner and a makeshift ladder over the fence.
After my little brother had scaled the fence it was my turn. I had my hand on the top of the wood when I heard snorting from behind. I wheeled and saw that I was face-to-face with the old, mean, gnarly rams. They were mad. They shook their heads and blew snot out of their noses. I started to cry. For these were not pretend enemies, these were real. With his head lowered, the biggest one hit me full-on in the stomach slamming me against the wooden corner. I screamed as if this were a dragon blowing fire into my face. The ram backed up and charged again, slamming me for a second time into the wood.
I had never been attacked by a sheep before. I believed I was going to die. Suddenly in the midst of that horror, as the ram was charging in for the kill, I felt a strong hand grab the back of my collar and pull me up with such force that the ram missed me and head butted the wood barrier instead. I saw blue sky as I rocketed upward and then felt two strong arms squeeze me tightly until the tears stopped.
It was my father.
I don’t know what’s troubling you, but whatever it is tonight when you lay your head on your pillow maybe the Father is saying to you, “Child, just be still and toss those troubles up here and go to sleep. There’s no use both of us staying up all night.”
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