Pause for thought

Fear, Faith, Fun

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There’s a group of folks, dear friends of mine, with whom I worship every week, who are certifiably bonkers!

You’d never guess this by just looking at them — they are seemingly ordinary folks, young and old, married and single, male and female, students and professionals, but they are out-of-their-mind crazy people! I’m not going behind their backs in telling you this because I have explained their madness to them at some length, but their consistent response is just to try to evangelize me into joining their insanity!

In the past I have invested a great deal of time and treasure to pursue a childhood dream of obtaining a pilot’s license and owning an airplane. I have enjoyed and shared that privilege by inviting friends and family to climb aboard and bore holes in the sky with me. I have taken great pains never to frighten anyone or cause them anxiety. All my training was focussed on safety first and checklist upon checklist would be completed before loosing the surly bonds of earth. My 70-year-old Mom climbed in with me and loved the whole experience!

You can imagine my shock and horror when these aforementioned friends of mine paid good money to climb aboard a plane, fly to a height of three miles above the earth (5km if that is your measurement of choice) and then purposely abandon a perfectly good aircraft and entrust their lives to a flimsy film of fabric! What madness is this? The law of gravity is inevitably unforgiving, and respects no one. Although the fall may be benign and even thrilling (if you enjoy an adrenaline high!), the required stop at the end can be abrupt, sudden and fatally catastrophic! I have repeatedly pointed out that abandoning ship when there is no compelling reason top do so can lead to only a few outcomes, all of which are bad except one. They shrug off my advice and go back for more.

They tell me that there is an element of fear, but if you have faith in your equipment, the aforementioned flimsy film of fabric, it is more fun than any human should be allowed to have at one time. They believe that faith overcomes fear and leads to fun!

All this came to mind as I thought of the number of times, especially in the New Testament, faith was the key ingredient of a miracle. When a helpless, hopeless human in a dire situation was brought to Jesus, inevitably he engineered a miracle and attributed the outcome to the faith of the believer.

Except, of course, in the very sad commentary on his home town of Nazareth:

“Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Matthew 13:54-58 NIV

Faith is a willingness to substitute and acknowledge self-effort as futile and instead place trust in another agency.

Notice that Jesus was always delighted to find people willing to trust in him, and they never left disappointed. Fear was always replaced by joy (I’d have loved to say “fun” but that would trivialize a life-changing experience.) Jesus sometimes used illogical and downright strange methods to amplify his teaching about faith, for example: putting mud on the eyes of a blind man, but it was always the recipient’s willingness to trust in him - regardless of how illogical his instructions might seem — that brought about the life altering change.

My free-falling loony friends tell me they are never the same after a successful sky dive. I suspect the adrenaline experience just heightens their sense of invulnerability.

May I suggest the same will be true if you will bring the fearful circumstances of your life to Jesus. If you will follow his prescriptions, not trying to substitute you own understanding - no matter how illogical it may seem to you, no matter how slim the chances seem, no matter how flimsy the proposed solution — then he will give you beauty for ashes and turn your mourning into dancing.

Whatever caused you to fear, when exposed to faith in the creator, governor and preserver of the universe who is focussed on your well-being, will be replaced by joy (and maybe even fun!)

Please put your trust in Jesus for every aspect of your life! Please pray for the safety of my crazy friends!

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

Saturday May 14th, 2022
Saturday April 30th, 2022