Don't Be Afraid

I was afraid.  That’s it, the bottom line reason that one servant in the parable of the talents got thrown into the outer darkness.  I was afraid.

I’ve heard this parable dissected a million and one ways.  I participated in those reindeer-games myself, years ago.  But not anymore.  This story is not about faithful service and doubling your investment or laziness or even about your talents/abilities/gifts/whatever…lord, I get nauseous just thinking about all the cheerleading routines built on those steps.  No, this is a story about those three little words that make heaven itself weep and gnash – I was afraid.

I believe that’s why Jesus mounted the platform, disrobed himself of glory and dove down, down, down into this cockeyed sea called life…he doesn’t want us to be afraid.  Yes, he came to seek and save and set the captives free and heal the sick, yes, yes, yes, all those things, but if you reach in and grab the heart of those truths and rip it out and hold it bloody-high, it beats with one phrase – don’t be afraid.

I realize that can turn into its own pep rally, complete with cocks-on-the-walk sporting know God, no fear t-shirts and sticker bumpers.  I realize that.

Right now there are a handful of things I’d like to do, try, even be.  As I’ve pondered these lately, the only reason I can come up with for not doing, trying, or being is I’m afraid.  Sure, maybe the money’s not there or the timing’s not right or there’s not consensus…I'm betting the asphalt in hell has been mixed with such intentions.

We’re afraid of earthquakes and aftershocks.  We’re afraid of where the economy’s going.  We’re afraid of losing our jobs.  We’re afraid of what the culture is doing to the kids.  We’re afraid of terror in the skies.  We’re afraid of the current administration or the residue of the last.  We’re afraid of ridicule, failure, and being black-balled from the orthodox.  We’re afraid we can’t put it down or can’t get it up.  In the midst of these perfect storms with waves that threaten to overtake, Jesus surfaces, shakes his divine mane, and treads, treads the very hydrogen and oxygen molecules he wooed together and bobs up, down, up, down, while whispering in a voice pep rallies know little of – don’t be afraid.

Me: But Lord, I’m scared (tear falls, teeth grind).

Jesus: (wild-eyed)  John, I didn’t say don’t be scared.  I said don’t be afraid.     


  1. I love those closing words (and the one all before it too). I've thought for a while there was a distinction we unfortunately miss between "being afraid" and "feeling fear," you nailed it.

    I'm going to take in these words today, really take them in.

  2. I'm usually afraid to fail. Which leads me to not trying. So yeah, I don't fail, but I also don't succeed.

    Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes:
    "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
    - Theodore Roosevelt

  3. nicely said. Good show and even better words.

  4. Sometimes I think we're afraid to fail, and sometimes, we fear the change that success might bring.

  5. Thought provoking post, John. I think we live in a culture of fear. The Body of Christ needs to rise up and be a culture of faith.

  6. Again, this underlies for me that I usually depend on feelings, rather than truth. Trying to change that. They only dovetail some of the time.