Friday, April 13, 2018

Good dog or ferocious dog?

Someone once said "faith" has a twin - "doubt". Is it possible that maybe "faith" has a triplet brother - "fear"? Doubt and fear reside alongside each other so much of the time. We may not want to admit it, but when we are doubtful, we have an element of fear that begins to creep into our thoughts and affect our emotions. Doubt leads us to take certain actions or respond in a specific manner. Fear is part of that reaction to doubt. If a large, ferocious looking dog approached me at a dead run, I probably don't have any need to have a sign over the dog's head that tells me I am about to get mauled! Some things we just 'fear' because we have absolutely no doubt about their intent! At other times, doubt just barely creeps in like the tiny chihuahua pattering our way who looks harmless, but when close enough, those teeth can nip at our heels - maybe not with as much power as the huge over-powering dog, but they can still do damage. If both dogs bear their teeth whenever I am around them, I will not trust either one! If the next time I see them they are both wagging their tails and happy to see me, I will likely be a little doubtful they won't 'turn' on me. Past experiences play into doubt, as well as the unknown of what we have never experienced before. Fear has a foundation in both - the outcomes of past experiences often overshadowing what we believe will be the case each time we approach anything even remotely similar in life.

Teach a wise man, and he will be the wiser; teach a good man, and he will learn more.  For the reverence and fear of God are basic to all wisdom. Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.  “I, Wisdom, will make the hours of your day more profitable and the years of your life more fruitful.”  Wisdom is its own reward, and if you scorn her, you hurt only yourself. (Proverbs 9:9-12 TLB)

A lot of our doubt and fear is based in not knowing what it is we are trusting in at that moment. If we are trusting in the past outcomes as the basis of how we approach things in this lifetime, we will never step out into anything new. If we are always doubtful anything good will come of any new venture, we hold ourselves back from ever taking the first step. There is no change the occurs without the first step - there is no fear overcome without first exposing what we fear to truth. In the case of those two dogs - not all dogs growl, bear their teeth and take joy in noshing on your flesh! To judge all dogs as 'man-eating ferocious creatures' is to exclude a whole lot of really friendly and loving dogs from ever getting near enough to us to change our impression of dogs! All things we fear or doubt must be held up to truth - for truth exposes the reality behind the impression fear or doubt is making upon all the rest of our emotions at that very moment. The good news is that we are never bound by our fears or doubts - we CAN move out from under their control. They aren't our permanent!

Change, or seeing things from a totally new perspective, can oftentimes be the result of having refused to believe what our past experiences have dictated as things we should fear or doubt. It is true we should be concerned that a car coming at us while we are trying to cross the street at the crosswalk brings a mounting fear within. Should that keep us from attempting to ever cross the street? Cars have the capability of striking us down, even doing harm to us. Not every driver behind the wheel will be distracted and not see us, though. Almost every time the drivers of those cars note someone is in the crosswalk, slow down, and stop so as to allow the walker safe passage. The walker must trust in the things put there for their safety - the crosswalk lines, signal that alerts to the safe time to walk across, and the visibility created by us crossing at those designated locations. We have much more to fear when we are attempting to 'cross outside those lines' in life. These are the times when doubt and fear might just niggle us into reconsidering where it is we are heading - this is when doubt and fear are 'good companions'. You see....fear and doubt can be either a 'good dog' or a 'ferocious dog' in our path. We cannot just take them on face-value. We must test them against faith - faith being rooted and grounded in truth. Just sayin!