Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fear and Faith, II

I posted my first observations on fear and faith on Saturday, June 14. Since then, I have had time to think even more about those two cornerstones of understanding the Almighty. I became uncertain that I had presented the case for fear as well as I should. We have an abundance of every day analogy to substantiate an actual need for fear.

It is well known among men with dangerous occupations that they prefer to work alongside others who have a measure of fear. Fear engenders respect for the unsafe tasks at hand. It is an inner mechanism which prompts preparation to face danger and requires the participant to stifle any cavalier attitudes or rash behavior. Among my favorite History Channel programs are “Ice Road Truckers,” “Axe Men,” “Deadliest Catch,” and a new one about the perils of the “oil patch.” Working in these dangerous environments, the men portrayed all admit to and understand the importance of fear as part of their job. Only after they clearly understand the perils thoroughly are they able to ply their chosen occupations successfully. In each case, they seek personal goals but not to the exclusion of the realities of their work.

During the late seventies and the eighties, we as a family were in the gun, knife and martial arts equipment business. Our lives were wrapped up in handling dangerous weapons on a constant basis. I freely acknowledge that a pervasive constant fear was a part of that enterprise. We formed a set of rules which were useful for our well being then and they continue to serve all our family members to this day. Never reach for a falling knife; better a broken product than an injured hand. ALL firearms are loaded; once that concept is ingrained and heeded, there is no chance of accidental discharge. A complete knowledge of the potential for harm then allows for the safe handling and storage of dangerous merchandise such as gun powder, ammunition and edged weapons. In the knife department, our crudely formed motto signaled the warning for each day: “If it don’t shave, it ain’t sharp!” We enjoyed a reputation in our community of customers as a group of happy, fun loving guys who took weapons handling very seriously.

In the military, the general rule is that heroes are feted after the fact but not encouraged. A man seeking to show his bravado is shunned by those who are engaged in the deadly arts of war. Most men who have earned citations for valor under fire in retrospect have often questioned their own actions as foolhardy even though necessary. In most circumstances their recognition of the common good overrode their sense of self. Early in my military experience it was my privilege to have Captain Tomaczk as a company commander. He held that most precious of military decorations, the Congressional Medal of Honor which he had been awarded during WWII. His manner and deportment was closer to your tax accountant than it was to Rambo. There was no loud talk, rash action, or self aggrandizement in his makeup. His most intense desire was that we all be trained well to insure our survival. Although a matter of public record, he never offered to share how he came to receive the award.

As a man, my experiences have emphasized men and fear. In no way do I imply that fear only regulates the lives of men. It is also that which drives women to undertake the vicissitudes of life with understanding and courage.. Who among us has not known women who have faced down life’s challenges despite concerns for the world about them? Even the prospect of that most marvelous experience of bringing the newborn life has to be rife with fear. Once again we see fear abated by the concern for others.

My prompting to add to this subject was presented by the arrival of three golfers this morning. The group was a father and two sons. The kids, about 11 and 13, were standard for the Ozarks. Happy, smiling, courteous, eager and hungry, were all descriptive as they came into the snack bar. The father would have been exceptional in any venue. He played the Goliath to their David. He was huge, not fat and awkward but three hundred well placed pounds he carried with grace. He shared all the characteristics I just mentioned for the kids. As I saw his gentleness demonstrated with the younger boy, I immediately recalled my treatise about faith and fear. Here in front of my eyes was the demonstration of our ideal relationship with God. A visible example, it could be understood by the most hardened sinner.

Here was a man of great strength and power with the gentleness of a lamb. He is a man with the potential to react with deadly violence who showed superb patience with these two youngsters in his care. Their response to him showed the return of his love, their eagerness to please and their unflagging respect. I was stunned to be witness to an excellent example of what had been occupying my mind. I could claim that God staged this for me to fully appreciate our relationship. I would, but, I think that examples of His love surround us daily if our minds are only attuned.

As they departed down the first hole I noted that all three were in the cart together. As course marshal, I winked at our rules because I knew he would not choose between the lads to ride with him. For what it’s worth, the thirteen year old was by far the best golfer of the group. I had already established who the current best father was. I suspect as a result of having the father they do, the boys will each be in contention for the title at a later date.

So I have come to the conclusion that whether you are handling bombs, boys, babies, or Bowie knives, fear is an extremely healthy thing. Personally I have come away from the entire experience with a far better understanding of my relationship with my heavenly Father.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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