Saturday, March 21, 2009


I know where the expression "cold feet" comes from. I've felt it. When you have an attack of serious fear, there is a sensation of chilling in the feet and lower legs. It happened to me when I was badly affected by clinical depression, brought on by a constant sense of danger. It is not as though I had to go into combat or something, it only took 25 years working as a teacher in 'disadvantaged' high schools. One the one hand you have a duty of care to students, which requires you to prevent bullying (and quite rightly too) but on the other hand if you ever firmly instruct a student to cease and desist from bullying or other obnoxious behaviour, they are likely to accuse you of picking on them and threaten to complain to a lawyer. And the so-called
'leaders' of the school tell you it is your own fault it happened. "You should have handled it better". And just as women live with the fear of sexual assault, men live with the fear of being falsely accused of it. And some female high school students I had to work with were damaged, and dangerous. Staff were warned, they were capable of trying to lie adults into trouble. Men have been lynched because of lying accusations. After a quarter century of it, despite praying and seeking the help of God, enough was enough. Christians still bleed when they are cut, after all. Going through this must be God's plan for my life experience, which we know is not all a easy and convenient. We all have trials to face. This was one of mine. And it brought on depression and a sense of fear. Once when I was cooking a meal, while my wife was putting linen away, it hit me right out of the blue: a shocking sense that something terrible was going to happen. Part of it was the physical sense of 'cold feet'. Men are supposed to 'tough it out', according the the macho culture of the world. But men can be fools, and ignore the call of God. Happily for me I was called by God, so I did not have to deal with it alone. I would have gone under if I'd tried.
I'm putting it down in writing because some very valuable words came to me, and helped me through it. I'm very grateful for the Gideons Bible in our house, which suggests helpful reading for situations. That is how I came upon some favourite Bible verses. Psalm 56 says: "When I am afraid I will trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust,
I will not be afraid.
Whaat can mortal man do to me?"

Psalm 118:6 says "The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do
to me?"
The cynical answer is that humans can kill you - but only the body, not the soul, and NOTHING happens to us that God does not allow and know we can bear. I need to know that!

There are numerous passages on this theme. One more worth mentioning here is from
Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose heart is steadfast, because he trusts in You."

An important thing to note there is that the believer has to trust, and stick to God's path. There is an image from "Pilgrim's Progress" (I think) in which two leopards are chained on either side of a narrow path. The chains are such that they cannot reach anyone passing who sticks to that narrow track. They can lunge very close, so close that you could clearly see them and feel their hot breath, but they can't reach you if you just stick to the path. They can be seriously frightening. It can stress you; but if you remember to stick to the path, you are safe. The symbol is obvious. Extreme danger can threaten you, but not reach you. Nothing will overcome anyone except what God allows. No hurt can fall on one of God's followers that He does not know they can bear. If it comes to death, then it is because God's time has come. But the greatest difficulty is fear. Like depression, it is one of the evil one's ways of sapping the will to live and overcome. And it is an illusory threat from an enemy already beaten, although still dangerous to the unsuspecting. Even though it was not said in a Christian context there is truth in the saying of F.D Roosevelt during the Great Depression: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." As Jesus said, "In this world you will have troubles. But take courage. I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).


Farrah said...

Amen, Andrew! I love how you have turned to scripture for help. That also has helped me get through low times in illness. Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life!

It is unfortunate that we all have wounds. It is part of life in this cursed world, and I know it makes God sad to see them. But He provides all the help we need, and in the end we are more useful for His service because of our trials. :-)

JMMEE said...

So well written. Whether it be fear of something happening or fear of failure, we are well advised through Scripture to turn to the One who controls all and allow Him to carry us through. Ever so hard is it to trust, but it is only that trust that gives us the strength to move forward through the hard times, the painful times, the fearful times.
Praise be that you know the One in whom all mankind can find and have perfect trust.
Blessings to you for your forthright, aptly shared thoughts on a topic we all face and for the exhortation to turn to Him in those times of fear.

jel said...

Hi Andrew,

hope y'all are doing well!

jeleasure said...

Hi Andrew, I have been on call this weekend and have not had time to devote to blogging. I will return later this evening (I hope) to read your new post.

jeleasure said...

O.k., Andrew.

I found time to come back and read. I'm inpressed that you know Roosevelt's quote. I was not aware of how extensive his reach was on the world.

It is true. We fear, fear! We fear what is possible. And, you know, if we have to endure our worst fears, even those will pass. In life or death, the reality of our fear will pass. And, God is sovereign. He's in control.

What is sad, though, is what we will have to endure. In our economic condition, I fear not being able to support my wife. I fear loosing our home. I fear dying in that condition. Those are realities of people whom I never want to have to share.

Randi Jo :) said...

Thank you for those reminders! I pray you are doing wonderfully

sue said...

Hi Andrew - I just wrote about a movie called On the Beach - takes place in Australia. Ever heard of it?