I have been thinking lately about fear, and how it is much like a kitten stuck up a tree. Fear will turn an adorable, soft, ball of fur purring in your lap into a biting, spitting insane little thing that, according to Calvin and Hobbes, is “pointy on all five ends.”
You can’t talk a frightened kitten down once it has begun to climb and has run out of tree at the top. It’s afraid to climb down, and doesn’t trust anyone else to help it down, either. All you can do with a kitten up a tree is leave it there, or climb a ladder and grit your teeth, for it will fight you all the way down, sinking its tiny claws into your arm,your chest, your back, trying to get away from you- its rescuer. It’s the same with a drowning man. You may have to knock a man out to save him from drowning and keep him from taking you down with him.
Fear is a powerful force. It gives you extraordinary strength, but it’s a strength that almost always works against you. Fear makes you sink your fingernails in, and hunker down, paralyzed into inaction, until, in the words of Johnny Mathis, you are “as helpless as a kitten up a tree.”
Jesus is well aware of what fear can do to a person. He knows that the powers of this world capitalize on that fear; using it to keep people right where they want them – stuck in a death grip, unable to act on their own behalf. And, panic-stricken people will often resist any well- meaning attempt from others to help them out.
The Good News of Jesus is that he has conquered fear! The stranglehold the enemy has on humankind is now just an illusion! People are no longer helpless! Jesus will come to the rescue, if only people will let him! But here’s the thing. Jesus will not climb up a tree that you are stuck in and wrestle you down. Jesus calls your name and waits until you are ready to release your grip on the branch. Jesus will not dive into the water and deliver a swift right hook to the chin, then drag you, unconscious, to shore. Jesus will swim out to you and offer his hand, holding it out for as long as it takes you to grasp it.
Jesus will never give up trying to save us, but, we can resist his aid.We can choose to keep battling the waves till our strength gives out,or sit in the crook of the tree until our life gives out.
We who have released ourselves into the arms of the Savior live in gratefulness to him for having conquered fear – for rescuing us,again and again, in those moments when fear threatens to overtake us and we can’t seem to move. And, we are here to tell you that if you find yourself stuck in fear for your life, there is one who can set your feet back on solid ground, if only you will allow him to carry you to safety – Jesus, our ladder to heaven, our life-preserver. He is patiently waiting for a signal from you.May you trust him enough to grasp hold of the hand he offers…
Pastor Barb <><
But [Jesus] said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”