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What are you afraid of? At a recent youth group meeting we talked about fears. Some of the kids were eating “worms” and swallowing “whales” during a game of “Fear Factor.” Our youth are afraid of heights, spiders and creepy men at parades. I used to be afraid of big cities, namely – Chicago.

Up until a few weeks ago, I never wanted to go to Chicago for much of anything at all. Sure, I’d get on the Moody Bus for Founder’s Week. But that trip was door-to-door. The bus took us everywhere we needed to go, and exploring the big city was optional.

My fear was mainly about getting lost. How do people ever get around in the big city? I wondered. Who can ever figure out the public transportation system? Cabs are way too expensive! Mix that fear with the fear of the unknown. What if I get into a “bad” part of the city and don’t realize it?

Like most phobias, mine turned out to be largely unfounded. I was able to overcome my fears through understanding and knowledge. Allow me to explain.

The local library was sending a few representatives to Chicago to the Illinois Library Association’s annual meeting. Though I would have preferred it be in Peoria, I volunteered to go. Then I went to the internet to find out the best way to get there.

I don’t know if my choice was the best way, but I learned that one can drive up to Joliet and catch the Chicago Metra into the city. That was my plan. A car ride, a train trip and one bus connection to the Navy Pier Conference Center.

Not only did I survive that trip, I found it to be quite pleasurable. The next week, when my wife’s mother was here for a visit, we went up to Chicago via similar methods. It was a great day with none of the big city headaches that I would have imagined. Knowledge had alleviated fear.

In our youth group meeting, we transitioned from phobias to fear of God. The Bible says that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10). We spent a while discussing what it means to fear God. Some people have watered down that word “fear” to make it mean something similar to “respect” or “appreciate.” That’s not the picture the Bible paints of the reaction people have when facing God. Read the Old or New Testament. When people encounter God, they are afraid. He is, after all, the LORD of the Universe and Creator of all things! I can see where fear would be in order.

Here’s where understanding and knowledge confront fears yet again. In Isaiah 41, God tells His chosen people that, because of their relationship with Him, they should “fear not.” He will watch over them and care for them because He loves them.

There’s something to be thankful for, isn’t it? God is someone to be feared – and He should be feared. We would be wise to always remember that. But…. God has also reached out to us in love, through His Son, Jesus, who tells us that we are now God’s children, His friends and – as the Church – His bride. “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

If you want to know more about this wonderful love relationship with God, I recommend reading His Word, The Bible. Understanding and knowledge are terrific tools in making one wise. His Words have a unique ability to shed light into our darkness.

So, as the nights get longer and darkness grows, turn to the Light. As we move from the month of scary things and into the season of thanksgiving, be thankful for God’s Word. It won’t be long now until, out of the darkness, the Bright and Morning Star appears.

Praying that all of your fears lead you to Wisdom,

Pastor Clint

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