Conquering fear with faith…

July 19, 2017

Fear of the unknown is at the root of most of the fears that seek to control us. We don’t do things that we may wish to do because we are fearful of some unknown (and unknowable) outcome. We don’t reach out to others because we fear an unknown outcome, perhaps rejection or worse. We don’t stretch ourselves and go for that new jobtimid or try that new sport because we don’t know enough about them and fear the consequences of those unknowns.

Perhaps no unknown is more feared than death. We think about it, but we can’t imagine what it will be like and what, if anything, comes after death. That is where faith comes in. Faith in God and His son Jesus is the only real option that you have when facing death. Jesus promised us life after death when he said “Where I go there you will be also” and many other comforting passages from the Bible. Having faith can help you conquer many fears while you are here on earth; however, the biggest fear that faith can help you conquer is the fear of death.

Our human imaginations help us find solutions to many of the problems that we VR2encounter in life; however, our imaginations at too often limited by our understanding of the physical world around us and the knowledge that we might have accumulated in life. We tend to frame things, including our ability to imagine life after death in very restrictive human terms. Some religions have very elaborate descriptions of life after death that imagine things almost completely in normal human terms. Other religions define the afterlife in terms that not even they understand. Even Christian religion uses descriptions of the afterlife in heaven that the common man might relate to – a “house with many rooms”; however, it is also alluded to a “peace that passes all understanding”.

As humans we tend to define what we hope heaven is like in terms that we can relate to. We hope to see loved ones there. We hope that our past pets might be there also. We depict people in white robes with wings and halos. We see it as a bright light at the endhelping hands of a tunnel. We do all that we can to imagine it as something warm and bright and comfortable, because we are trying to overcome our fear of the unknown. If any and all of that makes you feel better about it, imagine away; however, know that it is your faith that there is a life after death, that you will be with Jesus in His Father’s House and that your earthly fears and concerns and pains will all drop away.

What will it be like? No one can know until they get there, but we can be sure in our faith that it will be wonderful. Let your anticipation of what is to come next become stronger than your fear of the transition to that next life. That is called faith and faith conquers fear every time.

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Trying to understand the greater happiness…

February 22, 2017

Jack Freed use this quote in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – recently – “Smile, things are going to work out.  You may not see it now, but you’re being directed to a much greater happiness.”  (ThisInspiresUs). Jack went on to write – Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled or afraid…I am with you.”  That’s the greater happiness.

hurry hurryIn today’s find it now, buy it now, do it now world, having the patience, the perseverance and faith to wait for that greater happiness goes against the grain. We have become an instant gratification society, while religion has remained a “hope for it, pray for it, wait for it” practice.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to having the faith that the promised “greater happiness” will come is dealing with the fact that this state of greater happiness will come after we have left this earth. For many people, the thought that they have to die to be born again into the state of greater happiness is not something that can easily accept or internalize. People want that state of greater happiness now, here, while they can enjoy it within the

mystery head

current physical world that they know. They cannot even conceive of the next life, the one promised to those who believe in and accept Jesus as their savior.

Another factor is the kind of hazy descriptions that we have of that next life – a house of many rooms, one of which will be ours or a peace that passes all understanding or looking upon the face of God. We have a hard time relating to that within the context of what we understand about this life. Some other religions have created extensive and elaborate descriptions of the afterlife, mostly using terms and examples from this life, so that the adherents can relate to it. It is so much easier to imagine Heaven as being just like this world only better.

Perhaps a big part of our challenge as Christians is to let go of any thoughts about this life and this world and just trust that the next life and the greater happiness that is promised to us there. We need to stop worrying about whether we’ll be reunited with our lost loved
ones in heaven or whether our past pets will be there with us. That’s all the stuff of this world. We should focus instead on the fact that we will be united with Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit and all of the Saints in a greater happiness that we can’t even imagine – fee of pain, free of cares, free of fears, free.

So, maybe believewe need to substitute much more believing, in place of all of the effort we make to try to understand the unimaginable. We can’t and don’t need to understand, we just need to believe and accept. Once we let go of the things of this life, we are ready for the things that come in the next. It is sort of like those cute ads for the web site LetGo.com; we have to let go of the things we don’t really need any more for this life and certainly not for the next. If I can let go of the baggage of this life and just believe; I’ll be better prepared to experience the promised greater happiness – maybe I’ll even experience a little of it here. What a wonderful thought that is to focus upon today.

Let go and have a great day!


No thanks; I’ll take the stairs…

March 14, 2016

“The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about expected traffic numbers.”  (Shower Thoughts) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

My mom also often used the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I RoundTuitsuppose that road is marker with round tuits, which you always meant to get. The side roads to that destination probably are named Coulda, Woulda and Shoulda. It’s no wonder that traveling on that path is often referred to “going down the road to ruin.”

The climb to heaven must seem daunting to many, too; since Jack went on to remind usfacing stairs that Jesus said it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven. Of course He was talking about earning your way into heaven. He went on to explain that we get in to Heaven through the grace of God by accepting Him as our Savior.

So, if we can’t earn our way to Heaven, why live a good life in communion with God and perhaps service to others? The answer to that has to do with being ready for your own final judgement. No one knows when their time will come and no one is going to be given the time to say “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness at the end. It seems to make much more sense to be ready at any time.

Being ready means having a steady and meaningful relationship with God and the willingness to accept His will for your life. Most find that God’s will involves helping others and doing what’s right as you live out your days. From that service and acceptance of God’s will comes the peace and contentment with life that others may not understand. helperPerhaps that is how we climb the stairs to Heaven, one stair of service and prayer at a time – not earning our way; but rather, accepting our way into our final reward.

I’m sure that we’ve all met or heard about people who devote their lives to helping others. Mother Teresa in India always comes to mind; but there’s countless people right in our own communities that serve the needs of others. I think of the people of Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) in my community who serve the needs of adult special needs people living independently in our neighborhoods and the volunteers at Community Sharing who provide food and services to those in need in our area. You may not see them providing those services; but maybe that’s just because they are a little ahead of you on the stairway.

So, this week, as life throws in your face the opportunities for you to get on the highway toclimbing stairs hell, just say, “No thanks; I’ll take the stairs.” It doesn’t matter how far along you are; at least you’re going in the same direction, if you’re on that stairway. So, take your first step up today.

 


Time – Life’s one-way street…

June 12, 2015

Yesterday I got a “like” message from Chris Nicholas, an Australian author. I visited his blog as I do just with just about everybody who takes the time to comment on my blog or “like” it. While there I was introduced to a word that I had not heard or used before –  Thanatophobia. Chris has a nice post about that word and its meaning in his life, which you can read here. Basically Thanatophobia is an overwhelming anxiety about one’s own death. Perhaps it is brought about by the realization that time is a one-way street.

overwhelmedThe name Thanatophobia is made from the Greek figure of death known as Thanatos. Thanatophibia or death anxiety is the morbid, abnormal or persistent fear of one’s own mortality. One definition of death anxiety is a “feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to ‘be’”. It is distinguished from necrophobia, which is a specific fear of dead or dying persons and/or things (i.e. others who are dead or dying, not one’s own death or dying).

I suspect that we all experience some form of Thanatophobia in our lives. Hopefully it is mild and fleeting for you and not debilitating. The thing that I think may often precede those thoughts about our own death is the point in time in our lives that we come to the realization that time is a one way street. There is no going back in time. One may try again, but that is not a do-over because time has passed and one cannot get back to a previous state in time. Once you wrap your head around that concept the next thing that pops to mind is that our time, the time we have here in this human state, is limited. There was a beginning (which few of us remember much about) and there will be an end (which none of us can predict). Time is life’s one-way street. No matter how many twists and turns your life may take, time marches on in a straight line and headed towards that inevitable end point.

I suspect that it was this realization that at some point in history caused man to invent modern religions. Before that what might have passed for religion in mankind was more a fear of and wonderment about Nature and the events going on around them. The initial “religions” of mankind didn’t seem to assign human characteristics to the great unknowns praying in different religionsthat they feared or worshiped. It didn’t take too long before man’s growing ego about his place in the world began to be reflected in his religions and he bagan assigning names and human faces and characteristics to the Gods that he imagined – Gods which by then had taken on human visages in many religions.

The next step was man’s need to believe in some role for himself (again an ego-driven thing) after death, which led to the creation of very complex scenarios for life after death. Most modern religions have those scenarios and many of them are very much driven by visions of the afterlife within the context of our current lives – only much better. Most of the afterlife explanations are also derived from male-dominated scenarios, i.e. I will have many wives and they will all be virgins. I can’t see how that would be considered to be heaven for the virgins involved. Perhaps having streets paved with gold and honey flowing like rivers would appeal to some, but may not be for everyone. Most religions, but not all, also settled on a single God, which allowed focus, as opposed to the multiple Gods religions which required worshiping all of them somehow.

So, we now have religions that are there to make us feel better about the end time – our own deaths – and to hold out the hope (a devout Christian would say the certainty) that there is something after death. Fortunately, the Gods that we’ve created look a lot like us so we don’t have to use much imagination to picture them or to depict them in paintings. They have also promised us some level of existence after death and once again made it more convenient for us by excluding those who, unlike us, don’t believe in them. After all, we wouldn’t want our heaven to get too crowded with all of those non-believers. To give the believers something to hold on to all of the modern religions have also created books which are believed to contain the words and wisdom of their Gods and religious leaders, although all of the books were written and edited by men. We have also created elaborate organizations called relions to promote and carry on our beliefs and built buildings in which to gather to worship our Gods. All of this made us feel better about ourselves; yet none of it changed the fact that time is a one-way street.

Is the anxiety about pour own deaths justified or have we created enough of a ruse for ourselves about life after death in our religions to bring us comfort? I suppose that is a question that each person must answer for themselves. My hand reaching for heavenpersonal philosophy is to try to focus more on living each day to its fullest and not to spend time or energy worrying about something that I can neither predict nor prevent. I choose to believe in life after death, but I temper that with a skeptical view that it will involve my physical body or that heaven will look just like earth only better. Making that choice to believe that some “essence” of me will live on after death is an ego thing, too, and I understand that. Still, it is more comforting to believe that than to spend what time I have worrying about death. Time is a one way street and I intend to travel it as far as I can and to spend my time enjoying the journey. At the end of the line, I hope that my faith is the transfer ticket that I believe it is for the next ride.

Have a great day today and don’t worry about tomorrow.