Thursday, May 13, 2010

Because I am Afraid

Over this last week, I've been reading Chesterton's book The Man Who Was Thursday. It was recommended to me by Michael and so far I'm enjoying the story.

A conversation took place in the book that grabbed my attention. I can't stop thinking about it. It takes place between two men, the Professor and Syme. These men are both detectives who are spies in a small group of anarchists. They are somewhat relieved because they just found out that the other is a detective as well. They begin to talk about the leader of the anarchist group and the following conversation occurs:
"Yes," he said in a voice indescribably, "you are right. I am afraid of him. Therefore I swear by God that I will seek out this man who I fear until I find him, and strike him on the mouth. If heaven were his throne and the earth his footstool, I swear that I would pull him down."

"How?" asked the Professor. "Why?"

"Because I am afraid of him," said Syme; "and no man should leave in the universe anything of which he is afraid."

De Worms blinked at him with a sort of blind wonder. He made an effort to speak, but Syme went on in a low voice, but with an undercurrent of inhuman exaltation--

"Who would condescend to strike down the mere things that he does not fear? Who would debase himself to be merely brave, like any common prizefighter? Who would stoop to be fearless--like a tree? Fight the thing that you fear. You remember the old tale of the English clergy man who gave the last rites to the brigand of Sicily, and how on his death-bed the great robber said, 'I can give you no money, but I can give you advice for a lifetime: your thumb on the blade, and strike upwards.' So I say to you, strike upwards, if you strike at the stars." (p.49)
That is remarkable logic to be able to say that because I am afraid of him I will seek him out. I am afraid of many things. I probably fear rejection most of all, so I avoid conflict and orient my life in order to have everyone like me. My fear often leads me to avoid a situation or avoid confronting someone when engaging would be the most loving thing to do. I'm also afraid of speaking in front of other people, fearing that I wouldn't be able to live up to what I perceive their expectations are of me.

There is a deep desire in me to leave this world without something of which I am afraid. Or rather, I long to get done with my life knowing that I at least exhibited courage in the face of my fears instead of letting them control and crush me. I know this can only happen as I understand the degree to which I am loved by God in Christ. As I rest in his pronouncement of "Well done" over my life I can have fear removed and be able to say with another David:
When I afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? - Psalm 56:3-4


  1. i like when you talk about understanding the degree to which God loves us.....i agree and think the more we learn and can somehow grasp that unfathomable love, the more our worries and fears will disappear. His love truly fixes it all!

  2. i am your roomie and I am not sure I knew you were reading another Chesterton book....jealous. Like the post and like watching you process courage/fear/failures/his successes