Fear Not, Little Flock

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, Hump Day, June 5, 2013.

There’s really not a whole lot going on this week, other than our usual work stuff. Christi started feeling ill after lunch yesterday, but feels better now. Perhaps she overdid a bit, as her and a friend went out for lunch. It was on the long walk back to her office that she began feeling sick. She’s better this morning, though, and felt better by the time we went to bed last night. I told her she probably should have started back with half-days.

My work week is going much better than last week. There are now thirteen more delivery days on this account. Watch this space for new developments.

Today is World Environment Day.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)

Herbert Horatio Kitchener was a great hero in his day. His face was found on posters encouraging people to join the British Army.
He was “avenger of Gordon, reconqueror of the Sudan, hero of Fashoda, protector of the Northwest frontier, Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, Earl Kitchener of Khartoum,” and now he had been appointed Secretary of State for War in the Asquith government, when Great Britain declared war in 1914, following Germany’s invasion of Belgium. There was a sense that Kitchener could not fail at anything; everything he touched was a success. Unfortunately, “he was a warrior of the 19th century facing warfare on an unprecedented industrial scale.” He couldn’t deal with the scale of war that was happening in WWI. The war dragged on, no end in sight, and his influence began slipping, “his colleagues began to challenge his decisions.” Rather than try to get him to resign, Asquith sent him to Russia “to assess the situation on the Eastern Front.” He was traveling on the armored cruiser Hampshire, on this date in 1916, when she struck a mine in the North Sea. She quickly sank, taking virtually everyone down with her. David Fromkin said this of Kitchener: “If he had died in 1914 he would have been remembered as the greatest British general since Wellington. Had he died in 1915 he would have been remembered as the prophet who foretold the nature and duration of the First World War and as the organiser of Britain’s mass army. But in 1916 he had become the ageing veteran of a bygone era who could not cope with the demands placed on him in changing times.”

Today’s birthday is Richard Scarry, born on this date in 1919. Scarry was an author who wrote and illustrated many children’s books, perhaps best known for Best Word Book Ever, I Am A Bunny, and Busy, Busy World. I definitely remember having some of his books when our daughters were children. Scarry passed away in 1994, just shy of his 75th birthday.

Honorable mentions go to Pancho Villa, 1923, Bill Moyers, 1934, and Freddie Stone, 1946.


Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. Psalm 66:8-9
Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay! Psalm 70:5
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:5-6
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Father, you truly have been my hope since the day I came out of my mother’s womb. “My praise is continually of you.” Teach me your ways, Lord, be my help and my deliverer, as I search your words this morning, looking for a glimpse of your face.

Today’s reading in A Year With God begins the second half of the section on the discipline of guidance. The reading is called “Finding the Way.” The scripture reading is Isaiah 30:19-21.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

It is, too often, hard to hear the voice of God guiding us in the right way. We think we know God’s direction for us, but we just aren’t sure. The task over the next ten days is to seek God’s guidance about a major decision. Now, how did they know I had a major decision coming up?? There are a variety of ways to do this. “You might want to pray about the same thing every day, asking God for confirmation or direction, or, alternately, spend a block of time one day thinking and praying. Another option is to ask several trusted friends to meet with you and talk over and pray about your question.”

Ignatius of Loyola stated, in Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, that “good influences provide courage and strength and produce peace and a greater feeling of love, while choices influenced by evil can be counted on to cause regret, sadness, and disquiet.” I will reflect on this statement as I pray about my decision.

Mercy number 18 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is “Worry is an insult to your Father.” I used to always say that worry is a sin, but I’ve backed off on that just a little, as it sometimes seems to be tied in with personality traits. But this isn’t a psychology blog. Moving along. Charles de Foucauld, who was the founder of an organization called Little Brothers of Jesus, wrote this: “The one thing we owe absolutely to God is never to be afraid of anything.” In Luke 12:32, Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Brennan took the title of this mercy from a bumper sticker he claims to have seen in Texas. “Worry is an insult to your Father.”

We do know this one thing; Jesus had to have been terrified concerning what was coming as he fell on his face in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36) However, his insistence of the final statement in that prayer gave him the strength and courage to carry on. The prayer that Brennan has mentioned previously, “Abba, I belong to you,” is a prayer that can help us center on our identity with God. When praying that prayer, Brennan said, “It was like stepping into a hot bath–just letting the Father’s love seep in, saturate, permeate every part of my being.” We need to let go of worry and fear and allow ourselves to trust in God completely. “It’s one thing to know your Father loves you and quite another thing to experience it.”

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34

Many of us have read those verses hundreds of times in our lifetime. But do we really believe them? Do I truly, in the depths of my heart, believe that God loves me more than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field? Then why do I worry? What do I have to fear? He knows what is best for me, and will take care of me, even though my flesh may die.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:1-7

“I wonder if fear is not our main obstacle to prayer.
When we enter into the presence of God and start to sense
the huge reservoir of fear inside us, we want to run away
into the many distractions, which our busy world offers
so abundantly. But we shouldn’t be afraid of our fears.
We can confront them, give words to them and
lead them into the presence of the One who says,
‘Be not afraid. It is I.'”
Henri J.M. Nouwen

Father, I fear. I confess it. I fear too much. I fear the future. I admit it. What if . . .? I spend too much time thinking, “What if . . .?” What if Christi loses her job in the aftermath of her company’s merger? What if I make the wrong decision in the next week or so? What if this or that doesn’t work out the way we thing it will? What if something happens to us? Who will take care of Stephanie?

I must stop!! Father, I cry out to you to cast out this fear with your perfect love! I have experienced your love! Yes, I have. It is more than just head knowledge. I know that you love me. I know that your love is unconditional, and that there is nothing I can do to separate myself from your love. Take this love and bathe me in it. Let it saturate me, let it permeate me, let it overflow around me. All I want to know is you and your love. “Abba, I belong to you.”

“Abba, I belong to you.”

I pray for this day. I thank you that Christi is feeling better today, and pray that she will not feel ill again today. Give her strength and grace to get through this day. I thank you for an encouraging phone call she got yesterday evening. (You know what I’m talking about, even though I can’t publicize it.) I pray for good results from it. I pray for Stephanie today, that your love would surround her in all she does. I pray for my work day, that it will go smoothly, and that you will help me make a decision that is coming up soon. “Abba, I belong to you.”

I pray for a friend who used to be a work associate, who is having a CAT scan today. May she be cancer free, Lord. I pray for your healing hand on her.

Your grace is sufficient.

“Fear not, little flock.”

Grace and peace, friends.

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