One hot day in July, a farmer sat lazily on the porch of his shack, whittling on a piece of wood. A neighbor dropped by for a visit and asked him, “Did you get your cotton harvested yet?” Without looking up from his whittling, the farmer answered, “Didn’t plant none. ‘Fraid of the boil weevil.” The neighbor nodded his head understandingly and said, “Yes, those little insects can sure lay waste to a good field of cotton and bankrupt a man. I can’t say as I blame you.”
Still wanting to find a subject for conversation, the neighbor tried again. “So have you got a good stand of corn?” he asked. The farmer, continuing to look down at his whittling, said, “Didn’t plant no corn neither. ‘Fraid of drought.” Again the neighbor nodded his head knowingly and said, “Well I can’t blame you there. This weather has gotten so crazy that nobody can tell if or when it’s going to rain.”
Now the neighbor was feeling a little embarrassed for his lack of knowledge about the man’s farm, but he decided to try one more time. Cautiously he said, “Well, if you didn’t plant any cotton or corn, I guess you planted potatoes. How are they doing? Does it look like you’re going to have a good harvest there?” But the farmer didn’t change his actions or his tone as he replied, “Ain’t got no taters neither. ‘Fraid of the tater bugs.” One more time the neighbor nodded his head in agreement as he said, “Yes, I hear those pesky beetles can ruin a whole field if they get in there good. And you don’t want that happening to you.”
By this time the neighbor was thoroughly ashamed of himself for not knowing more about the farmer’s fields, and so he figured it was time for some apologizing. He said to the farmer, “I beg your pardon for not keeping up with you better. I’ve just been so busy myself lately that I haven’t paid much attention to what’s been going on over here. So tell me, what did you plant this year?” The farmer, still not looking up from his whittling, dryly answered, “Nothin.’ I just played it safe.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once famously told the American people, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” At the time, America was in the throes of the Great Depression and that was causing people to run to their banks and withdraw all their money for fear they would lose it if the banks closed. Roosevelt was trying to curb that rising tide.
While I understand the need for the reassurance the quote offered at that moment in history, the fact is that this world really can be a frightful place. All the reassuring words in the vocabulary won’t stop a loss of employment, a termination notice, a bad medical diagnosis, a death, a terrorist act, etc. It’s like the little boy who got bit by a dog. His mother said, “Now son, if that dog hadn’t sensed fear in you, it wouldn’t have bitten you. I believe your real problem was your fear, not that dog.” To that the little boy replied, “No, my real problem was that mean ole’ dog. I wasn’t one bit afraid until he came along.”
As you read these words, you might have something in your life that has got you scared right now, and I’m not going to minimize your very real problem by chiding you with, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.” No, I’ll give you credit that what you’re dealing with is fear worthy. All I’ll say is that Jesus Christ stands ready and willing to help you overcome your fear.
One of Christ’s favorite exhortations to His followers was, “Fear not.” Those words held true for the likes of Peter, James, John, and Matthew, and they will hold true for you as well if you will believe in Jesus as your personal Savior and ask Him to help you with what’s got you scared. Whether it’s a boil weevil, a drought, a potato beetle, a dog, or something else, He can provide you with help and guidance. So turn to Him today and experience the emboldening that only He can bring.