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Be not afraid

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By Ken Begley


Be not afraid.
                 — God
 
It’s pretty scary out there isn’t it?
You know what I mean.   
It doesn’t matter where you work or where you live in this old world.  It’s like everything has dropped off a cliff.  Many families are nervously waiting to see what happens next, if it hasn’t already.
Is there anybody out there that doesn’t know someone that hasn’t been laid off, filed bankruptcy, had their work hours reduced, their factory closed, or if they own a business, seen the number of customers drop?   All this is happening while America runs the largest budget deficits ever seen in history while trying to pump up the economy.  Yep, the old U.S. of A. for the past few years or so has been setting economic records every other day going in the wrong direction.
If you’re single, it’s scary but if you have a family it’s more so.  
A buddy of mine once told me, “You know when I was single it didn’t bother be if I lost my job and had to eat nothing but bologna.  But I sure would hate to go home now and look at my wife and kids knowing they would have to do the same thing.”  I still remember those words some 25 years later.  
You know it’s bad when even young kids start asking you questions that they shouldn’t even have to think about.
A while back I was riding down the road with one of my kids when they started talking about all the families in their class.  They started pointing out that just about everybody in their class seemed rich in comparison to us.  It wasn’t a statement of envy or anger but one laced with concern.  They’re just old enough to know that change is in the air and it isn’t a good change.
They also know how our own family with five kids stretch to do things their friends do without even thinking.  For instance, the older kids in our family have jobs and are expected to pick up many of the expenses that other parents pay as a matter of course. It isn’t done as a learning lesson but one of necessity.
I listened to the child speak and said with a smile, “How’s it feel to be the poorest kid in the class?”
I didn’t say it to make fun of them.  I was curious about what they thought.
The reply was a slow and thoughtful, “Everything is great the way it is.  I’m happy the way we are.”
Then there was pause that spoke volumes because of something troubling them left unasked.
You know what the real unspoken questions were?  
Is anything going to happen to us?  Are you going to lose your job?  Are we going to lose our cars?  Are we going to lose our house?  Could we be homeless like the people on television?  Could everything change?
I glanced over and said, “You’re not worried about us, are you?”
“Well, maybe.”
“Don’t worry.  We’re in great shape.  Things are going well for me at work.  My boss and I have become good friends.  Even if I lost my job we would be fine for years.  Besides it won’t be many more years before I start drawing my army pension from the reserves.  You don’t have to worry.  Shoot, we might even come out of this stronger then we were.”
They seemed a little better but I knew something was wrong about my answer.
You see it?
I never mentioned God once.  I wasn’t even thinking about Him.  That’s always been the mistake of my life.
For most of my life I have put all my faith in money and possessions.  I always thought if I had enough wealth I would have security that no one could take away.  If I had enough wealth, I could buy my wife and kids everything they ever wanted and they would be happy.  Yes sir, it was my firm belief that money was the root to happiness.  
How incredibly stupid could one person, raised by really great and God-fearing parents, be?  How lost I was in a far-away country.
The result of my beliefs was a life of unhappiness and bitterness.  It was worse for anybody whose life was tangled up with me.
It was one of constantly comparing my situation with others.  It was a life where my happiness rose or sunk with the rise and fall of the stock market and interest rates on deposits.  Anybody that got ahead of me was someone to be jealous of.  Anybody that failed would bring me happiness because I was beating them.
You see life was a game and whoever dies with the most “toys” wins.
Well, here’s a lesson for everybody.  
There is no manmade security in this world.  Your life can change in the blink of an eye.  Every possession you have can be taken away from you in an instant. Yes, even you and your family are only one heartbeat away from God.
Yet God did not abandon me to my greed.  
Instead He humbled me and took many of my “toys” away.  He then allowed me years to think over the error of my ways.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I would never have learned anything otherwise.  It’s still a day-to-day battle but I try my best to not go back to the sad days I lived before.
So, I told my kid on that ride home to not worry about what was going on around him but to only worry about his relationship with God.  That’s the only security you have in this world.  It’s the possession that nobody can take away from you.   A true Christian is at peace with the world no matter the circumstances they may find themselves in.
Everything else like money, cars, homes, bank accounts, and so on are nothing more than a joke.  So are the people foolish enough to judge by those standards.  It’s like playing Monopoly because one day you put up the game and go “home”.  We all know where “home” is.
So hang on, trust in God, and remember what He said.
“Be not afraid!”