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Dealing with fear and crisis
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While I was in Sarasota, Florida, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with runaways and develop a method of teaching non-directive counseling to the medical staff at our shelter as well as to interested nurses who wanted to attend some of my classes. The one area that seemed to be of major importance was the session on crisis. One educator wrote, "A crisis develops character." I lean to the definition, "A crisis is the internal reaction to an external event." The reason I say this is that I'm not too sure about the character part, but I do believe that true character is revealed when the whole world seems to have gone insane.

My first — of many — insane times was boot camp. Talking to the recruiter and realizing that I could join the Navy and see the world seemed almost romantic at the time. The day 500 of us were shoved through a shower, stood naked except for a towel and wearing a pair of boots, and had some drill instructor bust our eardrums with a voice that could pierce concrete was the moment when we all looked for the exit sign and thought, "What have we done?"

Some boots cried, some seemed unable to function and some went AWOL. Most of us just sucked it up, did what we were told, made a game out of a lot of the training (how to avoid eating what was called, "liver and onions" and tried not to laugh when we recited, "This is my rifle and this is my gun...."), and marched proudly at our graduation.

By the way, those who find themselves immobilized at a crisis may remain at a lower level of maturity, while those who are able to take effective action truly grow in maturity, capability and confidence.

Before I continue, please do not feel as though fear is a sign of being cowardly or being immature. I believe that the ability to act responsibly in a crisis situation can be taught. A boot camp of any type is not to break down the human body but is to discover and strengthen the human spirit.

Allow me to make a quantum leap. I was very impressed the way those marvelous and talented singers and actors of the recent play, "The Cotton Patch Gospel," presented Matthew's account of the Temptation of Jesus. While Matthew gives us the words, the play gave us a remarkable insight into the human emotions of Jesus. Some may want to envision Jesus as a man totally in control and nearly incapable of hesitation, but after reading carefully Matthew 26 and the agony He experienced at Gethsemane, we may need to accept the fact that Jesus always had choices just like we have choices.

Jesus had not eaten for a very long time and he was starving. I do not read His account with the tempter as a simple confrontation which called for a simple "yes" or "no." I'll bet the tempter held up a freshly baked loaf of sliced homemade cooking with butter and honey on the side that made Jesus' mouth water. What's the harm of a bite of fresh bread? Then there is that snippet from Psalm 91:11, "You won't even stub your toe." When Jesus was able to say, "I don't need your bread to survive and certainly don't need to prove to you or me that my Father will take care of me, then I absolutely don't need to listen to the rest of your nonsense. Get out of here!"

Of course, God knew what Jesus would do. My question, "Did Jesus know what He could do when faced with such choices?"

Almost every step he took was towards an encounter that would prepare him for his greatest and final challenge: go to Jerusalem, suffer humility and disgrace and be crucified alone, denied and deserted.

Did Jesus experience real human fear? I have no reservations when I answer, "Yes, he did."

Did fear overwhelm him? No, because he said, "Nevertheless, I will do what You wish me to do."

Our nation is in a crisis. What will our leaders do? There's a lot of temptation out there. What would God have our elected representatives do? Dog gone it, that's a tough question.

God will help us. Thanks, God.


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