The late, great Texas journalist Molly Ivins was fond of telling a story about two young boys, John Henry Falk and Boots Cooper, who liked to play Texas Rangers.
One day, John Henry’s mother sent the two boys down to the chicken house on their East Texas ranch to roust out a chicken snake that had been doing considerable damage there.
The boys mounted their broom stick horses and galloped down to the chicken house to investigate. They looked all around the nests on the bottom shelf but couldn’t find the snake. Then they stood on tiptoe to see the upper shelf and found themselves face to face with a big ol’ chicken snake. They were so scared that they both tried to run out of the hen house at the same time, doing considerable damage to themselves and to the structure.
Watching the commotion from the front porch Mrs. Falk couldn’t help but laugh. When the boys finally made it back, she said, “Boys, what is wrong with you? You know perfectly well a chicken snake cannot hurt you.” To which Boots Cooper answered, “Yes ma’am, but there’s some things’ll scare you so bad, you’ll hurt yourself.”
In Matthew 24 Jesus noted a bunch of scary things: wars and rumors of war, false messiahs, torture, famines and earthquakes. Sounds pretty much like our daily news. Lord knows, there’s plenty to be anxious about these days.
But the real danger is that we become so frightened that we hurt ourselves (and others). In the face of alarming realities, Jesus urged a Christian calm, endurance in our faith and calling, and a bold confidence that God’s love is stronger than our fears and God’s mercy more enduring than present perils.
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
Save me, Lord, from the sin of faint-heartedness, from a shrinking deference to my fears and a failure to trust your love and purposes as the weightiest thing in my life. Amen. (from StillSpeaking. Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson)