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Fear In The Flesh, But Savor The Soul

FEAR IN THE FLESH, BUT SAVOR THE SOUL

[BY ROBIN PARRISH]

They say the world changed Sept. 11. The world we now live in is a world where everyone around you fears for his life, his safety, his well being. The general sentiment is our world is teetering on spiraling out of control, as we do our best to continue our daily routines.

I got a jump on the world by beginning my lesson in fear on Aug. 23. That was the day the doctor quietly informed us he found a cancerous tumor in my father’s stomach. In one simple statement, the rug was swept out from under us, and everything changed in a single moment. I felt so many things in that fleeting instant: afraid, angry, sad, lonely, small, utterly powerless. The thought Dad’s life could be cut so short, at only 58 years old, before he’d gotten to see me get married and before I’d given him any grandchildren … it was excruciating.

The lesson was completed on Jan. 18, when Dad went to be with his Savior and live in his eternal home. I had never watched anyone die before, and the memory of it has been forever seared into my memory.

Now, when I look at pictures of him, I see someone who can’t possibly be gone. It doesn’t seem possible; it doesn’t seem real. I can still remember him so vividly. The strength of his warm hands. The look in his eyes when he’d glance at me. The sound of his voice. The sound of his laugh. The sound of his pain.

He was an everyday staple of my life for as long as I can remember, and now there’s a gaping hole where he used to be. It’s this utterly empty place where he once was, and now there is simply nothing. The strength and reassurance of his presence has been replaced by the emptiness and loneliness of his absence. It aches in a way that’s beyond emotional. It’s physical. I literally feel him gone.

More than once I’ve woken up in the morning and wondered briefly if it was all just a dream. It had to be. This couldn’t be real. This doesn’t happen.

When everything you have ever known changes in an instant, as it did for me with my father’s death, and for all of us on Sept. 11, it changes your reality forever. Questions, doubts and fears begin to invade your life, little by little, threatening to overwhelm your entire existence.

I was reading a novel one night and one of the book’s characters made an impassioned speech about the soul of man, how the flesh is only a shell and our true selves – our souls – cannot be harmed by the ills of man. The words practically leapt off of the page and into my mind: “It’s the soul, stupid. It’s all about the soul!”

Suddenly, I could see all of the things I’d been wrestling with in a completely different light – a light I never expected. Why did God let my father get sick? I may never know the answer to that, but I do know that God’s greatest concern is with the welfare of man’s soul, not this earthly flesh and bone that we reside in for a brief time. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people when He has the power to prevent it? He could have stopped Sept. 11 from happening, why didn’t He? That’s not for me to answer. What I can tell you is while God is concerned with our lives and our well being, His greatest focus is placed on the state of man’s soul. This earthly shell is extraordinarily temporary, compared to the glory and magnitude of eternity. Everything on earth will pass away; it is only the soul of man that will last.

This is what I believe: if God is the author of all things good, then He doesn’t cause bad things to happen. But He’s able to use them, to redeem them for His own purposes – He’s able to make something beautiful out of what Satan intended for harm.

As hard as it is to accept, as crazy as it may sound to the logical, reasoning centers of our brains, it is selfish of us to place concerns of safety for ourselves and our loved ones above God’s greater purposes. If we do that, we are allowing fear to take precedence over God’s perfect providence. We are limiting the ways in which God can gain glory from His omnipotence.

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If God asks me to relinquish something to Him for His use, I have to let go of it. No matter what, or who, it is. No matter how much it hurts, no matter how much it may frighten me or change my perceptions of the whole world.

I trust God to know what He’s doing, and that stubborn, child-like faith is enough to see me through any crisis I face.

RELATED LINKS:

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN: WHY BAD HAPPENS
GOOD VS. EVIL
WHERE IS GOD?
HOW DEATH AFFECTS THE LIVING

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