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One night when I was about 7, I was convinced there were snakes in my bed. Mom! Dad! Snakes! Help! I yelled. When they appeared, they started to pull back the covers, which I knew would reveal the terrifying creatures lurking near my feet. But with the light on and the covers removed, I could see what was there. To my relief, there wasn’t a snake in sight.
My parents could have simply come to my bedside and, in the dimness of the nightlight, told me not to be scared: “Don’t worry, there are no snakes in your bed.” Or they could have brought the Lord into our midnight conversation: “Don’t be afraid; trust the Lord. You’ll be just fine.” Or they could have said: “Remember our memory verse: ‘When I am afraid, I will trust in you’” (Ps. 56:3).
Mom - Dad - Plan - Something - Inspection
But thankfully, Mom and Dad’s plan included something more: a physical inspection to prove I was safe.
Why does the “turn on the light and inspect the room” approach work when a more directly biblical approach (“Do not fear”) seems less effective? After all, the command to not be afraid, occurring 365 times in Scripture, is the most frequently repeated instruction in the entire Bible. Why does “show” appear to be more effective than “tell”?
Part - Answer - Fear - Runs - Imagination
In part, the answer is that fear runs on imagination. What’s that shadow over there? What if it’s a lion? Maybe that shadow is a lion! When fear grabs the wheel of the imagination, your body comes along for the ride.
The heart revs its engine, sugar levels spike, the adrenal gland pumps epinephrine into the bloodstream, and muscles are primed with nutrient- and oxygen-enriched blood. Just try telling this coiled spring of terrified energy to simply calm down! The body is responding to cues that the mind and imagination...
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Aim and timing is evereything.