Dealing with Fear Requires Discipline

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“Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to control it, you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you. You think you know the difference between a hero and a coward, Mike? Well, there is no difference between a hero and a coward in what they feel. It’s what they do that makes them different. The hero and the coward feel exactly the same, but you have to have the discipline to do what a hero does and to keep yourself from doing what the coward does.” – Cus D’Amato training Mike Tyson at 14 years old.

There have been a handful to events in my life that resulted in spine tingling fear. A few of them include:

  • Running from a pack of wild dogs through the woods at dusk, trying to make it to safety
  • Nearly being carjacked by a gang of ruthless criminals who had just shot and robbed a guy earlier in the day
  • Having M16’s pointed at me in Honduras as some soldiers wanted a bribe
  • Being in a convenience store when some guys who had just gotten out of prison came back to kill the clerk for getting them arrested for robbing her years earlier.

You never know what life is going to through at you. Life is going to have its spine tingling, genuinely scary moments. They are few and far between and so we don’t really expect they are going to happen to us. Or we expect that the police will be there in under a minute and guarantee a favorable outcome (which hasn’t happened to me to date even when I needed it to – no slam on the police here, just the reality that they can’t be everywhere at the drop of a hat. Only time that happens is on TV where the reality is suspended to create suspense, like in 24 where they can get across LA in less than 5 minutes).

It is important that we take responsibility for our own preparation, not just about physical safety but also about our spiritual well being. Acting and reacting in ways that are likely to get you out of some serious spiritual messes really do boil down to discipline. From a spiritual perspective, it is our spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, studying scripture, etc) that prepare us for the most difficult and scary moments in life. You can’t prepare for those things by cramming an hour before the final. It is day in and day out preparation for the things that aren’t even happening in that moment. That is why it is called discipline, because you have to do it when it isn’t urgent in order to use it when it is urgent. Relying on the preacher to get you ready for those moments through a 25 minute weekly sermon is like thinking watching a few youtube videos on self defense will prepare you to protect yourself should someone try to harm you or your family. It just isn’t sufficient and no one can do it for you. So be disciplined. Be prepared. Watch yourself, your actions, your attitudes and examine them to see which ones are likely to get you in trouble and which ones are likely to keep you out of trouble. This all takes discipline and time and sacrifice but your life may depend on it.

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