From the Yorktown Crier- Poquoson Post, August 30-September 5, 2012
Who Burnt the Popcorn?
Number Four: Fear Not
Setting: In an office break room somewhere on Route 17. Or, is it Wythe Creek Road?
“Who burnt the popcorn?” asked Tom
“Nobody. I think that is just old burned popcorn smell,” said Gabriel. She smiled broadly, “Are you afraid Mary will blame you?”
“Nah. I don’t fear any person. I “Fear Not,” said Tom. He faked pumping his chest twice with his fist.
“Dude, you look pretty uptight when you post your monthly reports,” said Jeremy.
“Uptight?” Tom closed the microwave oven door on his glass container and tapped it into action. The motor was loud.
“I’ve lived life, Jeremy. Concern, uptight, caution, and prudence aren’t fear,” said Tom.
“I’ll bet you fear your missus,” said Gabriel.
“Well, you’ve got a point there. But, I don’t know that honest respect for power of she-who-must-be-obeyed is fear. That’s just facing reality,” Tom’s shoulders shook at his own joke. “But, seriously, I try to live a life of fear not. And, then I realize that when I worry, I’m admitting fear,” said Tom.
“What’s the problem with fear?” asked Gabriel.
“What’s the problem with worry? I worry when stuff goes down. Until I figure out what the problem is,” said Jeremy.
Phil entered the room like a herd of elephants. He carried his food with both hands. “I worry big time. I’ve got three little kids. And a big mortgage.”
Tom took a deep breath. He was “on”. He used his hands like a lecturer to conduct his audience. “When I worry, I sin against God. I want to worry. I want to worry about work. My family. My health. My Commonwealth and Country. My car. You name it, I’d really like to worry about it. Then, I’d like to fix it or help fix it. Whatever it is.”
The breakroom sat in rapt attention to their older friend.
“But, if I worry that means I don’t trust God. It means when I pray, I don’t believe the prayers will be answered. It says I think I need to plead and beg or prove myself to earn something with God.”
They all chewed their lunches quietly.
“But, that is wrong. God is sovereign. He is Lord of the universe and all the infinitely large and me, my life and all the infinitely small, or He is not Lord at all. So, pray it and let it go. Don’t worry.”
“The Bible says to pray without ceasing,” said Gabriel.
“Pray. Not plead or repeat mumbo-jumbo. Prayer is conversation. It’s fellowship of sharing your every thought with the Holy Ghost,” said Tom.
“You don’t worry?” Jeremy arched his accusing eyebrows.
“I know what to do and not to do. I worry some, but try not to,” said Tom.
“If you can’t do it, then what’s the point?” asked Phil.
“Because the one, true, living Lord God said “Do Not Fear” about 450 times in the Bible,” said Tom.
“You worry about those grand babies,” said Phil. He took a huge bite.
Tom smiled as if he enjoyed a guilty pleasure – like slicing into a chocolate cake. “I worried about my kids. And my wife. I worried a lot when I was your age, Phil. But, then we got through everything life could throw.”
Gabriel lowered her brown eyes. She knew many of Tom’s trials in different jobs and at home. Her mother had known Tom since High School.
“I learned to trust and obey the Lord. I learned to fear not – as best I could. But, now, when I know what my grandchildren face in life, I just wish I could protect them. I wish I could take away their fears. And the hurts I know will come. Like, when Emma was terrified about going to pre-school last year,” said Tom.
“She’s all better this year!” said Gabriel brightly.
“Yup, that’s why I’ll be late first day of school. I’m going to go to my son’s house to see her off. She’s not afraid now. I still want to just share the moment.”
“You can take time off for that?” asked Gabriel.
“Take vacation. Take comp time. Just take it,” said Tom.
“I’ll ask Mary,” Gabriel smiled brightly. “My baby is starting pre-school. My Momma is taking care of her in the morning.”
“Do it,” said Tom. “And fear not. Do not fear. It’s in the Bible.”