It was pitch black. It was cold. It was lonely.
It was a night hike, one of the most anticipated (or dreaded) events of the Pathfinder Winter Camporee. This year, I and my church’s Pathfinder club, the Dallas Trailblazers, were camping at a well-known recreational area called Prayer Mountain.
And now we were lost.
Some campers began to cry. Others manufactured sudden health issues.
And then there was me and my friends. We were giggling and joking, snickering and teasing. We were having a grand old time because we weren’t scared at all.
Why? If you’d asked me then I’m sure I would have shrugged my shoulders. What was it? Was it the stupidity of youth? Was it naivete?
Or was it something else?
Zero percent fear
The feelings of Eliab, David’s oldest brother, must have been very similar to the feelings of my fellow campers.
We met Eliab briefly last chapter, when David was anointed the next king of Israel. But here we get to see him up close. And it’s not a good look.
Eliab is angry. He’s hurling insults. He accuses David of being wicked and conceited (verse 28). And all because David is expressing shock and indignance at the cowardice of the Israelite soldiers.
The Israelites were camped in battle array against the Philistines. They were frozen, neither advancing nor retreating, and all because of one man: Goliath.
Goliath the giant pranced back and forth in the Valley of Elah. His terrifying, booming voice shouted insults at Israel and their God.
The Israelite army had been subjected to this nonsense for weeks. David experienced it for one hour and was ready to fight.
Hence Eliab’s anger. Who did his littlest brother, this little pip-squeak of a shepherd boy, think he was? David wasn’t better than them! So why was he wandering around telling everyone who would listen that he would be happy to fight the giant?
I think Eliab got so angry because he was, in fact, scared out of his mind. As he should have been. As I would have been!
Goliath was 9 feet tall. He was like the Philistines’ superpower. There was no way out of this situation alive, and David waltzing his way into camp, making light of a dire situation, pretending to be stronger than them all—it was too much for Eliab to take.
But what Eliab didn’t realize was that David wasn’t acting. He wasn’t failing to take the situation seriously. He wasn’t being cocky.
He was truly not afraid.
Any fear David might have been tempted to feel was outweighed by his absolute trust in and intimacy with the God of the Universe. He was so deeply and firmly positive that God was more powerful than Goliath that the thought of facing him didn’t even make David flinch.
He was secure and confident in the God he served.
“Fear becomes illogical when I walk in.”
There are a lot of things to fear in this life.
Crime. Public speaking. Disease. Loneliness. Theft. Loss. Poverty. Exams. Government. Heights. Failure. Interviews. War. Parties. The list goes on and on and on and on.
It is logical to fear these things—if and only if we do not believe in our God.
During that night on Prayer Mountain, in the dark and cold, I wasn’t afraid because I was confident. Not in myself, in someone else.
I was confident in Mr. Maxwell, our Pathfinder leader, that he would find a path back home. I was confident in the maps and compasses the older kids were using, that if they stared at them long enough, they would begin to make sense.
I was confident that someone smarter than me, bigger than me, and with more authority than me, could handle the situation.
As people who follow God, we profess to believe in the wisest, biggest, most powerful Being in the universe. A God who can handle anything. Not only that, but a God who wants to handle everything, because He is madly in love with us.
How does it make sense to fear? What are we worried about? Don’t we know that the solution has already been worked out? Didn’t we hear that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord?
Fear is hard to deal with. So are our emotions. Our bellies and hearts do not always do what we want them to.
But our minds will.
In our minds we ask the question, Why am I afraid? It’s in our minds that we remind ourselves of the God we love. Our minds are ground zero for the choice to be confident in that God.
It is our minds that will then fight fear and win.
What do you think? Is there any reason for a follower of God to be afraid?