My Enemy at the Grocery

grocery checkout
Last night, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items, so I neglected to use a shopping cart. As I often do, I selected more items than I had planned so my arms were full. I selected the checkout with the fewest people and took my place at the end of the line.
But then I saw him, in line right in front of me, arguing with the cashier, the one who had tried to enter my home once before when I was alone. He must have heard me shuffle my feet for he glanced back at me.
“Hello, Fear,” I mumbled.
Suddenly, my shoulders tightened, my pulse quickened, and my anxiety level rose to new highs. The most dreadful thoughts that plague my sleepless nights seemed personified in this one man before me. Instead of seeing him, however, I saw myself as an insignificant elderly man, completely alone, in pain, without hope or strength.
But then, my Lord, my Friend, reminded me that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not have to fear evil, for He is with me. (Psalm 23:4)
He put His arm around me and said, I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13) 
He then looked me right in the eye and said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Suddenly, the man before me was just a man, arguing with cashier before me. Somehow, he seemed smaller than before, weaker than I remembered.
“Thank You, Lord,” I prayed silently.
“Now pray for Him,” said the Lord.
“What?” I asked. “You want me to pray for him?”
“Yes, I do,” said Jesus.
I sighed. I didn’t want to pray for him. I wanted him to fall into a giant human bug zapper.
“Pray for him,” the Lord repeated.
“Ok,” I said. “Let me think of what to say.”
“Just talk to me about him.”
“Ok,” I replied, slightly annoyed. “Lord, help this man. How’s that?”
“It’s a start,” He said. “Pray for him everyday this week and try to mean it a bit more each time you pray.”
“Ok,” I said. “I’ll try.”
“Try hard,” He replied.

Intruder in My House


I woke early this morning and decided to go for a run.  As I dressed and reached for my keys, I felt something disturbing.  I realized that I was not alone.  Then I saw him.  He shook his long pointed finger directly in my face.  I instantly recognized him.

How could I possibly forget him?

I first met him as a child when a bully threatened to beat me up after school.  Later, he sat beside me in college while I took my exams, causing me unfounded anxiety.  And he visited me as an adult, right before I made a bold career move.  Sometimes, he stops by and I don’t see him, but I see what he’s left behind:  broken dreams, forsaken promises, hopelessness, and even despair.

He showed up again this morning in my home unannounced.

I looked him right in the eye and said, “Hello, Fear.”

He rolled his eyes and asked, “Just where do you think you are going?”

“Out for a run.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Why not?”

“Because if you walk out that door, you’ll never come back alive.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I said.  You walk out that door, you die.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It doesn’t matter if you believe.  It’s going to happen.”

“You can’t frighten me.”

“Ha!  I’ve been paralyzing people for thousands of years.  You think you can avoid me?”

I looked down at the floor and held my keys tightly.  For a moment, I thought that maybe I should just wait until tomorrow to run.

“You know,” he said, “God would tell you the same thing.”

“What?” I asked.

“He would tell you exactly what I’m telling you.”

“No he wouldn’t,” I responded, suddenly defiant.  “He doesn’t give us a spirit of fear.  He gives us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Fear raised an eyebrow.

“Are you certain?” he asked.

“More than anything,” I answered.  “You get out of my house.  I’m going for a run and you’re not welcome here.”