Tag Archives: fear

Black and White (and Gray all Over)

It feels odd to be alive at a time like this. The streets continue to get emptier and emptier after an order to shut down universities and schools, large tourist markets, entertainment venues and sporting events in an effort to stop the spread of Covid19.

The city lies cloaked in gray. Smog blankets the mountains, hiding the sun that should come out in blazing heat. The Air Quality Index shows the PM 2.5 to be over 360, at dangerous levels.

Our worlds have been uprooted, our safe schedules in upheaval. The ground beneath us is shaky, the sky above us is shrouded, the road before us is blurred with confusion.

Through it all hovers a brooding heaviness. Fear. Fear, waiting to latch its teeth into us when we read the news, when we discuss the crisis with friends, when we see the city streets emptying.

In a time like this, it feels sometimes like the distinct black and white lines that we like to draw are blurred and shaky, smudged into gray, like the sky above.

Life has felt like this for me in the past week. Selfishness seems to be the norm in cases I meet at my work as a translator. Anger flares over the smallest things. Hope seems to be ebbing low. Some of the kindest people I know are said to be the most corrupt. My own future and the dreams I’ve cherished are vague and unreal and look impossible. My school and internship plans for the next 5 months have been totally changed. Sometimes the things you believe with your mind don’t feel right with your heart.

It’s easy to let these things carry into my life, to begin carrying a heaviness that was not mine to carry. It’s easy to let the unknowns and gray matters and smog of life soak into my soul.

But when I stop and think of it, I can still trace some of the lines and truths. Through the gray, I can still see color. I can still see truth.

It is still right to be kind.

It is still right to be just, even in the face of injustice and corruption.

Being humbly truthful is still the best thing.

Unselfishness still speaks as loudly as selfishness.

Prayer is still the best response to an unknown future.

Practicing generosity is still one of the kindest and unselfish things you can do.

God is still in control.

God still keeps his promises.

God still loves this world.

And donuts still taste really, really good.

Memorial: A Story of Answered Prayer

I feel like I live life on the tip of an iceberg.

Meaning, I live my life with the constant feeling that there is more to life than what I am experiencing.

Not too long ago, I journaled this, sitting beside the river one Sunday afternoon.

“Why does it feel at times like I am so alive and vibrantly living, then the next moment I can see, hear or feel nothing, like I am standing in front of a darkened glass, knocking and shouting and pleading for a glimpse into something I know is there, something deeper and fuller and richer than even the most fulfilled life in this world?”

I feel like my experience with prayer has been like this. Prayer, to me, is an iceberg that I sit on, where I am only scraping the top of all the power that exists beneath me.

And here is where I will be very honest. I have not experienced this power simply because I don’t utilize it like I should.

It’s there! But prayer is hard work. And a lazy or disorganized mind that says yes to too many things and doesn’t focus on what is truly important will not experience this power.

But there was a day that God showed his power through prayer in a very clear way.

A year ago, I came home from a mid-term exam at school. I got home, changed into comfortable clothes, and decided to pack up all my books and papers and head up the mountain to a lonely little coffee shop on Doi Pui to study and work on term projects. I got ready, notified my housemates where I was going headed out to the main road on my motorbike.

As I drove past the last house before the main road, I noticed several people standing outside, and something made my heart jump as I drove past. One of the men stared at me in the face with brilliant blue eyes, wide and staring, his red hair on end.

I felt shivers going down my spine without knowing why. Something was wrong and I had turned out onto the main road before I could gather my wits together. By the time I got to the next intersection, I concluded two things. He was not Thai, and something was wrong. On a whim, I turned my bike back and started back. I decided I would drive past once to calculate the situation again, and then if it looked like there was something I could do, like translate, I would stop. There were two reasons I did this. One because I truly wanted to help, and two because I was curious. Yet, deep in my heart, I was also terrified.

I drove past again and they were still there, so I turned my bike around, parked and climbed off. Immediately, the Thai people noticed and waved me over.

The man was high. He had no shoes. His hair was wild and his lips were dry and peeling. Spittle flew out of his mouth when he talked.  His eyes were a bright staring blue and were nearly popping out of their sockets, although had he been in normal circumstances, I would have said he was young and good-looking. I kept on praying under my breath as I talked with him. He started off begging me to take him to the main road, about 100 meters away. At first thought I said I would and then decided against it telling him instead that he would have to let one of the Thai guys take him. The Thai guys said they had already contacted the police because the lady of the house had seen him run past the house and then come back, jumping on one of the bikes in the garage as if he was going to take off with it.

He moved in close to me. “I’m going to die. I’m going to die if you don’t go with me. They’ve got a gun! They’ve got a gun and they’re going to shoot me!”

“Who?” I asked.

“They,” he pointed down the road. “You have to take me to the road. Or I am going to die!”

I clutched my bike keys in my hand, scared he would grab them away.

“I’m sorry,” I insisted. “I can’t take you. If you want to go you have to go yourself. You can walk. It’s not far.”

He came up closer to me, his crazed eyes boring into mine. “No, no! You have to go with me!”

I would talk with him for a while and then talk with the Thai neighbors. As I talked with them, the man would walk around restlessly, as if he was leaving, and then come running back in fear.

“They’re going to shoot me! You just watch! If you don’t go with me, I’m going to die!” He began walking away, watching me and pointing his forefinger and thumb into a gun and pointing it at his own head. “I’m going to die! I’m going to die!”

I watched as he went, oddly wondering to myself if he really was going to die. He went for a bit and then came running back, begging me again to drive him to the road, angry that I refused.

During all this time, I felt a surprising lack of fear.

“What’s your name?” I asked. “Where are you from?”

He was from New Zealand. I can’t remember what his name was anymore.

It took ages for a cop to show up. By that time, the man was calmer than before. At first, he insisted I go with him to the station, but eventually he became calm enough for the policeman to lead him down the road to his car. By that time, I was exhausted and in no state to drive up the mountain.

I never heard what happened to him. I still wonder.

That evening was when the fear started for me. When I was in my late teens I had wrestled with deep-seated fear at nighttime, especially when sleeping by myself. There were times when I would be unable to sleep much of a night because of fear—fear of darkness, fear of evil, fear of fear. I had struggled with this through my teens and in my lower twenties had gradually found victory through prayer, singing, reading the Word and renouncing fear in the name of Jesus. I also had discovered through this that I was extremely sensitive to anything spiritually dark. I learned what kind of books I could read and what I couldn’t read.

But this evening I could again feel it coming on. Every time I closed my eyes, I would see his eyes, crazy, wide and blue, with blood vessels sketched on the whites, right in front of mine. Even his smell seemed to follow me. I knew that I was never going to be able to sleep that night unless something changed. The fear was tangible, like a shell that wrapped itself around me.

Before I went to bed, I shared with my housemates what I was feeling. Brit right away offered to pray for me.

And that’s when I felt it. As she prayed, the fear that wrapped itself around me literally fell away. It felt like something was stripping it off, and instead a peace reigned in my heart.

I went to bed and slept like a rock. No visions of red-haired, blue-eyed men ventured into my dreams.

So, I leave you with that—the power of a simple prayer. I know my imagination, and I know my sensitivity to darkness and evil. Because of that I also know that my fear does not magically fall away because of nothing.

My challenge to myself and to you today is to utilize prayer and its power.

I wanted to write this as a reminder to myself, as a way of driving a stake into the ground and saying, “I remember this. Let this be a memorial to answered prayer so that every time I come into a situation that demands prayer, I can look back at this and say, yes. It works.”

So here is that stake, that memorial.

On this blog.

Right here.


Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay


I Wonder

This poem is not a new one for me. I wrote it several years ago after a long, dark struggle. I came across it tonight as I was looking through some old files, and again it spoke to me.
We are free. 

Flying Butterfly

I wonder….

When the butterfly struggles

Out of the clenching confines

Of the dark cocoon

If it flies right away

Without a fear

Or a looking back over its wing

With a shudder, at the prison?


I wonder…

If without hesitation

It stretches its wings

And flutters away

No more to think of the long dark struggle

That lasted interminably

In that age long moment of not knowing

If daylight would ever be seen?


I wonder…

If it  ever thinks

It is still trapped back there

And forgets it has the means to fly

But struggles wingless in the dust

Trapped in a cocoon of the mind

Remembering the darkness?


I wonder…

If the butterfly ever fears the cocoon will come again

Or if it knows the freedom it has been given

Will last as long as the turning seasons

Bring out their shades of blue and gold and green?

And it goes dancing over the meadows

Free and unfettered?

I wonder….


March 2014


I Do Not Understand

I do not understand how there is no fear in love

Mine must not be perfect, because for me

Love has always held an element of fear

A fear of losing, a fear of a light snuffed out

Fading quickly into the cruel, cold darkness

Of unleashed desire. That, for you, I fear.

When I see that light in your eyes, little girlIMG_6100

That quick smile glowing, laughter rippling free

I love and I fear- so fiercely. For you.

That light of girlhood- of pigtails and pink

Of hugs and Jesus songs sung in the breath snatching wind

That light must never be the red light of the street

But I am not God, therefore I fear for you

Because my love is not perfect in trust and in the power

Of the greater Love that overshadows us

And I bare my teeth at the angry world around us

That wants to smother light into darkness

And let only fear, and not love be the guiding star.

Show me, Lord, how perfect love casts out fear,

Because I do not understand.

The Battle

Tonight I stand at the doorway of my home and watch thousands of people walking past, most of them holding small boats made of folded banana leaves with incense and candles on the top, heading to the river. They walk, some laughing and dancing, some singing, some with no expression, some sad. Interspersed with the people are trucks carrying large floats, some beautiful, some hideous, and in the middle of the floats are small images and idols of gods. At  the river, they will light the candles and incense, attach some money to the boat and send it off down the river as a thank offering and sin offering to the river god.  To some, it is a serious thing, yet others scarcely know what they are doing. It is beautiful and empty ritual, useless. It’s called Loi Kratong.

Tonight I hear a young man speak about his fear while living as a monk in a temple for one month. He talks of his fear of evil spirits in the temple at night, as well as dogs howling when they sense evil.

Tonight I see a face on the street. It is sad, lined with worry and fear.

Tonight I hear a story of superstition and fear, the fear of bad luck, and the belief that if a lizard cries more than nine times it brings good luck, and if less than nine times, it brings bad luck.

Today I see a little girl, moved with compassion at her father’s need for money for his farm, donate several hundred baht to her hero.

Last night I heard a seeking heart give voice to  questions: How do you know if you have done something wrong? What if you have sinned and you don’t recognize it?

Today I listen to the heart of a woman, full of love for her children, seeking to give them the best she can, even when she doesn’t always know how.

Today I hear children praying for money for financial needs for kingdom work.

I am watching the fight of good and evil. Sometimes I forget this. Living in another country takes energy. Sometimes it seems all my energy is used up just in the process of living, and I feel like I am living only on the surface, floating along without making a difference in life, wrapped up in my own world. Then come glimpses, reminders. And for a little bit I can see and remember- there is more to this than I realize. At first glance it is hidden. But if you take a closer look, you can see that beneath the jewels and lights laughter and smiles and beauty of this country lies a heart of fear. Fear that can be catching and suffocating and compelling and controlling.

If only they could see with the eyes of God the army behind us.

God give me words to speak that they might know! And the courage to speak that they might be saved!

And a heart that is passionate enough to die to its own desires.