The scene was wondrous. Everything was better than any human could imagine. Then one thing ruined it: fear. In the Gospel for today's Daily Office readings, Jesus walks on the water to reach his frightened disciples in a storm. Jesus greeted them with these words: "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid" Matthew 14:27. The ever-impulsive Peter (with whom I greatly identify) invited himself to join Jesus walking on the water. All was well, until he forgot the single thing Jesus had said, "Do not be afraid." Fear gripped Peter, and he began to sink.
Do you know the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis? They are worth re-reading at least every decade of your life. In them, Uncle Screwtape instructs the novice Wormwood about how to manipulate a human subject for the Devil's gain. God is referred to throughout as "The Enemy."
In Chapter 6, World War II is breaking out, and the human subject is wrought with anxiety and fear. Uncle Screwtape features what a golden opportunity this is, since nothing is more useful than fear in dissuading spiritual growth:
"There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them."
Have you been taking your temperature? Perhaps daily use of a "Fear gauge" would serve us best. If you have extra time today, you may listen to Uncle Screwtape here.