Fear or Faith?

by Alyce M. McKenzie on Thursday, February 6, 2020

From the Director:

During the season of Epiphany, we celebrate the gradual manifestation of the identity of Christ as Savior of all the world, lighting up all the shadowed corners of our world.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we preachers can help listeners to our sermons navigate the chaos and dangers of life in this troubled world, living in a realistic, but hopeful way.

I think we need to both model and practice trust in God, the kind that leads to courageous, though not fearless, living.

My mother Beverly Fowler-Conner, died January 28, 2020 at age 90 in a retirement home in Mechanicburg, Pennsylvania. Throughout her life she loved to read and to write, carving out time each day in a busy life to reflect on her own inner life in relation to unfolding external events. Her meditations and inspirational articles were published in a number of devotional guides.

I share this meditation she wrote that was published in Guidepost magazine some years ago.   It is entitled “Fear or Faith?“

I had two wonderful grandmothers, but they differed in their attitude toward storms. Grandma Coble, my mother’s mother, lived with us and taught me not to stand under a tree in the rain before she taught me to count to ten. When a storm approached with lightning rods spiking heavenward from house and barn, she lowered the shades, drew the curtains, closed the doors and rocked in her chair, twisting her hands in her lap.

My Grandma Utley, my father’s mother, lived some distance away. She was deaf, and it was hard to communicate with her. But once when I was visiting her and a storm approached, she took my hand and led me to the front porch steps where we waited and watched. Wind blew in our faces, lightning made vivid patterns in the sky to which she pointed in delight. When the rain hit us full force, she hugged me and I hugged her back. She laughed and so did I. We were soaked and loved it.

They were both devout women. I don’t know why one feared storms and the other did not, but they gave me a choice early in life: Fear or faith?

The choice was easy. Who would sit in a dark room with the shades down when you could be watching beauty in the sky and lifting your face to the rain?

Now, when any crisis comes my way, I know I have the same choice: Hide from it in fear or face it with confidence and faith.

Wishing us all courage amid the chaos in our preaching this Epiphany!


Alyce M. McKenzie

Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship

Perkins School of Theology

Director, The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence at SMU


Photo by Dominic Morel from FreeImages

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