“Black Bart terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line for thirteen years, roaring like a tornado in and out of the Sierra Nevadas, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen.
“During his reign of terror between 1875 and 1883, he is credited with stealing the bags and the breath away from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews.
“A hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage.
“He didn’t have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.
“He reminds me of another thief — one who’s still around. You know him. Oh, you’ve never seen his face, either. You couldn’t describe his voice or sketch his
profile. But when he’s near, you know it in a heartbeat.
“If you’ve ever been in the hospital, you’ve felt the leathery brush of his hand against yours. If you’ve ever sensed someone was following you, you’ve felt his cold breath down your neck. If you’ve awakened late at night in a strange room, it was his husky whisper that stole your slumber.
“You know him.
“It was this thief who left your palms sweaty as you went for the job interview. It was this con man who convinced you to swap your integrity for popularity. And it was this scoundrel who whispered in your ear as you left the cemetery, “You may be next.”
“He’s the Black Bart of the soul. He doesn’t want your money. He doesn’t want your diamonds. He won’t go after your car. He wants something far more precious. He wants your peace of mind — your joy.
“His name? Fear.
“His task is to take your courage and leave you timid and trembling. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow — his arsenal is vast. His goal? To create cowardly, joyless souls.” This comes from Max Lucado's The Applause of Heaven; 1990
Here come a lot of challenging questions, so get your journal and your favorite pen….
Do you recognize this feeling? When has it been the strongest? What about the little everyday fears? What incites them? What makes you feel as if your back’s against the wall? What’s your defense? Or do you make an escape?
Where do you go when you’re really alone? When have you been the loneliest? These are two separate questions. Are your answers the same? Why, or why not?
Can you identify any of your destructive tendencies? Do you feel like you’re fighting for control?
What have you tried to change? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Write down the areas you recognize and have tried to change but are evidently powerless to do so. What makes you feel as if you’re on a well-lighted street? …or in a dark alley? Have you ever thought you’d find the door?
When you become aware of a destructive emotion, notice what thoughts come with it and how quickly they arrive. As soon as that happens, try to stop the thought. Notice any changes in your emotions. This doesn’t mean for you to stuff away your feelings, but to take a closer look at them. Investigate your reactions. Catch yourself when you’re angry or fearful, and wonder, “why do I react this way?” Do you notice a pattern?
Name your bad luck; list 10 or more things about your life that are unmanageable or out of control. What enslaves you? What do you give up or miss out on because of these traps and obstacles?
Have a look at Proverbs 2, and Romans 7:18.
Name the things in your life of which you are completely certain. Identify the black and white.
What are your expectations from a transformed life? What are some of your hopes? What do you desire for yourself and from others? Where do the grey areas of life fit into this schema?
Why have things gone the way they have and where was YHWH in all that? Are you moving forward, with assurance that it will all work out? Describe your ‘happily ever after’ in great detail.
“Far more often than we realize, we see only the past in the people we encounter. But it is actually our past, rather than theirs, that we view as part of them. Consequently, we do not respond to them but only to our various preconceptions. The genuine desire to see others as they are this instant will go a long way toward purifying our attitudes. There would be very little to dislike in other people if we refused to bring them all our own judgments and petty grievances.” Gerald G Jampolsky, MD; Teach Only Love; 2004, Council Oak Books, LLC; Tulsa, OK; pg 18, emphasis added.
“It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast.” Konrad Lorenz ‘On Aggression’ (1966)
YHWH “the four consonants standing for the ancient name of G-d commonly referred to as Jehovah or Yehweh. Since it was considered too sacred a name to pronounce, Adonai (“my Lord”) was substituted when the Scripture was read aloud.” Today’s Dictionary of the Bible, compiled by T A Bryant, Bethany House publ, Minneapolis, MN, 1982; pg 658; I’ve chosen this nomenclature to help us get over any past history of who we think this god might be. He’s greater than names can claim, and His identity is worth seeking.