In 1958, I left Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I was working as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, to go to seminary in Philadelphia. Irked by getting an “improper passing” ticket from a state trooper shortly before . . . I departed with the fine remaining unpaid. They won’t come to Pennsylvania to get me, I reasoned.
But I also knew my name would be on the great Michigan police computer, and that I would definitely be returning or passing through sometime later. Nevertheless, I ignored my summons, and forgot about it.
Then, a year later, came the first occasion to return to Michigan. As I approached Toledo, Ohio, I suddenly recalled that I was a 'wanted' person in Michigan. FEAR !! My whole body changed. Muscles tightened, stomach churned, heart raced, mouth dried, and my mind worked feverishly, while my eyes were hyper-vigilant.
What havoc and damage fear can do to the human person! Fear is now recognized as one of the greatest accelerators of disease. To rightly work at prevention and cure of some illnesses, then, we do well to look at the presence of fear in our hearts.
Some fear, such as mine back then, can be eliminated by repenting and making proper amends to remove the real threat. What a foolish high price we often pay for a few dollars, or some momentary pleasure. We actually jeopardize our health in exchange.
Beyond our foolish fears from sins and errors, real or imagined, there are the deep existential fears. We might even call them terrors. The question of death is the root of some. But also the fear of meaninglessness. Is my life worthwhile? Do I matter? Am I a good person?
There are spiritual answers for these potentially health-eroding agonies. One immediate spiritual resource is the love and reassurance of people. The care and kindness of others can heal and help enormously. (That's where you come in !!) The ultimate healer is a thorough immersion in perfect love. God is love. Perfect love drives out fear. (I John 4:18) Reduce fear, feel better!
PS: Yes, I was caught. The great computer got me a couple of years later, when I renewed my driver’s license in Michigan.
I did indeed pay a price. But the price for carrying that unpaid ticket so long was much more than the few dollars of the fine!
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