CLEF Newsletter - February 2020

“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because they trust in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord we have an everlasting Rock… At night my soul longs for You, indeed, the spirit within me seeks You diligently; for when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness… O Lord, You will establish peace for us, since You have also performed for us all of our works” (Isaiah 26)

Be afraid. Be very afraid. What is it about fear that so repels and attracts us at the same time? We enjoy watching drama on the screen or stage where we can safely enter into its nature and assess it from a place of safety, examining its facets and thinking about how we would manage it ourselves. Feeling and being secure is the number one need of the human heart, both fed and characterized by any number of aspects and factors, be it monetary, physical, emotional or relational; followed by a need for satisfaction, contentment with your circumstances; and then significance, having a sense of self-worth or value. Certainly we all want to be liked, pared with a desire for those around us to sense the same. We need to feel secure. We live in a complex and largely unpredictable world, and especially for those in the law enforcement profession, a sense of danger and disaster seems all too close much of the time, knowing the extent of terrible things that occur, how quickly they transpire, how immediately they must be acted upon and how devastating the consequences can be. Life and society are tenuous and though peril can seem too proximal much of the time, we do what we can to live in toleration of it by being prepared rather than paranoid. What we really want is a sense of command and control to both regulate and restrain whatever may threaten. Stephan Pastis illustrated this well in his comic strip “Pearls Before Swine” recently. Pig’s grandmother died, so he responded by gathering up all his friends and placing them in a box with a sign overhead reading “SAFE PLACE WHERE I CAN KEEP AN EYE ON EVERYONE I LOVE SO NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN TO THEM.” There he stood in front of it, keeping guard. Goat advised him “I’m afraid it doesn’t work this way pig.” Rat added “At some point I’ll need to use the head.”

And so it goes. We each have our own chorus line of what keeps us up at night… fears within, adversities without. Man is born for adversity even as sparks fly upward. Our life is not “The Truman Show.” Anything good or bad is possible. But neither is it “Ground Hog Day,” where we’re doomed to recurring failure. We’re not alone in our circumstances, and they’re neither random nor cruel. There is a plan and a purpose to show us a much greater good, and we are wise to gauge its instruction.

In late 2016 Chapman University published a survey they conducted on various different fears that average Americans feel prey to. A random sample of the population was taken from across the country and asked their level of fear regarding 79 assorted fixations. Twelve of those, in descending order, were:

1 - Government Corruption – 60%
2 - Terrorist Attack – 41%
3 - Losing a loved one – 38%
4 - Identity Theft – 37%
5 - Violent Crime – 35%
6 - World War – 32%
7 - Climate Change – 32%
8 - Being Unemployed – 25%
9 - Dying – 19%
10 - Zombies – 10%
11 - Ghosts – 9%
12 - Clowns – 8%

It’s a curious list, ranging from the rational to the absurd, but bona fide fears nonetheless. We can all relate to them… well, most of them (and yes, I keep a healthy supply of 12 gauge on hand, just in case). In our own lifetime most of us are old enough to remember the shocking realization of being under attack on our own soil when the Twin Towers were struck. Exposed corruption in government is becoming more common, loved ones do die, and LE’s are subjected to lethal situations on a regular basis. As for world war, these days there’s more than mere sabre rattling between us and the Middle East, a tinder box for sure. There’s no lack of things we can warily be concerned about, and today we can add 79 more to the list above. Without sticking our head into the sand, how do we carry on with relative assurance and composure?

Working hard, paying attention, exercising discipline and following the rules has its natural rewards, but nothing avails us total control over hardship and misadventure. Yet for the most part, we take in stride life as it comes to us, knowing it’s our human experience. But what robs us of sleep every time, punishing us into despair, is fear of impending, or succumbing to… failure. It strikes at the heart of the core of our being; the ultimate betrayal by duplicity, infidelity, treason and sedition against self. At the soul of our spirit we know we’re born for better things, our heart’s alter not to be desecrated with the swine of shallow, thin indifference. Without a passion for righteousness and the embrace of adversity; building confi-dence, conviction, clarity and compassion, in a word, Character, we will fail. But with a heart after God, Who alone thus crafts within us His lovingkindness, justice and righteousness, we’ll stand in His accomplished work for us. On our own shifting sand, we fall. On The Rock alone, we stand.

“And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever… And He shall be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is our treasure.” (32&33).