Five minutes from our house is a small zoo with lions and tigers and skunks and fainting goats. My friend Gord took his granddaughter there and sent me a picture of her holding a baby cougar. Then he saw the goats. In front of them was a sign, “Goats faint when startled.” For Gord this sounded like an invitation. He stepped toward the goats and yelled, “Boo!” They just stared at him. But if he had been louder about it, the animals would have succumbed to something called myotonia congenita, the technical term for keeling over each time there’s a loud noise.
Footage of these fainting goats is very popular on the Internet. Younger goats are more prone to tumble when startled; older goats manage to live with it, to tame their fears, and startle less easily. But goats are not the only creatures that faint from fear. During a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her boy into bed. When she turned off the light he asked, “Mommy, will you stay with me tonight?” She gave him a hug and said, “No sweetie I can’t. I have to sleep with Daddy.” The little boy said in a shaky voice, “Daddy. The big baby!”
As a kid I had Ablutophobia. That’s fear of taking a bath. I was so skinny I had Spectrophobia. That’s the fear of looking at one’s own reflection in a mirror. People in our Baptist church had Chorophobia. That’s the fear of dancing. Thirty years ago the top fears of school children were: animals, being in a dark room, high places, strangers, loud noises. Today, kids are afraid of the following: divorce, terrorism, cancer, pollution, being mugged. Recently a friend confided in me that he has been focusing on his fears and that his joy is gone. He listed some of them, then asked, “What do I do?”
Well, I certainly don’t have complete victory in the fear department. But I told him where I went when my wife’s health had failed and I thought I was going to lose her, I found comfort in the writings of a man who knew terror on every side and told us what to do about it. When David writes about fear in the Psalms, the overwhelming message is this: Seek God. Psalm 27:8, “When you said, Seek my face; my heart said to you, your face, Lord, will I seek.” When we seek our own safety, we find fear. But faith and truth are oils that bring healing and peace as we focus on the one who promises to never leave us.
Whatever you’re up against today, I pray that you’ll learn seek God above all else. I never thought I’d say this about goats, but when it comes to the fainting kind, we need to be a little more like an old goat.
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