Afraid of a Shadow

By John Ballinger

February 2, 2015

Look outside. Is the sun shining or is it a cloudy morning? This is a very important question on this day because if it is cloudy, spring is right around the corner. However, if it is a sunny day, then we are in for six more weeks of winter—or at least that is how the legend goes for it is on this day when all eyes are on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, watching to see if the groundhog sees his shadow.


It’s February 2, Groundhog Day, that ever-popular holiday that gets overlooked by Hallmark. (And yes, I’ve looked. For some reason, cards for the holiday don’t exist.) Today is the day when the whole world—or at least those in the eastern half of the United States—looks to the most famous weather prognosticator of all, the lowly groundhog. Any other time of the year groundhogs are known as field pests that can clean out a farmer’s field in no time or serve to decorate our highways as roadkill, but on this day, the groundhog turns into a weather forecaster—at least for the upcoming weeks. Even though his accuracy has been only about 38 percent over the years (according to, he is still considered an important harbinger of spring.


The fascinating thing about Groundhog Day is that it is based on fear. It may seem silly that simply seeing his shadow is enough to scare the groundhog back in his hole for six long weeks—but have you ever thought about what scares you and how it takes you to overcome a fright?


Recently, Parade magazine wrote an article about fear and shared some of the things of which celebrities were afraid. For instance, Nicole Kidman is afraid of butterflies, although she said cockroaches and other insects don’t bother her at all. Oprah Winfrey has a fear of chewing gum that comes from her memory of her grandmother sticking it under a cabinet. Katy Perry is afraid of the dark and sleeps with the lights on. To take this even further, one study shows that most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld points out that in truth this means at a funeral most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. Before you think these things too ridiculous, take note of what frightens you.


Scripture is full of incidents of fear; did you know that the word “fear” exists 366 times in the Bible? Fear can be good when it protects us from running into traffic or it can be bad when it holds us back from making an important decision. With the Lord’s help, use your fear as a positive force. When fear is ruling your life, hold tight to this verse: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The Lord is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything?” (Psalm 27:1, CEB). When we begin to see who is in charge and that he loves us and wants the best for us, then our lives take on new meaning and our fears melt away.


In today’s world, there is plenty to fear. Read any newspaper or listen to any news announcer and we have reason to fear. We fear for our children and our families. We fear for our future. We fear for those who are in harm’s way protecting our freedoms whether here or abroad. When those fears creep into and take over our lives, the best remedy is to remember that God is above all of it. People live in fear of many things but with God, everyone can learn to work past their fears: “Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand” (Isaiah 41:10, CEB). Or to put it another way, God is in charge of all things and will be with you during the tough times as well as the good times. Put your trust in him and many of your fears will disappear.


Whether it is a shadow or a butterfly, a terror attack, or the negativism that envelopes your life, your fears can be put to rest when you put your confidence in Jesus Christ.


What is frightening you today? Give it over to God. Ask for his strength to surround you.


Have a great week all!

Pastor Bill



Keywords: afraid, psalms
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