Two year old Haddon has a terrifying fear of ALF. It began one day as I was in my in-laws basement and noticed an old stuffed ALF half hanging out of the toy basket. Then ALF attacked me. As Haddon watched from the top of the stairs, ALF tore at my neck and face and made the most awful growling sounds as he hastened me toward my death. When I could summon my strength to pull him off of me, I did what I was naturally inclined to do…throw him off.
In my mind, I can see the whole scene in slow motion. ALF has been tossed and is flying in the air UP the stairs and landing with a soft plop at Haddon’s feet. His face turns immediately from the sad expression of, “My papa is being being hurt” to the two-year old version of, “The death angel is upon us.”
Parents know their children’s cries: sad cry, mad cry, hurt cry. Haddon made a noise I’ve only heard that once from him…it was abject horror. I won’t describe all of his reactions, but he was beyond “put out.”
While I was sincerely in jest at that moment, Haddon took it for evil. While the scenario’s recounting has caused me many belly laughs over the past several months, it has caused Haddon fear. It helped him significantly, when the Harrisons showed him they were burying ALF in the trash after it had obviously become a “thing” to him. He refused to acknowledge that this ALF was nothing more than a synthetic, stuffed object.
This past weekend, I forced Haddon to sit on my lap to watch an episode of ALF on DVD. He was exceptionally reluctant and averted his eyes until he noticed Karsten and their cousin were laughing at the episode. By the second or third episode, he was sitting with them on the floor laughing at this new discovery they had found–none of them had seen the show before. That night as I was tucking Haddon in, we spent some time discussing ALF. He admitted to enjoying watching “the good ALF.” He lauged and recounted several silly things he had seen ALF do. Even though he enjoyed it, I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate “the bad ALF” making a reappearance on the scene (though Karsten enjoys teasing him about ALF showing up in his bed).
Haddon’s fears about that stuffed object are unreasonable. But as I consider it, what fears are not unreasonable? Certainly we should fear God; that is a command. But what others fears are reasonable? Should we fear death or Satan or pain or the opinion of man?
We have a long and rich heritage of a God who shows Himself faithful and capable to meet our every need and quash our every fear. When we fear that men will see us being a Christian or mock us or persecute us, we are making those men appear very big in our estimation and our God very small.
Let us learn to hate our unreasonable and pretentious fears; let us learn to let God be lord over our lives and deliver us from the ideas that seem so strong but are so wrong and keep us from fruitfulness.