With Faith Fear Becomes An AllyBusiness
The old Chevy rattled across the gravel parking lot and backfi red loudly as Paul’s image turned off the ignition. He rested his forehead against the steering wheel for a long moment, then left the keys in the car and climbed out. From the backseat Rafe and Paul watched him climb the hill toward the cliffs.
“Am I going to jump?” Paul asked as his image disappeared over the crest of the hill.
Rafe smiled softly. “Don’t you know?”
“I do know that at this very moment I—the ‘I’ who is up there watching the sun go down—intends to end it.”
Rafe stopped smiling and looked at Paul so intensely that he turned away. “Do you want him to jump, Paul?”
Paul licked his thumb and tried to rub a peanut butter stain out of the backseat. “I don’t know. I don’t want him . . . I don’t want to die, but I can’t go on like this. Fear may be a treacherous enemy like you said, Rafe, and if that’s so, then it has beaten me. I do want it to end.”
PRAY FOR FAITH. COURAGE WILL COME AS AN ADDED BENEFIT.
Rafe looked more closely at Paul, then climbed out of the car. Motioning with his head for Paul to follow, he ascended the path. The sun illuminated the evening sky as if it were God’s own stained-glass cathedral. Paul watched his image’s hair blowing in the breeze at the edge of the cliff.
“You can’t see it, can you?”
Paul blinked. “See what?”
“See fear standing behind you there, preparing to shove you off that cliff. You can’t see it, can you?”
“No, I can’t see it, Rafe.”
“You cant’ see it because it’s not there. It’s nothing, not even a puff of hot air. Just a fi gment of your imagination, yet you’re about to be pushed to your death by it.”
The sun touched the horizon and continued its descent. The man at the edge stared straight into the light and wrapped his arms around his shoulders as though trying to stay warm against a winter wind. “You see, Paul,” Rafe continued, “that man out there can’t take his mind off all those depressing tomorrows. If he just had faith, then fear could become his ally.”
Now only the top quarter of the sun gleamed above the horizon, sending a sword of brilliant orange across the waves, its tip pointed directly at the man on the cliff. Paul was losing his concentration to a morbid fascination with the scene unfolding before him: Was he about to watch his own suicide? He had to force himself to process Rafe’s last words. “How can fear be an ally?”
Rafe looked at Paul, but the young man’s eyes were riveted on the fi gure silhouetted in the setting sun.
“If you have faith, there is nothing to fear. Believe in the meaning of life and your own purpose in life, and fear simply becomes a warning that you are not yet prepared for the challenge. Master your fear and it becomes an ally.”
The sun’s last fragment fl oated for a moment on the sea, a jeweled ring on the hand of an elfi n princess, then it dipped below the surface.
Paul’s image moved closer to the edge. At that second the splendor of the fi ery orange sky seemed to suck the air right off the hilltop. It was as if every ounce of beauty from everywhere in the universe had been packed into that one ultimate sunset. At the cliff the other Paul’s hands fell to his sides.
Paul wanted to scream, to yank his image back away from the precipice, but he was frozen in horror.
The man on the edge took a step and leaned forward into the wind. Instantly the hill was vacant. No Rafe. No sound. No air. Paul was yanked off his feet and sent hurtling toward the sunset. At the edge of the cliff, as though he had slammed into an invisible wall, he was wrenched violently downward. He saw his own fl ailing body coming at him from below and knew that the two would reconnect at the moment of impact.