A friend told me this story. I thought it the story would dovetail nicely into the subject of fear.
One day a man took his family on their annual Summer camping trip. Since they would be gone for three weeks, he asked a friend and neighbor of his if he could periodically stop by, take in any mail or newspapers, throw a few fish feeders into his fish tank, and water their plants.
After more than two week had gone by, the wife of the man who was put in charge of watching over his friend's house said, "Who did John ask to take care of his house this year?"
"Oh shoot!", exclaimed Mike, He had totally forgot. Mike actually didn't use the word, "shoot". I'm giving you a much cleaner version of the story than what I heard..
"You better get over there", said Mike's wife. "It's only been about 100 degrees the last five days."
Mike suddenly had frightening visions that his buddy's tropical fish had totally devoured each other up. And that his neighbors house plants were all keeled over dying of thirst. Mike put the leash on his dog, convinced his wife to come along for a walk, and to lend a hand.
When they got to their neighbor's house, Mike remembered that John's daughter was allergic to dogs. Plus he didn't think it was a good idea to bring his dog inside their house. Fortunately his neighbor John had a a fenced in backyard, so he left his dog in their backyard and closed the gate. Mike and his wife then keyed into the house and start attending to their chores. While Mike is watering some plants, he see out of the corner of his eye, his dog on their back deck. Through the sliding doors, he can see that his dog has something white and limp in its mouth. Mike unlocks the sliding door and calls his dog over to investigate.
Chicco trots on over to his master and drops a dead rabbit down while wagging his tail in pride. This dead rabbit has blood and dirt just caked onto its fur. By this time Mike's wife had joined the motley crew.
"Oh, my" says Mike's wife.
"Wow" exclaimed Mike, "Chicco has never caught a squirrel or rabbit before. I didn't think his eight year old legs had it in him to catch any rodent." Mike was kind of proud for his dog; this watery like smile on his face floated in between a smirk and a grin. But then, Mike's wife noticed the rabbit had these big floppy ears.
"Do the Miller's have a pet rabbit?" she inquired. The smile on Mike's face instantly evaporated.
"Oh, no", exclaimed Mike as both of them spot a rabbit hutch with its door partly ajar sitting in the back corner of the property. "Bad Dog!" scolded Mike several times while looking for his dog.
"Oh, that should teach Chicco", Mike's wife said with sarcasm. "What are you going to do now?"
Mike brings the rabbit in and starts washing the blood and dirt off the rabbit in the kitchen sink. Now the rabbit was clean but the fur was all wet and matted down -it didn't even look like a rabbit.
"Honey, go find a blow dryer and either a comb or a brush" Mike asks in almost a panic.
"You got to be kidding. Are your serious? You aren't going to tell John what happened?" asks his wife.
Mike had played many different roles in his life so far, but playing a mortician that served rabbits was never one of them. He actually did a half way decent job in getting something dead bunny to look presentable. The rabbits fur was now clean, fluffy and soft again. But as he was blow drying the rabbits hair, some big chunks of fur had come off the rabbit. Now there was white fur in the sink, on his clothes, and on the kitchen counters.
Mike then sticks the rabbit in the hutch, poses it in a sleeping position, combs some of the fur to hide the bald spots, and then latches the door to the hutch. Mike comes back into the house where his wife has just finished up in cleaning up all the evidence.
"I don't know Mike, maybe we should just buy them another rabbit or just tell them the truth" suggested Mike's better half.. But Mike quickly dismissed both ideas thinking that their neighbors will just think that their rabbit passed away while they were gone.
About a week later, the Millers return from their vacation. And that very same evening, Mike gets a call from his buddy John. Mike knew this call was coming. He actually had been dreading this call all week. But he had his fake expression of surprise all ready to go.
"Hi John, welcome back. how was your trip?" Mike asked. "Did you and the family have a good time?"
"Oh it was great" replies John. "We had great weather too. And thanks you so much for watching over our place. But......(and a long pause). I need to ask you something." John's tone suddenly became serious. "While we were gone, did you notice something unusual happen here at my house?" inquires John.
"Unusual?" asks Mike. "I don't follow. What do you mean by unusual?" Oh no here it comes Mike thought to himself, "John's daughter is probably in tears"
"A couple of days before we left for our trip" replied John, "Our pet rabbit died. So we buried her in the backyard and my family did this little funeral service for her. And now the strangest thing has happened!"
Why wasn't Mike willing to come clean and tell the truth on what happened? Is it because of some deep desire not disappoint his friend? Or perhaps some inner desire to show that he is a good friend and neighbor? Why then the cover up?
The answer is fear. Fear can make people do strange things. Fear can cause evidence to be hidden. Fear can shape career paths. Even though you may be in love, fear can affect who you marry. Fear can alter the course of a battle. If fear has such capacity to affect so much of your life, certainly it can affect your spiritual journey too.
Next time, I think it would be wise to look into at this tiny thing called fear.