I have lived in Oklahoma since 1983. When I was growing up in Missouri, I never had any plans to live in this state. In fact, I don’t know of anyone who dreamed of living in Oklahoma. I have heard of people who want to live in the mountains of Colorado, and my youngest son talks about wanting to live near the beaches in Florida. I have even heard of people who wanted to live in Texas, but never Oklahoma. Even our motto, “Oklahoma is OK” fails to inspire dreams of grandeur. I guess Oklahoma is clumped with those other nondescript states like Idaho, Iowa and any other state that starts with the letter “I.” Nevertheless, I have loved living here. Oklahoma has provided a good place to raise my children and to work.

Today I was reading an announcement in the local paper which said bear hunting season had just ended. It also said the population of bears in Oklahoma was much larger than previously thought. If I understood the article correctly, this was the first time our state has allowed bears to be hunted. I guess rogue bears have become pests to some of my fellow Oklahomans. These bears aren’t afraid of people and will ring your doorbell to look for food. Many of them have been caught, tagged and released back into the wild.

The purpose of Oklahoma’s recent bear season was to allow hunters to capture and kill some of these rogue bears. To hunt bears in our great state, you could only use a bow and arrow or, for one week, an old time muzzle loader. You have seen this kind of gun in movies like “Daniel Boone.” Daniel usually took about 10 minutes to get everything poured and packed into the barrel before he was ready to shoot. I am not sure I want to hunt a bear with either a bow and arrow or a muzzle loader. What if I managed to shoot only the ear off a charging bear? My next move would be trying not to reload, but to see who was faster: the bear or . . . me.

The article went on to say that of all the bears killed in Oklahoma, not a single one was a tagged bear. That means I am living in a state with its rogue bears still running loose. It also means these bears are smart enough to evade any attempts at capture. How can a man sleep at night knowing what lurks outside? Now I have two things to worry about: swine flu and rogue bears.

Next, I turned on the television and saw Matt Lauer interviewing a scientist about the dangers of toothbrushes. He explained how many millions of germs live on a single toothbrush. That story is topped only by the hazard recalls on nearly every product ever made. Something dangerous always seems to be lurking nearby.

God must have known that this fallen world would be filled with things to fear. That’s why I’m glad He tells us, “Do not be afraid.” He repeats these words over and over throughout the Bible. Psalm 56:11 tells us, “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” The reminder continues in Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.”

And what did God tell Jeremiah? “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:8). And Daniel? “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them”
(Daniel 10:12). What did the angel say to the two women who came to the empty tomb? “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified” (Matthew 28:5). What did Jesus tell Paul? “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent” (Acts 18:9). And what did the glorified Jesus tell the Apostle John when He appeared to him on the island of Patmos? “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17).

I have never been shipwrecked like Paul or in the lion’s den like Daniel, but I do live in a state that has rogue bears, swine flu and nasty toothbrushes. How do I handle all these dangers? Fear not! My life lies in the hands of the One who created it. And the Holy Trinity has not yet called an emergency meeting over me.

I don’t think the world will get any better. So I believe this is a good time to teach your children to . . . fear not.

Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail walker@awestar.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.