Today is Pentecost Sunday and there is much for us to meditate on.  But I would like to share with you a dimension of Pentecost that we seldom consider.  In a matter of seven weeks, those first followers of Jesus conquered the fear that had put them in prison and walked bravely out to face the world.  How did they do that?  We all would do well to learn from their experience.

First, whenever life becomes threatening and fear closes in, we can look for the challenge instead of the fright.  Do you suppose Jesus was afraid that night when He prayed in Gethsemane?  Of course He was.  He knew the pain and public humiliation that awaited Him the next day.  His anguish was so intense that His sweat became as drops of blood.  But His love of God, of Himself, and of His friends pushed fear into the background.  Sure, He was afraid, but what difference did that make?  St. John may have been remembering that night when he wrote: “Perfect love casts out fear.”

Courage more often than not, is a by-product of love.  We are almost automatically brave on behalf of causes that we believe in and persons that we love.  When something else or someone else becomes more important than personal safety, then fear is put in its place.  And it ceases to matter whether we are afraid or not.

If ever we conquer fear, it will be through the power of faith.  Those two are in constant conflict, one against the other.  When fear prevails, faith is defeated.  When faith prevails, fear is defeated.  The first day of Pentecost is a classic story about the victory of faith over fear.

Some fifty years ago, a British physician named A.J. Cronin became ill and was forced to take an extended vacation.  For a long time he had wanted to write a novel, so he decided to take advantage of the opportunity.  But when the manuscript was about half done, he became discouraged.  He feared that his efforts were wasted, and that he really had no ability to write.  So, he gathered the whole thing up and threw it in the garbage can.  Then we went for a walk in the Scottish countryside.

Along the way, he saw an old man digging a ditch, trying to drain a bog and turn it into a pasture.  The old man explained that his father before him had worked on the same project, without success.  Then added, “But I cannot help but dig, for my father knew and I know that if we only dig long enough, this bog will become pasture.”  Dr. Cronin went back to the garbage can, pulled out the manuscript and finished it.  It sold over three million copies and was translated into twenty different languages.

How many people have thrown away some worthy project when it was only half finished?  You made a good start, but fear crept in, and you decided to quit – a half finished character, a half-finished education, a half-finished marriage, a half-finished dream.  The garbage cans of life are filled with half finished treasures that have been thrown away because of fear.  The only solution is a faith that grows stronger than our fear, and finally conquers it.