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09 January 2015

Fear or focus?

Fear or focus?

In memoriam, Glasgow Creative Commons: Michel

I don't know about you, but this past month there seemed to be so many stories of tragedy and fatality. The Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris; the Lindt Cafe hostages; the Peshawar school children devastated by the Taliban; the refuse bin lorry in Glasgow losing control, and the Air Asia flight that plummeted into the ocean.

It's not the most comfortable subject death and you might be thinking, how does this inspire me for a new year?

Good question.

I live just north of London, but I am originally from Glasgow. This Christmas I was back home and had the chance to visit the floral memorial to those who lost their lives to that shockingly random event where a bin lorry killed six people, three from the same family.

The tributes were heartfelt and warm.

But only half a mile away are more flowers tied to a roadside barrier. It marks another, less publicised traffic accident where a driver had a similar fit and killed two girls.

These events are tragic. They are saddening. And they highlight the fragility of life. The awareness of death can cause two responses: fear or focus.

As the threat of terrorism grows, as epidemics like Ebola dominate the headlines, and as we hear of those random accidents where anyone at the wrong place and the wrong time could have been impacted, we could grow in fear.

Our life could end at any minute. We are not in control. We do not know what is around the corner. That could induce fear. But I think there is a second response, and that is focus.

You see, we were never in control. No matter how much you think you might be the one guiding and protecting your life, you are not. We are simply given a finite amount of time on this planet to love others and to love God. To impact this world through love. To serve willingly, to give extravagantly, to love completely.

The fragility of life should give us a pinpoint, laser-focus on doing what is important, rather than what is superfluous.

The Bible talks about us not knowing when Jesus may come back, but to always be prepared. It also talks about not worrying. But it didn
't say: Try not to worry, or only worry in certain circumstances. It says: "Do not worry". In Joshua 1, God tells him three times to "be strong and courageous".

Do not fear. Do not fear. Do not fear.

In 2 Timothy, Paul writes that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power;a spirit of courage; a spirit free from worry.

What might that spirit, attitude, and courage do to change how you approach 2015? How might you focus your thoughts, your actions, and your dreams, knowing that you have nothing to fear, not even death?

Gareth Russell is director of Jersey Road limited, a PR and media company working with Christian agencies to tell their story better