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June 23, 2021

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8, NIV).

I reached the hospital this morning at 6:30 a.m. and walked to my usual elevators. A crowd was gathered where service men were trying to pry open an elevator door. I wondered at the presence of the crowd but was in a hurry, so I walked around and climbed the stairs. About 20 minutes later a secretary from the medicine office called me and told me that one of our doctors had been stuck in the elevator that morning and was in the emergency room. I immediately went to check on her. I found her crying in fear over her recent experience: trapped in that small space, the elevator jerking up and down, no way out, absolutely believing she might die.

I understand. I’ve always known the fear of irrational claustrophobia. At my rehearsal dinner, my groomsmen drug me to a pine box coffin and nailed me in, giving my bride a hammer. “If you want him, you can get him.” My brother knew my fear and whispered to me, “If you can’t stand it, shout ‘Bluebeard;’ and I’ll help you escape.” My future wife ripped me out with her bare hands. She’s a keeper.

It’s peculiar that I’m also afraid of heights. I’ve hiked up a number of 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and enjoyed rock climbing with my kids, but I can’t walk close to a cliff and look over the edge without severe panic at the thought of falling into that endless space.

Closed spaces and vast emptiness, irrational fears…or hints from the Creator?

Too much and too little, both extremes with uncertainties, and both but exaggerations of normal life.

We all suffer from the limits of our capabilities and the limitations of time.

Many of us spend too many days trapped within the confines of too little time with too much to do. Sometimes the pressure of time closes in on me like a coffin; I want to cry out and bust out, but there is no clear escape.

Just so with falling into vast emptiness, like the fear I knew when younger, that fear of death now gone, that fear Freud called “the terrors of eternal nothingness,” that fear of falling into extinction.

Thank God that He is there waiting at both extremes.

He is the Author and Owner of time. There is no space within our time-trapped lives where He is not present and actively completing His will.

And just the same with my past fear of falling into “eternal nothingness”—the cliff remains, for we live within a fallen world; but the arms to catch us are strong and will not let us drop into the abyss. Our natural human destination of extinction or hell is no longer possible because “Christ has been raised” (1 Corinthians 15:20, ESV).

Too much, and too little—for me but not for God.

Dear God,
Let my irrational fears be guideposts to You as the answer to all fears.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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