The guide leading his tour group on some narrow ledge of the Alp Mountains, or some other high place, will say every so often, "Do not look down." At the same time, in a high place those of us who suffer from fear of heights find it the hardest thing in the world not to look down.
The movie-makers have many devices and ways in which they build suspense and instill terror in those who watch their pictures. One time-honored device is to appeal to our fear of heights which comes from looking down. They will picture someone perched on the narrow ledge of a skyscraper, seventy or a hundred stories from the ground. This does not frighten us as much, for in theory, if the ledge is wide enough to stand upon, there is no difference between a sidewalk on the ground and a platform a thousand feet in the air.
The movie-makers send chills down our spines by first picturing the person up on the ledge and then panning the camera down all the way to the street where traffic is moving. This makes some of us want to scream. It is the downward look which is so terrifying, so chilling, so unbearable.
Well, life can be pretty dreadful if we spend our time looking down. Now, I am not saying for a moment that there is not the strong temptation to look down, to look for the worst. And heaven knows there is enough, more than enough, that is low and distasteful and destructive and discouraging in this day and age in which you and I are called to live our lives.
A true and honest and Godly faith will not deny that there are dreadful and frightful realities in life. The faith of Christ truly stated is forever against those "lavender and lace," "tea party" readings of life, even when they are speaking the name of Christ. Jesus never claimed that things cannot be bad, terribly, tragically bad. He rather made large and ample place for the things that are destructive and harmful, the devilish, demonic powers that are loose in the world. If you are going waltzing and prancing through the days making believe that life is one grand round of lovely parties with no gloom and no grief and no trouble, then go ahead, but in the name of God and in the name of truth do not do it in the name of Jesus.
I want you to hear the bad things, the frightening, chilling list, the devastating catalogue, the withering run-down of formidable, cruel, ruthless forces driving against our lives and playing havoc with our dreams and our hopes. In these words of Jesus, which I propose now to repeat, you can hear the roar and crash of a great storm with its screaming winds passing through life, leaving a fearful and empty silence in its wake.
Let the Lord speak. He says that, "we shall hear of wars and commotion, nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, great earthquakes shall be in diverse places." On and on He goes about outside conditions, "signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars." How accurate a description this seems for our own time. There seems to be so little decency left anywhere!