June 23, 2009
by Charles R. Swindoll
The scene is familiar: a hospital lobby with all the trimmings . . . soft sofas and folded newspapers . . . matching carpets and drapes illumined by eerie lighting . . . a uniformed lady at the desk, weary from answering the same questions . . . strange smells . . . and lots of people.
Everywhere there are people. A steady stream pours in and out, the faces marked by hurry and worry. Surrounding me are small clusters of coffee-sipping groups talking quietly or looking into space, blinking often, lost in a world of their own anguish. Some sit alone, restlessly studying the same page of a paperback for 10 minutes. A surgeon in faded green garb suddenly appears, bearing news to the waiting. Frowns cut in. Lips tighten. Heads shake. Tears flow. Everyone stares---momentarily identifying with the strangers. Soon it's quiet again, increased apprehension mounts . . . and life goes on.
If I were a bug on the wall of this sterile establishment, I'd remember other places I'd clung to in my insect excursions---other scenes of apprehension:
In the classroom, observing the new teacher on her first attempt with junior high schoolers.
In the cramped study of the final-year med student as he crams the night before his oral exams.
In the airport as a dad waves good-bye to his son leaving for overseas duty.
In the nursery as an exhausted mother sits through the night beside a baby with a raging fever.
In the car traveling cross-country, moving a family to an unfamiliar neighborhood with unknown streets and untried challenges.
In the store of a businessman, squeezed in the inflation vise, wondering how he'll make payroll on the first.
Apprehension. It's as American as a Chevy or TV dinners. And it's strange. Apprehension is a notch or two above worry, but it feels like its twin. It isn't strong enough to be fear, but neither is it mild enough to be funny. It's in the category of a "mixed emotion."
In some ways, apprehension leaves you crippled, immobile. It's an undefined uneasiness---a feeling of uncertainty, misgiving, and unrest. What frustration is to yesterday, apprehension is to tomorrow.
Paul had it when he set his face toward the heavy horizon over Jerusalem. His admission is found in Acts 20:22:
"And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there." (NKJV)
A lot of emotion was packed into those 21 words. How did he feel? Bound in the spirit. Why was he uneasy? Not knowing the things that will happen to me. That's apprehension. It's no sin, nor is it reason for embarrassment. It is, rather, proof positive that you're human. Unfortunately, it tends to smother your pleasant dreams by placing a pillow over your faith. Apprehension will strap a short leash on your vision and teach you to roll over and play dead when scary statistics and pessimistic reports snap their fingers.
Paul absolutely refused to run when apprehension whistled at him. Openly acknowledging its presence, he nevertheless stood his ground with the ringing words of Acts 20:24:
"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus."
Apprehension is impressive until determination pulls rank on it and forces it to salute. This is especially true when determination has been commissioned by the King of Kings.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.