My heart beats violently within me; the horrors of death overcome me.
Fear and panic overpower me; terror overwhelms me. (Net Bible)
We’ve all felt overwhelming fear during some crisis. Jennifer, my heroine in On the Pineapple Express, gets a quadruple dose of this type of fear, forcing her to consider the relationships between fear, courage, foolishness and how all three relate to doing God’s will. In three scenes Jennifer must face a phobia about raging water. Then she faces a horrifying danger, the fear of what human traffickers might do to a beautiful, young-looking woman like her.
Let’s examine briefly some things Jennifer says when she realizes the extent of the danger to Lee and her if they keep looking for the captive girls:
Jennifer: “Tell me we’re not being fools—that this will all turn out good in the end.”
Lee: He cupped her cheeks so they stared into each other’s eyes. “If those girls knew what we were attempting, and they knew we were the only ones attempting it, would they look at us as being fools?”
Jennifer already had confirmation that God wanted her to help find the girls. Realizing that, Lee gave her just what she needed to encourage her. His wise answer comes in the form of a question that gives Jennifer the perspective of those she’s risking her life to save. Many times getting the focus off ourselves and onto others is precisely what we need to do in trying situations.
The question of being foolish surfaces again in Jennifer’s mind just before she places Lee and her in the greatest danger the two have ever faced.
Lee: “Last question. What if the people are armed and they’re guarding the parking area?”
Jennifer: “We…let’s pray that doesn’t happen.”
Lee: “You’re right about the praying part. But if it does happen, we’ve got to slip out of there quietly and get help.”
Jennifer: “Only after we wait long enough to determine they really are guarding the place. Now, are we ready to go?” Jennifer stepped into the bushes at the back of the campsite and worked her way to the edge of Mora Road. Lord, please don’t allow me to be a fool.
Jennifer’s concern surfaces in her short prayer. I’m trying to avoid a big spoiler here, so if you want to know the details about the confirmation of God’s will to Jennifer, and the subsequent strength and courage He gives her to persevere in the face of incredible odds, you’ll have to read the book.
Writing about the incredible dangers my characters faced forced me to think about facing my worst fears. When times get tough and I’m fearful, my natural tendency is to isolate myself, grab the bull by the horns, and try to solve the problem with my natural abilities. No matter how gifted we may be, that will not always work. Furthermore, it isn’t wise, because we lose the help of others God has placed in our lives, help like the encouragement Lee gave to Jennifer. Also, we aren’t availing ourselves of God’s strength which He offers to us:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)
Don’t you love these great promises? However, when I read them I’m compelled to look at the context in which they were given. So, let’s back up and look at verses 8 and 9 of Isaiah 41:
8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. (NIV)
The promise above is for God’s chosen people, his servants, the children of Abraham. We appropriate this promise in our day and time by relying on the unchanging character of God that is revealed to us in the passage. But that begs the question, “Am I serving God in what I’m doing, or am I serving myself?” If I’m not serving God when I place myself in danger, I’m probably being foolish.
I listened to a song many times while writing On the Pineapple Express, The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns. Its message is scriptural, “Do not be afraid. This is for My glory.” God says this more than 400 times in His word. I believe that in many of those 400 times He is talking about paralyzing fear, the kind that stops us in our tracks. Stymied by this fear, we don’t go down swinging, we go down looking. Regardless, we’ve still struck out.
If we want to follow God’s leading but are full of fear, His word, and His very presence, will give us the courage to charge ahead, to fight the battle He has given us (I will uphold you with my righteous right hand). I know God can give us peace. But sometimes He, instead, gives us courage to overcome fear and, through His provision, we win the battle. And we learn to trust Him more. Then with more trust, the next time around, there is less fear. That is a point I try to illustrate in the sequel, Moon over MaalaeaBay.
H. L. Wegley served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever he gets a chance, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ’50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.
More about On the Pineapple Express:
In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled … permanently?
Also available Hide and Seek:
A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?
On Monday, Inner Source interviewed Jennifer Akihara.
On Wednesday, H. L Wegley was our special guest.