I hate to admit this but I am older than the Gateway Arch. I can remember when it was being built. It was originally two separate structures that began to rise from the ground. As they ascended they began to curve toward each other. I wish I had paid more attention to the whole process but I was only a little kid and I wasn’t really that into what was going on. I was busy sticking fishing poles in light sockets, seeing if a turtle’s shell could protect it from falls on the brick sidewalk and perfecting my Tarzan yell. I don’t know if mom and dad remember a lot about it because they were busy trying to stop me from doing things like that.
I can remember the day the last piece was lowered by the crane and the two structures became one. The shape became complete and it no longer looked like two wilted flower stems drooping in the sun.
The first time I went up in the Arch I was kind of amazed by the little elevator compartments we had to get in to reach the top. They tilt to stay level as they rise up into the curve of the structure. The windows at the top are rectangular and I had to stretch and lean to be able to see out. It was the first time I had been so high up and everything looked so small from there. It was cool and all but watching little people and little cars move around is only interesting for so long and I was soon ready to go back down.
As I waited around for everyone to feel the same way I did and descend the giant stainless steel symbol of something, I noticed something. This was something very disturbing. The Arch was moving. I could feel it moving. I was way up in the air and this thing was moving. I wanted down. I wanted to go down right now. I moved to the middle of the floor, as far from the windows as I could get, and carefully made my way to where we were to board the cars to get back down to the ground. Panic began to set in and I all I could think of was that I want to be on the ground again…now!
About the time I was sure I was going to freak out, the rest of the family and I were making our way into the little elevator compartments. The ride wasn’t fun anymore. It was too slow, the compartment was too small and every creak and groan was an announcement of eminent demise. I sat in silence because I knew if I tried to talk I would burst into tears and no little boy wants to do that in public if it can be avoided. We finally reached the ground and I stepped out onto the hard concrete floor. Solid ground never felt so good.
There was never anything to fear. When the Arch was designed, they knew it would sway and built it to do just that. That’s why it hasn’t crumbled and fell during the wicked storms that hit St. Louis every year. It is built to weather them. I don’t know what will happen if a giant tornado hits it head-on but I do know it will take a whopper of a wind to bring it down. So, I had no reason to be afraid on the nice, somewhat breezy day that I made my first visit to the top.
Fear is caused many times by just not knowing the facts. My mind draws its own conclusions based on the limited knowledge I already have and soon I am afraid of something that has no power over me and no way to harm me. People like me that suffer from depression are even bigger victims of fear because our condition causes us to make up facts that support our fears and let them grow from little gremlins in the closet or under the bed into giant monsters destroying Tokyo.
To fight fear in my life I have to fill my brain with facts and truth. That doesn’t come from the news or talk radio. I can’t get it from guys that put “Dr.” in front of their names like Oz and Phil. Nope, can’t even get it from Oprah. I have to go to the author and finisher of my faith.
John 8:31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I have often heard the last half of the second verse above quoted. “The truth shall set you free!” That’s all well and good but it leaves the impression that if I tell the truth and don’t lie that I am set free. That isn’t what this is saying. Jesus is speaking to following his teachings and learning the facts, I am to dedicate myself to knowing them and following them. That is what sets me free. Freedom from fear, deceit, sin and death can only come from the only one that can show me the whole untarnished truth.
John 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
He is the truth, the way and the life. He frees me from my fear, my anger, my sorrow and my slavery to sin. The more I know about him, the more I know him, the less I am subject to the fears and misgivings that paralyze me and make me run like a scared rabbit.
God, let me know you. Let me know your truth. Let me be assured that I have been set free and help me to live like a son and not a slave. Amen.