During my early years, we lived in the Blackpool area. My father worked for ICI who then moved him to work in Scotland.

It took six months before a house was bought and we all moved to Scotland. In that time, my father came home every second weekend, returning to Scotland on Monday mornings.

I used to walk with him to the railway station. He was a tall man, ex-Army and so marched down the road; I had to jog to keep up with him.

On that walk I held his hand, letting go only at the last moment when he had to get on the train.

Holding his hand, I felt totally secure; letting go was hard. You see I knew that I had nothing to fear because dad was there, he loved me, and he would always keep me safe.

There is a little phrase in the bible that say “perfect love drives out fear”. Now many of us have fears, some are irrational. The number one fear is of dentist, second is of dogs, third is flying and then on the list are things like heights and spiders.

Mine is dogs; I am frightened of dogs and no amount of assurance that “he is only wanting to be friendly” helps – I have no desire to be friendly with their canine pet.

In my job as a church minister, I visit people many of whom who have dogs and I saw someone last week whose dog weighs 11 stone; we were truly able to look each other in the eye.

So, I have had to learn to deal with this. And for me, the way is God. Just as I was secure in my dad’s love, so I want to be secure in God’s love, because God is love.

Rev Dr John Illsley

Haslemere Methodist Church