Afraid?

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The back pain that has afflicted me this week brought me a temptation – to fear! “Jerry,” the little voice whispers, “this is just a taste of what’s ahead as you age. You’re going to be less physically capable from now on.”  Experience teaches me that when I allow fear to be the dominant emotion in my life, I say and do regrettable things. When life feels out of control I tend to be defensive and angry. In those moments I am less loving. When fear is in the driver’s seat of my life, I lose hope. Fear generally makes me self-protective, putting ‘armor’ in place that cuts me off from my best resources.

So, some might say, just don’t be afraid.  It’s not that easy!

When we view life from a purely natural point of view, there is much to fear! Concerns about aging, for example, are a reality, but I am a fool to let those possibilities rob me of today’s joy. 3 of my adult children and their families live in South Florida and today’s forecast has them in the direct path of a Cat. 4 hurricane this weekend. I could be very fearful for their well-being.

The real answer is radical FAITH. Ironically, the deepest faith is born of profound fear; the fear of the Lord. When we ponder His majesty, remember His works, and contemplate the Word, we catch a glimpse of His true nature. No one can see even a small part of Who He is and not tremble. Just a few descriptors of Him include: “Beginning and End, Judge of all the Earth, Maker of Heaven and Earth, the One who sets up kings and takes them down, and Discerner of even the thoughts and intents of every heart.”  Tragically, even many Christians have made God so small, taming Him to Someone Whom they can perceive as safe, that they can no longer radically trust Him. When we trim down our God so that He fits inside of our preconceived ideas about Who He must be, we will surely grow fearful in this world.

The God of Glory is not like an indulgent grandfather. He is not a kindly old man who hands out candy to nice people. He is Eternal, Mysterious, Majestic, and Wholly Other! Isaiah tried to describe the awfulness of the Lord. His vision is almost incomprehensible to those of us in the 21st century. Here is what he wrote – “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”  It is a scene of wonder.

Remarkably Isaiah did not say, “Wow. I wanna go and get a ‘high 5’ from the Big Guy.”  Silly, right?  Instead, he cries in terror – “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:1-5, NIV)

Most of us don’t want a God Who makes us feel something like terror, and we sacrifice the knowledge of His majesty, that He is larger than our fears, that He lives beyond time, that He owns the earth, and that He holds us – life and death – in His hands; in order to make Him more friendly, approachable. But, in that, we rob ourselves of the peace that comes from knowing an Awesome God. When I let God be truly God, His Presence reduces my fear as faith grows.  “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.” (Psalm 112:1, NIV) Awe creates a desire to do good, to subjugate my will to His. “Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.” (Psalm 112:6-8, NIV)  Go back and read those lines again. Isn’t that how you want to live – securely, fearlessly, with hope for the future?

When fear comes Instead of trying to stand on my own limited strength, I must bow my head and fall to my knees before Him. I must confess, aloud, “You are God and I am not.”  And, I will match confession with a daily choice to to live in the fear of the Lord that is expressed in faithful obedience.  “I will bow down … and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:2-3, NIV)

There is only one good fear – the fear of the Lord. Go before Him, reverently, yet in full confidence of His love. Tell Him of the things that make you afraid. That is not lack of faith. But remember to take the next step to worship. Praise Him for His greatness. Praise Him that He is eternal, that His purposes prevail. You will find your fear of this present world eclipsed by the fear of the Lord from whom comes peace.

The word from the Word is a passage that tells of the response of King Hezekiah to a threatening letter he received from neighboring powers. As you read it, I pray faith will rise in your mind and heart and that perhaps you, too, will take your fear to the Throne of God.

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it.
Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.

And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD:  

“O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God. “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.

Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (Isaiah 37:14-20, NIV)

You are God, alone!
_______

You Are God Alone

(Worship with this song by Philips, Craig, and Dean)

You are not a god created
By human hands
You are not a god dependent
On any mortal man
You are not a god in need of
Anything we can give
By Your plan
That’s just the way it is

You are God alone from before time began
You were on Your throne You are God alone
And right now in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne You are God alone

You’re unchangeable You’re unshakable
You’re unstoppable that’s what You are
You’re unchangeable You’re unshakable
You’re unstoppable that’s what You are

You’re the only God whose power
None can contend
You’re the only God whose name and
Praise will never end
You’re the only God who’s worthy
Of ev’rything we can give
You are God
That’s just the way it is

And right now in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne You are God alone

Billy J. Foote | Cindy Foote © 2004 Billy Foote Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (  Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing -CCLI License # 810055

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