fear

God sees death differently than we do.

God sees death differently than we do.

2 Kings 20

Once again, we encounter the subject of death, and I thought Hezekiah’s reaction on the news of his impending fate was telling (and quite familiar): "Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 'Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly." (vs 2-3)

Fear {gn46:3}

genesis-fear-poem.png

Someday we will understand
just how much
we were ruled by fear
in this world,
how we inhaled
and exhaled
fear
when all the time
we thought we were
breathing oxygen.

Fear is our daily diet.
Fear of dying,
fear of living,
fear of being stuck.
Fear for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
and as many snacks as we can
cram in between.
We are so steeped
in fear
that we think
to be human
is to be afraid.
But this was not
the original
design.

Fear is what we ate
at the tree,
fear the disease
that infected
our first parents
and then their children
and their children
and their children's children.

Fear is malware,
implanted by an enemy,
introduced by an interloper
so long ago,
a virus that will
eventually
crash the system
for good
if we don't allow
our manufacturer
to return us to
the factory default.

God is always telling us
to not be afraid.
This is not parental placating.
This is war propaganda.

To choose to be unafraid
is not a rejection of our nature,
but a rejection of the enemy.

To choose to be unafraid
is not a sentimental act,
but a revolutionary one.

 

God dissolves sin.

God dissolves sin.

1 SAMUEL 12

Out of this whole chapter, there was one verse that jumped out at me. As Samuel was giving his farewell address to the Israelites, they began to lament over the new evil they had done—asking for a king. In response to their distress, "Samuel answered, 'Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you have sinned, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart.'" (vs 20)

True Famine {gn43}

Photo © Unsplash/Patrick Hendry

Photo © Unsplash/Patrick Hendry

There was no food to be found
growing in the land
but there was
a bumper crop of fear.

Jacob was afraid
he was going to starve to death
or lose Benjamin
trying not to.

Jacob's sons were afraid
of being overpowered
captured
and forced into slavery
     in other words
     exactly what
     they had done
     to Joseph.

Fear, fear everywhere
as if there was
no God of our fathers
no Yahweh-Elohim
no Jehovah-Jireh.

What would it have mattered
if Israel had no shortage of food
when there was such a
famine of faith?

 

God wants our attention.

God wants our attention.

DEUTERONOMY 2

In this chapter of Deuteronomy, the Lord said to the Israelites, "This very day, I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you." (vs 25) This immediately made me think of the Israelites themselves when they were camped around the base of Mount Sinai. There was thunder and lightning and smoke, and the Israelites were trembling and afraid.

God is a refuge!

God is a refuge!

NUMBERS 35

There is a beautiful analogy about God in this chapter of Numbers. If a person had unintentionally killed another person, the cities of refuge provided a place for them to flee when they were being pursued by the "avenger." If the "avenger" found them outside the city, they could be killed, thus "avenging" the death. But if the person made it to the city of refuge, they could request a trial. If found innocent, they would be allowed to stay in the city. If they were found guilty, however, they would be turned away from the city.

On Not Controlling Outcomes {gn12:11-13}

Photo © Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai

Photo © Unsplash/Denys Nevozhai

You promised Abraham blessings galore,
Progeny more than the sand on the shore.
Still, he was worried he might come across
Someone with power to turn gain to loss.
So he embarked on a self-serving plan:
Impersonating an unmarried man.

I know I'm prone to a similar skew,
Trying to pull off what you said you'd do.
It shouldn't matter if life remains rough.
All of your promises should be enough.
I should be willing to stay on my knees
And let you work out your plan as you please.

Help me to trust you beyond what I see
And not to fear what the outcome will be.

 

Sonnet: A poem consisting of 14 lines with a particular rhyming scheme.

God gives tears for fears.

God gives tears for fears.

GENESIS 43

One of the things this chapter does so well is draw a big distinction between the way our mind works and the way God’s mind works. I see an awful lot of God in Joseph, particularly in this point in the story. He knows now that his older brothers and father are still alive. He’s not so sure about his younger brother. Certainly, he hasn’t forgotten about being sold into slavery. Yet, Joseph never harbors any ill will toward his brothers for what they have done to him. He treats them kindly, though he must wonder if they have tried to get rid of Benjamin (Rachel’s other child) as they had gotten rid of him.

God is reassuring.

God is reassuring.

GENESIS 26

Ever since Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent at the tree, relations  between human beings have been ruled by fear. This chapter is a great example. Isaac takes his family down to Gerar, and Abimelech is still the king (as he was in Abraham’s time). And, continuing the time-honored family tradition of dishonesty, Isaac told the same lie about Rebekah that his father had told about Sarah—and for exactly the same reason. He was afraid.

God is a peacemonger.

God is a peacemonger.

GENESIS 15

Genesis 15 begins with the word of the Lord coming to Abram, and the first thing God says is, "Do not be afraid."

If there was a way to sum up in one, short sentence the overarching message of God to humankind in the Bible, it would have to be this: Do not be afraid. It appears over and over and over again in the Scriptures. It is often, quite literally, the first thing out of the mouth of God or His heavenly messengers when they encounter human beings.