“…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve Him without fear…”
Every time God made Himself visible or audible in the Old Testament, He left people shaking in their boots. Even angels, in most cases, were too terrible to bear and left seasoned prophets lying as dead men (I believe that is prophetese for “fainted”). Of course, the first words out of their shining mouths were “Fear not!” but I don’t think anyone really listened to them.
My grandmother was a fearful person. She succumbed to agoraphobia late in life and was miserable. I’m not too brave, myself. I have a lot of fears. One of them used to be an unhealthy fear of God. Not the “awe and respect” kind of fear, but the raw, naked, fear-of-anger-and-punishment fear.
When I was five years old, I went to a ten-day campmeeting. The preacher made Hell come alive for me. I saw the dusty floor open up and imagined red-hot flames shooting up, ready to engulf me. I could almost feel the heat. When he gave the altar call, I ran up to the front, knelt my chubby knees on the straw matting, leaned my little arms against the raw board planking that was the altar, and I “prayed through.” Whew! I made it into the kingdom and just barely! I wasn’t going to be burned.
If there is a speck of fear in your soul, abuse will feed it. It is like sugar with yeast—watch out! Fear overcame my soul through the abuse and coupled itself with thoughts of punishment and an angry God who ruled by arbitrary whims that humans could not possibly know. Thank God, He is not like that at all! The old, false gods of Bible times and the gods of the Greeks and Romans were like that, but our God is not. He is very orderly. He tells us plainly what He wants us to know and do. It is not a guessing game. He is not some sick, cosmic practical joker.
Isaiah describes Jesus as a tender plant. There’s nothing very fear-provoking about a tender plant. In fact, I can almost see God bending over it, watching to see if it will make it in its dry ground, cheering it on. There’s nothing very fear-provoking about a warm, blanket-wrapped, milky-smelling baby, either. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was in the throes of praising God and prophesying when he shouted that the coming baby Messiah would “enable us to serve him without fear.” Without fear. Remember, Jesus is the exact representation of God. Whatever Jesus was on Earth, God already was in Heaven. The only ones who feared Jesus on Earth were the ones who had set their hearts against him. Everyone else flocked to Him.
I have to be truthful here and confess that I still am fearful about many things in life. Sometimes I joke to myself and say, “Another year, another fear.” One day as I was obsessing over a new fear, God dropped this gem into my heart: “You are [Sarah’s] daughter if you do what is right and do not give way to fear” (1 Peter 3:6). I was instantly able to turn this new problem over to God and allow Him to take care of it for me. And I really have not been fearful about it since, praise God!
Isaiah 43:1–5 is a tremendous blessing. Please read it and listen to God’s heart.
Walking consistently with God will teach you who He is and what He is like. It will dispel the myths, the legends, and the lies. Being in His presence is not punishing but is a delight. He came to Adam every evening for a walk. May you listen for His footstep and join Him joyfully, too.
This a page from the book When God Roared. Each page will be published, one per day, on this website. We pray that God uses it mightily in your life to swaddle you in His love and heal your precious heart.