My Bible Class lessons of late have been on the subject of fear. How it punishes and torments us — even though we do it to ourselves. It is also a thief, stealing the peace that passes all understanding which is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ. A peace that is not as the world gives — through things we can see — but through the things that are invisible. That is, the promises of God and the essence and character of God.
Moreover, not only does fear steal our peace, it steals opportunities for us to glorify God through trusting Him.
These are all familiar concepts, which I learned years ago, and had reinforced countless times since. And still fear gets the best of me far too often. Fear is the province of the sin nature, the weapon of the kingdom of darkness in its quest to pull us out of God’s plan for our lives, and in so doing, to discredit Him and insult Him. Because fear basically says God’s a liar, and impotent.
Fear paralyzes us, cripples us and stifles creativity. Yes, he said creativity. And yes, I am very much aware of the fact that it chokes off creativity. But… sigh…I tend to forget… (Which is why I need Bible class every day.)
I love the story of the Israelites as they left Egypt in the Exodus, led by the pillar of cloud right up to the waters of the Red Sea, mountains to the right, mountains to the left, nowhere to go and Pharaoh’s army churning up a huge dust cloud as it rumbled toward them. None of the Israelites knew how to fight, none of them had any weapons, there was nowhere for them to go except back the way they’d come and that’s where the soldiers were.
But of course, this is the group of people who had just seen 10 amazing miracles performed by their God in His plan to persuade Pharoah to let them go. They’d just seen the deaths of all the first-born in Egypt, people and cattle, except in the land of Goshen where the Jews lived, where those who believed had marked the sign of the cross in blood on the lintels and door posts of their homes so that when the Lord came to smite the Egyptians he passed over them.
They’d gone out with a high hand after that, and now only a few days later … here was Pharoah’s army. So what did they do? Forgetting all about the things they’d just learned, they focused on the Egyptians who were marching after them, stared hard at them, maybe trying to figure out how many they were, maybe seeing the glint of armor or spear or chariot wheel through the dust. They thought about them, and all their prowess on the battlefield. Thought about how fast the chariots could go, and imagined how they would plow into the company of Israelites, men, women and children, most of them afoot. They struggled to think of a way of escape and as they looped through all these thoughts, became completely terrified. Soon the sons of Israel were screaming in panic and terror to the Lord. Then they blamed Moses for having brought them out there just to die, and bitterly longed to have been left alone as slaves in Egypt.
Did I mention that fear also makes us completely stupid?
Moses commanded the people to get a grip. He told them to stop freaking out and,
“…stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.”
And I think keep silent not only means stop screaming and whining and blaming and moaning, but stop all the frantic thinking as well. Instead of focusing on the problem and trying fifty ways from seven to come up with a solution, STOP. Quiet your brain and relax. Step back and watch Him solve it. Think about who He is, what He’s done, what He’s promised.
“And God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with him freely give us all things.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:28 – 31
“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you,” so that we may confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What shall mere man do to me?” ~ Heb 13:5-6
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jer 29:11
“Call upon me and I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” ~ Jer 33:3
“The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” ~ Ps 84:11
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” ~ Ps 27:1
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” ~Ps 62:5
“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” ~Ro 9:16
I realized, in the midst of Friday’s lesson that I was letting fear stop me on Sky, letting it paralyze me three pages in because I didn’t know where I was going. What if I chose the wrong sequence? What if it led me off on a goose chase? I could spend months writing useless words. I don’t have months to waste like that!
Recognizing it was immensely freeing. It’s a first draft, after all. It’s supposed to be provisional, and I was assuming that God was unable to guide me. Further, one of my guiding verses has long been this passage from Hebrews 11:8:
“By faith, Abraham, when he was called obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was going.”
To “go out” he had to take steps — had to get up and leave his tent and walk in a direction. And he did so, not knowing where he was going. If he didn’t know where he was going, how did he know which way to go? He didn’t. And yet he went.
The parallel to my situation is almost exact. To go out, I have to write a certain line of action and conflict. How do I know which one to choose? I don’t. I just have to choose one and go forward. Write it out, don’t look back and just keep on keeping on, trusting that God can lead me. Even if it doesn’t look like He is.
After that I returned to Sky and worked through to page 12, but since I cut 2 pages in the process, I’m actually on page 10. That’s 9 pages from where I started out, the biggest jump in pages I’m made in a long, long time. I’m quite pleased. 🙂
Thank you, Karen. I think I need to print out those verses you referenced and put them somewhere I look frequently.
Interesting that you should make the fear/thief connection. Just last week I read a post by Jason Gray, a singer/songwriter who just released an album with a song “No Thief Like Fear.” You can see the post and song lyrics here: http://www.rabbitroom.com/2011/09/track-3-no-thief-like-fear/. His primary reminder is that as fallen humans we will fear, but God gives us the one right place/person to fear: Himself.
Some while ago I compiled my own little list of “fear” verses, including Deut. 1:29-30a, 7:21, 9:3. 33:6, 33:8 (lots to learn about fear from those Israelites! 😉 ).
Thanks for this post, Karen. Great to be reminded where my eyes should be fixed.
And that’s exciting about the progress God gave you on Sky as you went forward. Interesting that going forward was the next command God gave, after Moses told the people to settle down and see God work.