After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great." Genesis 15:1 NASB
That's the first one.
That's the first time in the bible God tells one of His to be fearless. As it appears so many more times through the remainder of scripture, I admit I'm surprised it took this long before He had to say it. According to translations of Masoretic text (meaning Hebrew), we are probably nearly 2000 years post-creation before God tells a human not to fear. Really?!? Noah didn't have to be told??? I have a new level of awe for Noah's faith. My assumption here is that, because it was noted so many other times later when someone was told to be unafraid, if Noah had needed telling, we'd have known about it. (But that's just my opinion...) Further, if we back up to when God initially spoke to Abram there was apparently not a need for it then. Why? Honestly, if the God of the Universe suddenly started speaking to me, making promises about descendants, nations, etc. and then told me to pack up and go... away... leaving family, without including a destination or duration, in the twilight of my years, for a perpetual camping trip, I would probably need some consoling! However, it was not until several miles into the journey that Abram needed this nugget of encouragement.
Then comes more questions: Why did Abram have to be told? What did he have to be afraid of? The preceding passage quotes him as saying "that I will not take a thread or sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich'" (v. 14:23). Then there was his lying about his relationship with Sarai for the sake of self-preservation. My assumption is that while he had the gumption to pack up and take a trek, he was not operating entirely with the boldness God wanted from him. After all, if he had REALLY taken to heart the promise God made him at the outset then he would not need to fear the opinions of men; God had already promised greatness. He did not need to fear for his life; God had already promised descendants (which one has to be alive to make).
Which, I suppose, brings us to ourselves. If each of us is honest, we have some level of some form of fear. Fear is born of ingratitude which is born of ignorance. (Let me flip that over and try to explain better...) If we ignore the promises of God then we do not see our blessings for what they are, if we do not see our blessings then we start to feel lack, if we feel that we lack then we begin to fear for provision or fulfillment. Once we develop a fear then we tend to begin brainstorming ideas to fix what we see as a problem and once we take problem solving into our own hands we usually end up in sin.
I hope it's not wrong for me to throw a little love in the direction of Ann Voskamp. If you haven't heard of her, I highly recommend a visit to A Holy Experience; her posts are a very regular source of gentle, loving conviction for me. I'm also about half way through her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and it is helping me change my focus. While I've been ruminating on the whole fear issue for some time now (I realized what I posted yesterday had an initial date on the draft of October 2011), I wasn't sure where to find the antidote. I'm learning. As Ann has pointed out, if we are constantly aware of the gifted graces all around us then we feel comfortably full. When we miss them, we feel empty. Abram must not have been feeling too full of God's blessings where he was in his journey if God needed to command him not to fear.
Begin asking God to prepare you for Him to reveal your fears. It's a tough experience. Once you are ready He will begin to show you. As He does, dig into His Word and find out the promises He has made to the contrary of your fear. Once you know His promises, you can remind yourself as often as you need to. Start taking note (literally, with a pen and paper) of every instance He blesses you, and the "fear knot" that binds each of our hearts, will begin to unravel.
Today I'm praying for/about:
Today, (in no particular order) I'm praying for...
- Fresh ideas, inspiration and diligence to post regularly again
- My dad fighting mesothelioma too far away for me to hug him
- Children, parents, and teachers everywhere preparing to return to school
- My single friends as they seek God for His guidance in relationships
- Broken relationships; for grace to abound where grace has been withheld
- You; I'm praying for every single person who views this blog.
Thank you for standing in agreement with me for these precious souls!