Nothing to Fear

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“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” ~ Genesis 3:8-10

It only takes three chapters in the Bible to get to a place where fear is a prevalent emotion. Adam and Eve disobeyed God. This was the first time they had ever done something against God’s design and intent. God specifically warned them that if they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. But they both ate the fruit, and they were still alive. Adam and Eve began experiencing many things at the moment of disobedience, but not immediate physical death.

In the cool of the evening, God walked with them in the garden. They had an intimate relationship with the Lord. Their evening strolls were the highlight of each day. They knew the place and time to meet, this was a routine, the most important part of their calendar. But yet, when they sinned, they were afraid. So afraid that they hid from God. Was God going to be the cause of their death? How could they know?

I have a friend who grew up in a strict Catholic family. When she left the house she left Catholicism. Many years later, now married for sometime and with a child, she became attracted to Christianity and now attends church. As she and I talked about faith, she shared with me that growing up she was afraid of God. Her view of God as a child was incredibly far from a loving Savior. She freely shared that, as a child, she was so fearful that if she did something bad her family would die.

So does God have anger management issues and is He just waiting to pounce on the next disobedient person? Not in the least. There is a healthy form of fear I’ll discuss in next week’s post but God’s desire for our relationship with Him is far from cowering in fear.

Genesis is a beautiful book in the Bible, and the beginning really sets the tone for all of our lives. God knows all, so He knew the moment when Adam and Eve disobeyed Him. But God did not pounce. He showed up at the time and place where they met every single day. He showed up and was ready to have a conversation, not a lecture, not an immediate death sentence. In His grace, although they would now experience physical death, they (and we) would have eternal life with Him as it was meant to be at the beginning of creation, if they trusted in Him.

little-boy-3332111_1920God’s reply to their disobedience was two questions. “Where are you?” as we already said, implying that He did not move. It was Adam and Eve that moved away from Him. And, “Who told you that you were naked?” meaning, those are not My words. You are listening to someone besides Me. Who told you that you were anything LESS than who I created you to be?

I could write pages just about the richness and beauty in spite of horrific pain in Genesis chapter three. But I’ll try to remain brief.

After Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God provided for them, and protected them. The first sacrifice was made so that they could have clothes. But this sacrifice points to the sacrifice of Jesus, so that we can have clothes of righteousness. God sent them out from the garden so that we would be able to live with God forever. Sending them from the garden was protecting them from being able to eat of the tree of life or eternal damnation.

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You see, when God tells us “no” it is always for our very own protection. And, quite possibly, for the benefit of generations to come. And when we disobey God, we do have to be responsible for our own choices, and we do have consequences. But God is an incredibly merciful and loving God. In fact, when we do mess up, God does not want us cowering in our own dark corners of fear, waiting and wondering what He’s going to do. We are told to come to Him. We are invited to come to Him, and told that we can go with confidence to our “meetings in the garden” with Him.

When I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, my favorite part is when the curtain of the temple was torn into two from top to bottom. God literally invites and entreats us to go directly to Him. Anytime, any way.

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Being a Christian does NOT mean we need to clean ourselves up before we go to God. (True change is not even possible without God.) Being a Christian means that we have access, and that we are not to be afraid of approaching God. We are to be fearless, and come as we are.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

I Never Outgrew Fear

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“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ ~ Genesis 15:1

I really had a hard time coming up with October’s blog theme. Nothing stuck, until a single word hit me square between the eyes. And it’s perfect for this month. Whether you acknowledge Halloween, or go to Fall Festivals or not, the concept of scary and fearful things are everywhere right now. So, for October, we’re going to talk about fear.

child-1311854_1920As a child I distinctly remember waking up from bad dreams, but being too fearful to run across the house to my parent’s bedroom. Who knew what was waiting for me in my house’s shadows from here to there. I also remember as a child looking forward to “when I grew up” thinking that I would then not be afraid of things anymore.

I wish that were true. But friend, let me just be real, and reveal a piece of myself to you. I am a very fearful person. Ashamedly so, but I am. I have phobias such as afraid of spiders (I do scream no matter their size). I have irrational fears too (probably because my brain works on over-drive all the time) and I have true, real fears. Fear comes in all different shapes and sizes.

This past week I struggled with fear over dreams not yet coming true. Realizing that dreams are not panning out the way I “planned”, and so I all too easily gave/give into the fear that those dreams may not even happen all-together.

I don’t know if you’re like me at all. Maybe fear isn’t something you struggle with. But I bet someone you know does. God says, “do not fear” 365 times in the Bible. To me, that’s no mistake that we need a reminder to not fear every single day.

Although the concept of fear and being afraid is mentioned from Genesis 3 on, the very first time the actual word “fear” is used in context of people being afraid, is in Genesis 15, the verse above. It’s doubly powerful for me right now, because God was addressing Abram’s dream that he thought would not come true. Isn’t the verse so beautiful? God is SO loving and SO comforting. He doesn’t just tell Abram “Do not fear” period. God said fear not, but then He reminded Abram of truth, of who God is to him, and that comfort is packaged with a promise of reassurance.lantern-827784_1920

I know in my head that I should not fear. I know in my heart that my fear ultimately points to my lack of trust in God, and His good plan for me. But frankly, the head knowledge and the guilt trip of not trusting have never gotten rid of my fears. Looking at this verse, the first time there is f-e-a-r spelled out so clearly, I don’t think the head knowledge and guilt trip are the ways we can get rid of our fear. After years of trying, I know I cannot get rid of my fears on my own. God tells us not to fear, of course. But God is so absolutely loving, that He just doesn’t end with that. He reassures us, and He gives us a promise.

God is with us. God will never leave us or forsake us. He is our peace, and He is our comfort. He is our shield. We are promised that we are heirs with Christ. We are promised that He will wipe away every tear. We are promised that at our final destination, we will live with Him forever.

God didn’t leave us to tackle our fears on our own. That was never His plan, and I am so grateful. He doesn’t condemn us for not trusting Him enough as to get rid of our fear entirely. God lovingly tells us not to fear because God’s got this…whatever your “this” may be. He is sovereign. But in the meantime, as we go through the journey from our fear to His arms…like me as a little girl from my room to my parent’s security…He is there holding out to us our comfort – Himself and His Word. He is with us in the midst of our fears. Thanks be to God.