Tuesday, September 12, 2017
A Journey - The Precipice of Fear
A Journey - Walking Along The Precipice of Fear
When You're Between a Rock and a Hard Place. But now, GOD's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end -- Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. " So don't be afraid: I'm with you. I'll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I'll send orders north and south: 'Send them back. Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child Whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one.' "
( Isaiah 43:1-7 - The Message)
As a Christian I know that I am no longer meant to live in fear (Romans 8 v 11-17) but it is something that I find to easier said than done. Judging by the conversations I have with other people, it would appear that I am not the only one in this predicament; walking the precipice of fear each day. While that may be some consolation, it is not a lot of help; rather like two people on the Titanic as it is sinking saying "never mind we are all in the same boat!!" So why is it when we are meant to be victorious, living a abundant life in the knowledge of a God who loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for and redeem us, that so often our lives seem to be paralyzed by fear? Jesus' promise that we will live an abundant life (John 8 v 7-10) appears to be a distant concept that we cannot even contemplate. We are too busy trying to survive, desperately hoping that things will get better, but becoming increasingly resigned to the fact that they probably will not.
I would be deceiving you if I claimed to have a comprehensive answer, but I think that Isaiah 43 v 1 - 7 does start to provide some insight. The first error that I find I often encounter in my thinking is that of always equating spiritual security with physical security. Sometimes these two concepts do coincide but often they do not. You may notice that at first glance, this passage from Isaiah does not seem all that re-assuring . from the perspective of physical security. From a worldly standpoint one of the first steps with regards to physical security is to be aware of your surroundings and avoid bad places whenever possible. People who don't follow such axioms are usually termed daredevils, crazy or, when things go wrong, stupid or irresponsible. In this context, phrases Isaiah seems to suggest that our physical security is going to be in jeopardy. Consider such phrases such as:
"When you are between a rock and a hard place"
"When you are in over your head"
"When you are in rough waters"
All these phrases indicate that at times we are going to be in places that we would much rather avoid, places that are instincts may scream at us not to go ..... and yet it is expected that we will encounter them. Why?
In such circumstances, rather than focus on the location of where we might be, it is more helpful to focus on the context in which we might be there. Returning to the passage in Isaiah; what starts to come through for each of the phrases cited above, is firstly that God promises we will not be alone. However, more than that each of the situations we face are going to be faced in and with the full power of God. So often we assume that God has placed us in a situation with which we are ill equipped to deal to somehow solve it, as opposed to realizing that God wants us there to bear witness to the power, authority, compassion and might of the one who is capable of solving it. To paraphrase a little, it's almost like God is saying to us:
"What do I have to do to convince you that I have not brought you this far to abandon you and watch you writhe in your inadequacy? Look at the lengths I've gone to get you back and what I am prepared to give in exchange for you? I want you to see and bear witness to the fact that there is nowhere you can go or nothing that can happen that will separate you from me or my love for you (Romans 8 v 28-39). All fear does is stop you from bearing witness to others about how much I love you and them. Instead of screaming to be removed from a situation, trust me and witness what I can do. "
This brings us back to the concept of physical security. God is providing us security by showing us that in Him there is no storm that we cannot weather, as opposed to letting us live in a constant state of fear that "it is only a matter of time before a storm will come along that will eventually overwhelm us"; in other words we are constantly living on the precipice of fear. So what happens when we live constantly on the precipice of fear? I can best illustrate this by perhaps sharing with you an event from my honeymoon!
For our honeymoon my wife and I spent two weeks in a place called Pula in the northern part of what was then Yugoslavia. It was a beautiful place accessible through winding roads through high mountain passes. At the airport the tour company through whom we had booked the trip, arranged for a coach to take us and a number of other holiday-makers from the airport to our respective hotels. I ended up being seated by the window that was next to the open side of the mountains. At many locations there were no safety barriers and the roads were so narrow that the coach used every last inch of the road, right up to the edge. On more than one occasion, as we followed the winding roads down the mountain, I looked out of my window to see the coach displace small rocks which immediately plummeted several hundred feet into the valley below. It was very disconcerting and I tried not to look out of the window too often! Imagine that I choose only to fixate on the rocks, and how close the coach was to plummeting down the valley after the rocks it displace, instead of seeing the beauty and majesty of creation around me and enjoying the start of my married life, I would have ended up only focussing on the precipice of fear which would have obliterated everything else! That is what living on the precipice of fear does, it obliterates truths that you would otherwise see and be able to live, truths that you can experience peace, rejoice and feel secure and rest in God's love. Christians often refer to the obscuring of those truths as "Spiritual Warfare"
I don't know what the precipices of fear you face in your daily life. Maybe it's the precipice of depression, the precipice of betrayal, the precipice of failure, the precipice of not being accepted or loved or the precipice of illness. These are only some of the precipices we might face, there are many others. They can be difficult to deal with and very quickly we can be deceived into thinking that we are facing them alone. The question is when these precipices of fear appear are we going to choose (yes contrary to what it appears there is a choice) to face them in isolation or choose to go to God who has said:
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end -- Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. " So don't be afraid: I'm with you."