For over a decade, my life revolved around politics. I ate, drank and slept all things political. Throughout those years, I often saw the worst of men and women which led me to suspect our government’s involvement in a host conspiracies. And invariably the suspicions that I developed led to fears: Who would win elections? Who would govern? What would the opposition do if they gained control? What about our nation’s future? What about my family’s future?
I found over those years though that I was not alone. In fact millions of Americans shared these same questions which led them to fear these same “what if” scenarios as well.
But as I began to extricate my life from all things political, and to focus my time and attention away from short-term issues, with a hunger instead for the eternal, I began to realize that when I feared something, it meant I had given up trusting God.
But recently, I ran across the following verse, that encapsulates the sentiments I’ve attempted to describe. Note what the prophet Isaiah had to say:
💡 “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.” (Isaiah 8:12-13)
And it hit me. It’s natural to fear that which we don’t control — particularly when those in control are not honorable people. But a follower of Christ should literally have “No Fear” when it comes to man, and the myriad of institutions that man creates. When we fall under the spell of fearing man-made agencies and ideologies, we are simply affirming our lack of trust in God Almighty. We are failing to realize that the Sovereign God over all, is in control of all. There is nothing that catches Him by surprise.
Isaiah instructed us to fear nothing or no one, except God. And he also advised us to make God holy in our lives. Holiness and fear are closely related, and they are truths I’m still struggling to consistently affirm in my life. But if we can begin to gain a glimpse of God’s holiness, it will lead us to fear Him. And yes, I’m talking about fear, the kind that makes us “tremble” as Isaiah cautioned. Too many in our pulpits interpret the word “fear” as simply respect. But I believe that is an inaccurate or incomplete interpretation of the word, as a thorough reading of the Bible from cover to cover amply affirms.
More often than not, we fear everything but God. Our actions reflect such. We vote out of fear. We fear the same things that unbelievers fear. We dread the stuff that others dread. We see conspiracies in everything. And those conspiracies simply deepen our fears. And the cycle continues.
And while we’re busy fearing all these things, our behavior affirms that we do not fear the One we should fear: the Holy God. We don’t pursue Him. We don’t seek to please Him. We consistently ignore His commands. We seldom open the Book He gave us to teach us what He values. But we have plenty of time for everything else.
So let’s begin to heed Isaiah’s admonition: Have No Fear… except the Fear of God. If we will truly follow this course, our behavior will change, worry will diminish, and peace will consume us.
Live Free… with No Fear!
Has Campaign 2016 left you feeling like you are about to drown in a barrage of fear and moral corruption? Have you experienced any of these emotions over the last few months? Angst? Anger? Worry? Uncertainty? Nervousness? Fear?
As I’ve engaged in political discourse, I have seen these emotions permeating the discussions. It’s clear that Americans are experiencing an extreme degree of angst. The level of fear that is expressed by conservatives, republicans, independents, and democrats seems to be off the charts.
Our future appears to have been boiled down to the choice that will prevail on November 8th. While there are monumental factors at stake that are driving the choices Americans will make at the ballot box, there have been other seminal moments for our nation.
If you think back over your life, you can no doubt identify times when your future was dire and bleak. Similarly, while our nation’s homeland has faced a relatively tranquil and prosperous series of decades, there have been periods in our history when citizens wondered if the Republic would survive.
I’m reminded of a passage in the gospels where the disciples were fearing for their lives. The story is found in Matthew 8 and highlights one day in the life of Jesus. Throughout that day, Jesus healed a leper, a paralytic child, a feverish lady, cast out a demon, and healed dozens of others. At the end of this “day in the life of Jesus” where the miraculous became almost commonplace, Jesus led his disciples into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.
Shortly after Jesus and the disciples embarked on the journey, a violent storm encompassed their boat. The disciples, terrified by the tempest that surrounded them, and the waves that were crashing inside the boat, yelled out in utter hopelessness, to a sleeping Jesus.
“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Consider exactly what the disciples were revealing with those chilling words. First, they had completely forgotten what they had just witnessed earlier in the day, when Jesus performed miracle after miracle, reflecting His complete dominion over the physical and spiritual. Second, consider that this supernatural Man had led them directly into the boat. While they were unaware of what lay ahead, Jesus fully understood what that dark night held for them. Finally, while Jesus knew there was a storm directly in their path, He also knew that the storm was not the object of that night. Rather, a lesson that the disciples needed to experience and learn, was precisely what Jesus had in mind.
So Jesus awoke to the disciples’ screams of fear, panic, and hopelessness. He saw it in their eyes, heard it in their voices, and fully understood their emotions. But, He did not immediately deliver them from their greatest fears. Rather, as the waves were swirling around their knees, Jesus questioned:
“Why are you fearful?”
Did the disciples not understand what the purpose of the last twelve hours had been? Did they not remember that Jesus was the Son of God? Did they fail to comprehend that He delivered dozens from physical and spiritual oppression? Did they not realize the most obvious reality, that Jesus was in the boat with them? Could they perish with the Son of God at their side?
Yet they so easily forgot, just as we so often do. But notice Jesus’ next words.
“O you of little faith.”
The disciples had within minutes lost their trust in the very Creator of the universe; the God-man who had called them to follow Him, and told them things about themselves that only God could have know; the Nazarene who they were seeing live a perfect life, who had turned water into wine, healed the sick and lame, brought words to the lips of the mute, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.
Yet, fear gripped the disciples and they lost their faith. And what was drowned out that night by the storms that swirled around them was not their physical lives, but more importantly their spiritual faith.
But then, despite the fear and lack of faith by the disciples, we read these words:
“Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”
If Jesus can halt physical storms can He not conquer the storms in your life, and our nation? Of course He can. And although there are clear biblical principles that instruct us to not simply sit back and do nothing, we also learn from Matthew 8 that what we are often lacking is faith.
Faith that believes.
Faith that trusts.
And, as we learn in the book of James, faith that is revealed by our works, for we read that “faith without works is dead.”
Remember that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” The same Jesus that saved His disciples from drowning that stormy night, is the same One who is fully aware of the storms in your life, and our nation. But will you and I acknowledge, trust, and follow Him, not just on November 8th, but more importantly on November 9th and forward?
In just a few days our nation will enter a new era. It could be a very stormy and tumultuous period. So we have two choices. Will we turn to the ultimate answer for a stormy future and return to the only One who can guide us through these storms? Or will we trudge on, in fear, disunity and hopelessness?
Politicians, their Parties and ideological movements are not our hope. There is only one Hope: Jesus Christ. Let’s turn to Him as we climb into the boat that will traverse a Clinton or Trump Presidency. It’s going to get rough, but we know that God Himself “will never leave us nor forsake us.“
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3