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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Better than ... not just like

Here’s whose opinion you should be concerned about: the One who can take your life and then throw you into hell! He’s the only One you should fear! But don’t misunderstand: you don’t really need to be afraid of God, because God cares for every little sparrow. How much is a sparrow worth—don’t five of them sell for a few cents? Since you are so much more precious to God than a thousand flocks of sparrows, and since God knows you in every detail—down to the number of hairs on your head at this moment—you can be secure and unafraid of any person, and you have nothing to fear from God either. (Luke 12:6-7 VOICE)

Do you ever find yourself being afraid of all the wrong things?  I know we all can watch some movie on TV, sitting on the edge of our seat, feeling our heart rate rise, the anxiety building, until all of a sudden the show cuts to a commercial.  I think they actually pause those at times when we just need to get our heart rate back down into the normal range again!  Is what's happening on the screen real?  Not usually.  It is a "story" made up to stimulate our senses and elicit some response from us.  We are not supposed to go through life living with this type of anxiety and dread, though.  Our "fight or flight" response is good - it protects us from stuff that can eat us - but it wasn't meant to be overstimulated or become a place where we dwell all of the time.  Fear has a place - but it doesn't have any place where it comes to our relationship with God!

I have talked with women who have lived with incredibly abusive individuals - some were husbands, others were just boyfriends.  Both tell me the same story - it was an up and down roller coaster of emotion, constantly walking on eggshells and never really knowing what the moment would bring.  There weren't any "commercials" which allowed you to regroup and get that fear under control - they lived with it when they were with them and when they were away from the home.  Why?  The fear became the pervasive theme of their lives, honestly believing there was no way of escape and as though they themselves were the cause of all the things which lead up to them experiencing all that fear anyway!  The men in their lives kept them captive through the dominating forcefulness they exerted over them both emotionally and physically.

I have also been on the receiving end of mistrust from teens who have been abused for so long by every "father figure" in their lives that they just cannot possibly believe you when you tell them God loves them like a father.  They have never really known that type of love, so it is almost impossible for them to relate to it.  Their lives were perhaps influenced by a parent who drank too much, got nasty in their drunken state, and then lost control.  Or maybe they were constantly hearing words from a parent who simply could not see any good or value in them - making them believe they could not or would not ever be of any good other than to be someone's whore or do someone's bidding all their lives.

The good news is that we don't need to approach our heavenly father with this kind of fear. Yes, we respect him as the creator of the universe and the one who loved us so much that nothing stood in the way of him providing a way for us to be totally, perfectly connected with him through all of eternity.  But...we don't stand intimidated before him - nor do we fear any recourse from him - as long as we have said "yes" to Jesus, our relationship with God is bound with a connect which simply cannot be broken.  Too many times we fear God - thinking he is just waiting for us to screw up and then wants to whack us on the head for our screw ups.  If that were the case, God would have a field day in my life alone!  

God isn't standing over us with a big stick, nor is he neglectful of maintaining the connection we need with him.  He is attentive - even when we don't think he is.  He keeps his promises - even when others don't.  He is intuitive about our needs - even before we acknowledge them to him.  We can approach him with trust - because he has proven to be trustworthy.  We will never understand this until we stop seeing him as we have seen that earthly father, authority figure, boyfriend, spouse, or significant other who has disappointed us so deeply in this life. We have to open our eyes to how Jesus presented him - as the one who reaches out to us in grace and mercy - the hallmarks of love in action.  Just sayin!