“The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
If you and I are anything alike, I imagine that you have been afraid of a few things just like I have been when we were growing up. I was afraid of the dark for quite some time until I eventually grew out of it. I grew up in an era when teachers paddling kids who got out of line in primary and elementary schools was legal. Somehow I always found myself on the other end of that paddle. Mrs. Bell, my third grade teacher and a good friend to my mother, always had a way of straightening me up with her paddle. I was indeed afraid of that specially designed piece of wood that she used on our back side. As if the paddling she gave me for disrupting her class wasn’t enough, she would tell my mother what I did when they talked on Sunday morning at church. You can probably guess what the conversation was on the ride home.
As I grew up through my teenage years and on into adulthood, I realized that there were still things I was afraid of. Some of those things I was able to conquer and some of them I was not. I learned that those fears I couldn’t conquer had the potential to consume me or could make me stronger should I find a way to overcome. As a person who was raised in the church, I knew that the only way to rid myself of my fears was to pray my way through them. There is truth in the cliché that prayer changes things.
Maybe this has never happened to you along your Christian walk, but I can remember a time or two that God has blessed and delivered me from certain self-inflicted pain and I conveniently forgot about His awesome power. Once I was in the clear and things were going my way again, I neglected to witness to others about His glory. I am very active in my church and failed to mention to my fellow Christians that I made it through not by my own will and strength, but by His grace and mercy. Could I have been fearful again? Was I afraid of what they would say if I told them about what God had done for me?
What is fear when it comes to us as Christians? I think it is either our inability or blatant refusal to live our hopes and dreams and destiny in the manner in which God intended. We fear the obstacles that we see in front of us instead of fearing the God who tells us that our obstacles are no match for Him. We fear people and circumstances instead of relying on the faith that can make those people and circumstances disappear. If we place our fears, people, idols, and institutions above our God, then aren’t we in essence practicing syncretism? Syncretism is worshipping two Gods. Although I’m no Bible scholar, I do know that we are commanded not to do this very thing. Do you remember, “Thou shall have no other Gods before me”?
I believe that when we abandon our faith and fear man instead of God, we cause God to become a stumbling stone instead of that place of peace and safety. I find this especially true when ignoring what God has assigned us to do. In Isaiah 7, we learn that the King of Israel and the King of Syria were plotting to bring an attack on King Ahaz of Judah and wreak havoc on Jerusalem. When King Ahaz learned of this, he became upset and fearful and as a result his people became fearful. The Bible explains that the people trembled in fear like trees shaking in a storm. God sent Isaiah and his son to meet King Ahaz with this message: “Tell them to stop worrying and that he need not fear these two kings. This invasion will never happen; it will never take place”. More importantly, God says this: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” In other words, unless King Ahaz’s faith is firm, God wouldn’t be able to make him stand firm. King Ahaz heard the word of God but refused to test the Lord in His word. Instead, King Ahaz turned to the Assyrians to help him fight a battle that God said would not happen. Surely the King of Assyria and his army came but they came against King Ahaz and made Judah a vassal state.
As I continue on in my walk with God, I will be careful to follow His direction. I do not want God to be my stumbling stone because of a lack of faith on my part. Quite frankly, I have enough things that can make me stumble but my faith in Him allows me to remain steady on my feet. As I am the priest and prophet of my home I must lead my family in a manner that is pleasing to God. Certainly, one thing that we understand is that if we can’t stand on His word, then surely we can’t stand.