Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened,
and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
I am not quite sure why it is that we struggle so much with realizing that "fearing not" takes work - just as many of the other commandments do.
It does not seem to surprise us that "Be patient" is going to take a lot of slogging through stuff to get any kind of handle on it. Of course, that could just be me. I am not a patient person by nature. When I would walk down the front sidewalk at the retirement home where my Mother lived, the elderly residents would often remark to me, "I wish I could still walk that fast" or "In a hurry, are you?".
It was always a reminder to me that a) I would someday no longer be able to hurry all the time, so maybe I needed to learn to slow down now - b) moving quickly does not always mean that I know where I am going.
Likewise, God's admonition to "Be kind to one another" - that never takes me off guard in knowing that I am going to have to put some effort into that one as well. Let's face it - I just don't always feel like being kind, and thus, in order to be obedient in this regard, I must disregard my own feelings and focus on God's clear command.
So why is it that when He says, "Fear not" - I just think it is supposed to happen "abbra cadabbra"? I have given this some thought and here is where I have come to with my own struggles with the "courage factor."
First, when God tells me to fear not, it presupposes that I may already be afraid. Well, truthfully, I just hate that notion. I have always taken a good deal of satisfaction in being pretty stalwart, if you will. So it makes me "wiggly in my own skin" to know that He already sees my fear and is calling me on it.
Secondly, it points me to my complete dependency on Him. Someone once said that all God's dealings with His children are designed to teach them their own dependency upon Him. There again, He has me at my most vulnerable. I don't like being dependent upon anyone - humanly speaking, that is. So it is embarrassing when I am presented with the fact that I sometimes unintentionally extend this self-sufficiency to God. Now that is truly humiliating - who in the world do I think I am?
Which brings me to my final observation on this week's quote - "be not dismayed." Yeah, right. When I worked in the corporate world, I was sometimes described as "unflappable". Revenues down, budgets in disarray, personnel on the fritz? Send it over to Marsha, she is unflappable.
So it rattles me when God tells me to "be not dismayed" - because it shows me that He knows exactly how dismayed I sometimes really am. Busted!
We have lived in the same house for the past 20 years, and plan to move this year. But where and when and at what cost? I'm dismayed.
The doctor told me this month that I have cataracts on both eyes and may need surgery in the future. And I have another attendant eye condition with possible sight loss implications in the future. Dismayed? Nailed right where I sit.
Fear not, be not dismayed - it is going to take some work. Just like being patient or kind or living out any of the other attributes He requires of us does; but the fact is that even with a lot of work, a ton of work, I will not be able to achieve and maintain that stance.
It is only when I remember that He is with me, and His grace is sufficient that I am at peace. And thus, as Tiny Tim said many years ago, may God bless us one and all. He is, after all, with us wherever we go.