Week 8 Hope and Certainty
Certainty in Crisis
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love
1 John 4:18
bedience, even just the intent to obey, changes our mindsets so that we expect good things rather than disaster. Abiding in the Lord through prayer, reading Scripture, praise, and fellowship with other Christians feeds our spirits according to the directions God has given in His word. When we adhere to these holy practices and then add obedience—which is less a goal to attain than it is a commitment to instantly hop back onto the obedience path each and every time we fall off—we find peace with God.
Our responses to difficulties differ remarkably when we are walking closely with the Lord as contrasted to how we act during seasons of disobedience. When we are hiding in shame from the Lord, protecting sin we are unwilling to confess and release, we become prey to fear of punishment.
This truth was illustrated for me one day during a time I had been working hard to remain open and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as constantly as I could. That afternoon, a brief rainstorm delivered a few minutes of strong winds that knocked my white rocking chair off the front porch and plastered leaves onto the side of the house. I unplugged my computer just as the lights began to flicker in rhythm with thunder and blinding flashes of lightning. Every appliance groaned and whirred, and then suddenly, the five bulbs in the fixture above our dining room table glowed with strange brightness. I was running to turn off the light switch when the bulbs began to pop with a sound like rifle shots. I skidded to a halt, wincing as I heard strange sizzling sounds in the walls. A dead tree had fallen onto the power line behind our house.
As I prayed safety over our home and possessions, I did not feel afraid. I was transfixed, frozen in midstride as electrical pops and crackles sizzled around me, but inside I was calm. Before the brief light display was over I had mapped how to get my mother outside to safety if the house caught fire and knew what possessions I would carry out with me. Beyond this, I felt an overwhelming sense of the awesomeness of our God. It seemed He was incredibly near with a physical presence as the very walls of my home trembled. I was completely humbled by His power.
I felt a holy respect for the power of God, but I was not afraid because I trusted His absolute goodness. In fact, even as the house seemed in imminent danger of catching fire, I had a strong feeling that the Lord was delivering a blessing to me. Our electric pole had listed at an angle for years, and my first coherent thought was that perhaps the Lord was answering the prayers I’d lifted about needed repairs. This reflected a parameter shift for me. When circumstances looked bleak that day, I looked for a positive outcome rather than assuming my world was about to come to an end.
Confidence in the Lord is a wonderful place to inhabit. At the time of this storm I had learned to look for His hand after upsetting or frightening events occurred, but until this day I had rarely avoided an initial response of panic in emergencies. However, on the day of the lightening storm, I didn’t have to work hard to find God because I instantly felt certain that He was in control. The prior weeks of abiding and obeying had changed my expectations from fear of punishment to an automatic assumption that my God meant me good and not harm.
In the weeks that followed, that pole was not just straightened; the unsightly thing was removed and the power lines were buried. Our fuse box was replaced and updated, changes that had been much needed. The confidence I’d felt in the midst of the storm came to fruition with blessings beyond any I could have anticipated.
God gives us so much for so ridiculously little. Our part is to obey and abide, and He handles the rest with a benefit package that includes peace, freedom from fear, and the promise of eternal life. Our reluctance to come to God is always based on deception and a fear-tainted, foolish desire to cling to our own way rather than submitting to His.
Pray: Father, please forgive me for the sin of hiding from you when I’ve disobeyed. Teach me to instantly turn back the moment I know I’ve fallen away from obedience, so that turning to You becomes as instinctive as the instant recovery of a basketball player who is knocked off his or her feet in the midst of a game. Help me not to waste time bemoaning the fact that I’ve fallen. Help me to jump back up and return to abiding and obeying, that I may have peace and confidence in You come what may. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous
1 John 1:8-2:2