"And Moses said unto the people, 'Fear ye not….'"
Exodus 14: 13
King James Version
"Fear Ye Not"
"Fear is born in uncertainty and nourished by pessimism."
What makes me afraid?
Have I given all my fears to God?
"What makes us so afraid is the thing we half see, or half hear, as in the woods at dusk, when a tree stump becomes an animal and a sound becomes a siren. And most of that fear is the fear of not knowing, of not actually seeing correctly."
"Fear is never a good counselor."
I want to paint this scene for you, exactly as the Bible tells the story.
God, by a pillar of light and fire, led His children out from under the tyrannical bondage of Pharaoh. And it was God who called Moses to be the leader for this group of wanderers.
Make no mistake, God was in charge and the children of Israel knew this to be the truth. After a spectacular display of God's power during the plagues in Egypt, you would think the Israelites would have had a steady, deep and abiding confidence in Jehovah.
However, after a few days in the desert, this is what the disgruntled multitude had to say, and I'm quoting the Bible:
1. "Because there were no graves in Egypt, we're going to die in the wilderness."
2. "Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians."
3. "It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians, that we should die in the wilderness."
Exodus 14: 12
In 2008 language, it is as though Dorothy was saying, "Take me back to the lake where I sat lonely and confused. Oh, and while you are at it, put me in chains and let me die." Not a pretty picture! You may be wondering, "Who in their right mind would want to go back to Egypt to feel a task master's whip across their back day after day?"
But isn't this the way you and I often operate? Instead of stepping forward into the unknown, a place where God is leading, we fall back in fear and say to God, "I'd rather live under Pharaoh's rulership than Yours."
In his book, The Threat of Life: Sermons of Pain, Power, and Weakness, theologian Walter Brueggemann writes these thought-provoking words:
"When we live according to our fears and our hates, our lives become small and defensive, lacking the deep, joyous generosity of God. If you find some part of your life where your daily round has grown thin and controlling and resentful, life with God is much, much larger, shattering our little categories of control, permitting us to say that God's purposes led us well beyond ourselves to live and to forgive, to create life we would not have imagined."
The Psalmist David throughout his life repeatedly wrote about the God he came to know – a God of strength but also a God who takes away our fear. Psalm 46: 1,2, says: "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and mountains fall into the sea."
Shuddering, in the face of Pharaoh's army and the Red Sea which appeared to be uncrossable, the children of Israel hollered and cried, "Take us back to Egypt," but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob told Moses, "Tell my children, 'Fear not!'"
At this point in time, God could have said, "I've had enough! Stop your whining. While you are at it – go right back to Egypt. I've had enough of you and your ungratefulness." But that's not what our God of love did. Instead He sent this message to His trembling children, "Fear not!" It is the same message our Father sends to you and me today, "Fear not!"
Author Ann Lewin, in Flashes of Brightness, describes the God-like view of things that lift us above our usual limitations. "Rise, then and know the glory of life set free from fear."
"O Lord, we beseech Thee to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; and from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by Thy grace to love and fear Thee only, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in Thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ."
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Even if an army encamp against me, I shall not be afraid;
And if war should rise against me, yet will I trust.
One thing I have asked of the Lord, which I will seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble,
And set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 27: 1, 3-5
"Lord of life
Why do I anticipate the worst
When time and time again
The worst never happens?
Even when it does, life goes on
And every day comes to an end.
Lord help me to overcome my fears
In this brief moment of reflection.
Calm my mind
Help me to relax
Let your comforting Spirit
Enter into me
And fill me with peace."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus