No Fear

What is your greatest fear? People often dwell on this question to get at the heart of a problem in their lives to seek to tackle emotional or psychological problems. Is it really helpful to dwell on this?

Can our desire to get to the heart of a problem or issue – to seek to know and understand the causes of anxiety – actually precipitate further anxiety and an unhealthy obsession with the failings of ourselves or others?

A particularly sensitive issue in many people’s minds is how they are perceived by others. This constant desire to please others in order to be well-regarded and have a good reputation can become self-obsession. While this could be presented as putting others first, ie. having a great concern for another’s point of view – it can actually evolve into an unhealthy narcissism. The reflection of ourselves in others eyes becomes more important than what is actually lying under the surface.

Why should we fear man, or fear what others might think of us? I’m not suggesting that we become a brazen and uncompromising personality who has no regard for the feelings of others, instead realise that seeking to please man is a fruitless and meaningless endeavour. Why would we fear man, whose opinions and judgements of others are formed often without knowing the person, sometimes without even meeting them? Whereas God sees and knows all, He looks deep into our hearts and can see into our thoughts and predict our actions even before we consider them – yet he judges us with mercy and compassion and forgives us for all our wrongdoing when we turn to Him in faith.

Fear God, for He is righteous in all His ways, he judges justly with mercy and compassion and loves each person equally, regardless of our fears or failings. When we fear only God, he gives us the courage and ability to live for the glory of God.

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’ (Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

‘I will proclaim the name of the Lord.

Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,

and all his ways are just.

A faithful God who does no wrong,

upright and just is he.’ (Deuteronomy 32:3-4)

plan

(Picture: www.shoutitforlife.com)

 

Phobia image: (The Confidence Alchemist)

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Come What May

Moulin Rouge has all the components of a tragic love story and has captivated people’s hearts – although not exactly for family viewing, it has wonderful imagery and music. The well-known song ‘Come What May’ sung between Satine, the highly-prized escort and Christian, the poor and humble writer, is meant to epitomise the meaning of true love.

This story is a classic – not just a 20th Century classic, but an ancient love story.

Elements of the Moulin Rouge story are also replicated in the passionate and intimate details in the book of Hosea, a man marries a woman who turns to prostitution, then saves her from that life, only to watch her reject him time and again to return to her former life. He does not give up on her and continues to love her and go after her, come what may.

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…” (Hosea 3:1)

This classic story is also replicated on a grand scale with the valiant rescue of the unfaithful nation in bondage, slaves to sin and suffering sickness. The book of Isaiah in the bible speaks of a nation like a prostitute, raped and pillaged by foreigners without hope for a future.1

It foretells of a future when a humble Christian would offer his undying love for ‘her’ and promises to save her from bondage, sin and suffering. The nation of Israel, under the spell of Satan and all the alluring temptations of life without God, painfully awaits the arrival of their Saviour who will cover over their shame and heal their sickness.

God’s gift to man in Creation was a woman, in fact the only thing in creation that was not ‘good’ was the fact that man was alone. When God united man with a suitable helper, the creation of the world was complete and ‘it was good’ indeed! Perhaps the reason why God spoke these provocative stories through his prophets for us to read today in the bible, was to put this human union in its rightful place – that is, earthly relationships as subordinate to, yet perfected in our relationship with our Creator God.

‘In the (Old Testament), Yahweh regularly explains Himself by using imagery familiar to the time. Sometimes Yahweh even uses images associated with other gods to emphasize that He – and not the gods of other nations – has authority over the earth. This poetic exchange would have served as an inter-cultural exchange between the Israelites and their neighbours.’2

This borrowed imagery from stories like Moulin Rouge and Les Miserables serve as an inter-cultural message to us today.

In ancient days, the ‘gods of fertility’ and the practice of sexualized rites of passage by foreign nations who worshipped idols were so common-place, I wonder whether this is why prostitution is the oldest occupation. Humans have forever turned away from God to worship other idols – physical intimacy, a gift from God created to be ‘good’, is an insurmountable idol that puts a barrier between us and our relationship with God today in our world.

“All her idols will be broken to pieces;
    all her temple gifts will be burned with fire;
    I will destroy all her images.
Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes,
    as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used.” (Micah 1:7)

In the book of Song of Songs, the detail in the story would make anyone blush; it seems unreal that the story could possibly be related both to a courting or married couple and also to God’s relationship with his people. It paints a picture of intimacy between a couple completely in love with one another, intent on keeping the vow to love one another come what may. But when human relationships become broken in their lifetime, the lofty aim to love one another until our dying day falls short of the mark – the first Christian, Jesus Christ, is not only able to save and restore and heal, but has loved us to His death. Marriage vows are made ‘until death do us part’, but the Saviour of our soul loves us not just until our death, but until the end of time. His marriage gift is eternal life for those who seek Him and remain faithful to Him.

For the man or woman trapped in the life of slavery to sin and sickness and suffering, God sets you free through the coming of Christ. Even when they return to her former life of sin, God provides a way out that is not dependent upon physical circumstances, but depends on the condition of the heart. When we seek God, the lover of our souls, we are able to see and know His intimate presence daily in our lives. When we are dependent upon his saving grace, we can truly know the peace of God in our lives. Those who aren’t romantically inclined would chuff at the lyrics to songs like ‘Come What May’. But being in love isn’t that far off the experience of someone who has turned to Christ and accepted Him as their Saviour, waking up each day with a new realization of an intimate presence in your life. Turn to Christ and live. Speak to God as your lover and Saviour and acknowledge his power and presence in every aspect of your life.

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I have never seen the sky before
I want to vanish inside your kiss
Every day I love you more and more
Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change, winter to spring
But I love you until the end of time

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day

Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn’t seem such a waste

It all revolves around you
And there’s no mountain too high
No river too wide
Sing out this song and I’ll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather
And stars may collide
But I love you until the end of time

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day

‘Come What May’ by David Baerwald & Kevin Gilbert

1. ‘Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotion’ by John D. Barry and Rebecca Van Noord. Lexham Press. 2014.

2.  Isaiah 54:4-10

“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
    Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
    and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
 For your Maker is your husband—
    the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
    he is called the God of all the earth.
 The Lord will call you back
    as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
    only to be rejected,” says your God.
 “For a brief moment I abandoned you,
    but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
  In a surge of anger
    I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
    I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord your Redeemer.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,
    when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
    never to rebuke you again.
 Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

 

[Click here for more from Isaiah]