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Message of the Week: Real freedom
Several years ago, my youngest daughter and I decided to take a drive to the mountains. Following a quick visit to the lake, we ate lunch and headed home. As we headed down the winding mountain road, my daughter excitedly talked non-stop about school, friends, family and church. We were having a wonderful father/daughter afternoon. Shortly, that would come to an unexpected and sudden end.
In the middle of her conversation my daughter glanced over at me and started screaming at the top of her voice. In complete panic she unhooked her seatbelt and pushed back against her door as far away from me as possible. In her unbridled fear and absolute panic, the only word she could get out of her mouth was, "Spider!!!!"
As she continued screaming, she held her hands at least 6 inches apart, indicating the size of this hideous creature that was about to take her father's life.
My reaction was even worse. I locked up the brakes and headed for the side of the road. After skidding sideways through the dusty gravel, I exited my SUV before it came to a full stop. While jumping up and down, running in circles trying to locate this monster spider, my daughter made her way around our vehicle, still screaming now pointing to my neck. With tears of fear running down her face, she shrieked this insidious killer insect of enormous proportion was about ready to sink his fangs into my neck. She then shouted, "Dad, it crawled up on your hat." I quickly grabbed my hat throwing it to the ground stepping back readying myself to do battle.
Almost disappointed, I stood there for a moment seeing nothing. Then, a very small, almost cute, baby spider crawled from under my hat and started making his way to the brush on the side of the road. For a moment we both stared in unbelief at this little harmless creature. Then, at the same time we looked up at each other and broke into uncontrolled laughter.
That hot afternoon day, standing on the side of a busy road in Brownsville, we both learned a couple of important lessons. First, fear exaggerates reality and secondly, fear is the enemy of faith.
The story of Moses is recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. It is a story with many twists and turns. It is a story of conquest and defeat, success and failure, joy and sorrow, highs and lows, and fear and faith.
After their deliverance from Egypt, God's chosen people found themselves in Kadesh Barnea. Across the river lay the Promised Land. The home God promised them generations before was finally within their reach. The only thing that would keep God's people from taking possession of His promise was fear. Fear of the unknown. A fear that completely exaggerated and disregarded reality. This unbridled fear completely destroyed their faith in His promise. Fear caused them to turn away from God and aimlessly wander in the desert for four decades. It was not till the next generation; young men and women of faith would rise up and possess God's promise. Faith finally overcame fear. Sounds a lot like life today doesn't it?
We can see in this sad account how an exaggerated fear destroyed the faith of God's people. We can see how deceptive fear is. Fear seemed to be bigger than God's purposes, plans, and promises. When they lost sight of His promise, they lost faith. When faith was lost, so was their hope. When they lost hope, they lost their sense of direction. They wandered.
God wants to remind us today. Strong and focused faith always overcomes fear! Following are four things we must do to build and strengthen our faith.
First, we need to confront our fears honestly. Running will always exaggerate reality. After a major failure in life and leadership David pleaded, "Have mercy on me O Lord, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:3-4. David accepted full responsibility for his failure. He was honest with God and asked for mercy, love and compassion. God granted the aforementioned to David.
Secondly, when we give in to fear and turn from God, we need to recognize and confess it as sin. Again in Psalm 51, David cries out to God, "…I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you and only you have I sinned and done what was evil in your sight." David called it what it was and dealt with it. He didn't rationalize or dance around the issue. He made full confession to God and was completely forgiven.
Next, we must ask God for divine protection and direction. Later, Joshua would lead God's people into the Promised Land. God promised Joshua the following, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them." In Romans, Paul states, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" He goes on to say, "…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither than present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." In other words, faith overcomes fear! We win!
Last, we need to deepen, strengthen and grow our relationship with God. The result will be a deeper, stronger, more mature faith in God, His promises and His Word. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God spoke, "You will call to me and come to me and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord and bring you back from your captivity."
I heard it said in 1 John 4:18 "…perfect love drives out all fear." I have also heard it said, "There is no reason but fear itself to keep us in fear."
May we live free from fear and live lives of faith and freedom!