The Bare Soul
July 11, 2010
Psalm 118:6 - The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
Fears and phobias seem to plague our modern day society as at no other time in history. A random sampling of what people are frightened of might catalog a variety of answers. One example, for instance, is that approximately 5.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54 ( about 3.7 percent), have what is called social phobia. Social phobia is defined as a persistent and irrational fear of situations that may involve scrutiny or judgment by others, such as parties and other social events. Many who believe that we are in the last days see this as symptomatic to the words of Jesus in the book of Luke: men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Luke 21:26). Fear is epidemic and our 24-hour news cycle seems to feed the anxiety. We watch the stock market crumble, and then are momentarily encouraged by an act of bravery on the same news outlet. While some may equate fearlessness with courage, they do so wrongly. Courage is not devoid of fear, but it has merely overcome the present terror temporarily in order to seize the moment and rise triumphant in a dire situation. Make Twain stated this in a more eloquent manner: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--- not absence of fear. Some would argue that fear is a God-given emotion and that it must be accepted for what it is. Others, including myself, would say that fear or reverential respect born out of relationship with God will dispel every other fear known to mankind. It is first understanding this awe-inspired revelation of the Most High and then allowing this power to destroy all ungodly fear created by the flesh and the devil.
In an obvious place of godly strength, the psalmist in our opening verse asks the rhetorical question: what can man do to me? To come to this position of fearlessness it is important to realize the pre-conditions in this short line of scripture that supports this place of spiritual prowess. The outcome of position all depends on one foundational truth -- God's promise! The writer of this Psalm first declares: The LORD is for me. This is not wishful thinking but a rock-solid conviction conceived in distress and born by the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17-19). This is a Godward vision! We find in the previous verse that the psalmist is at a critical point of "distress", where his convictions reveal his true character. Verse 5 states: From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place. From this point of helplessness, the Almighty is able to reveal Himself to this contrite penitent, allowing him to UNDERSTAND the promise of God which is simply ... God is on his side! To stand on a promise that is not born in humility and suffering is certainly more difficult for it lacks the power that only contriteness can deliver. However, when one has been lifted from the pit of despair by God's loving kindness, one knows that the Lord rejoices over His beloved (Zephaniah 3:17). Likewise, Jesus promised us in various scriptures that He would always be there for us, no matter the circumstances if we would but trust in Him (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:15).
While understanding God's intentions and desires in our lives is a great beginning, we will fall well short of His will unless we take the promises He gives and STAND on them. The psalmist knew by revelation that God was on his side, but now there was something he needed to do and that was stand resolutely against any fear or imagination that would attempt to rise up against the truth of God's promise (II Corinthians 10:5). By making the declaration, I will not fear, he was drawing a line in the sand. This is inward vision! How hard it is to merely name a promise in God's name and claim it if we don't believe He has truly done so for us. That is why it is paramount that the word of God -- the living, breathing word as spoken to our hearts (rhema in Greek) -- becomes real and alive within. Let me use two campsites for example where the weather is cold and blustery. At one, there are several people huddled around a circle of stones and confessing to one another (as they are shivering from the frigid temperatures) that the fire they are visualizing is keeping them warm, yet they have done nothing to change their present reality. Then, there is the other group who are warm, experiencing the heat of a roaring fire because they surrendered themselves to the work of gathering firewood that provided them their comfort. Oftentimes, many believers will try to set around their own dead campsites and see the glow of others at a distance and attempt to live vicariously through their experience. However, until they are obedient to the due diligence needed for their own "fire" in their walk with the Lord, they will continue to delude themselves.
Only as one has this inward understanding of who God is and His promises can one say with confidence: What can man do to me? This is outward vision as it relates to everything pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). With an outward vision that is born from both a Godward and inward position, one can truly concur with the psalmist and say that nothing can shake them from their unflinching faith. Like Paul, one might say: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35). Just like the psalmist, Paul's use of rhetorical questioning leads to only one true answer ... that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:37). All fear has been abolished through the understanding of who we are in the fear in the Lord. Through the purity of God's fear comes a life filled with love and contentment, a life not growing with inner fears and introspection, but a life that is lost in loving Him and others.
The solution to the fear epidemic in our world is really quite simple, but also difficult for most to comprehend. Only in losing one's life in humility will one find it. Only by telling God that we are truly terrified of life can He then give us the courage to walk hand in hand with Him. For most of us, it is a frightening idea to turn our lives over to another. However, if truly honest, we will declare that they we failed miserably at living a peaceful, joyous existence free of fear. God's remedy will always be surrender. Without it, there can be no godly understanding. And, without understanding there can be no true freedom. May God give us all hearts of courage that would fearlessly abandon ourselves to Him. Oh, the glory that awaits those who would but fear Him in reverential awe, laying all at His feet. May we all find the courage to do so!
Heavenly Father, help us to trust you as a loving Father, knowing that you will never desert us in our time of need. Give us fearlessness to surrender to you, enduing us with courage to live out Your life from within. Give us confidence to walk out this life in the fear of the Lord, never succumbing to the fears born of this world. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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