Thursday, October 27, 2005
Fear, Fight, Flee?
Lu tends to have good friends, and many of them are Bloggers. When I have time I follow the links from her Blog, and then explore the stories at the end of that trail. The other day I ran into Conna's Blog, with a little story about fearing God. That stopped me in my tracks, because, well, because it's one of the few things in this crazy, out-of-bounds experiment with God that I seem to know anything about. It's not just knowledge. I have the feel-how of fearing God, and yet approaching him.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10
I believe that now. There are real reasons to fear God: he could snuff me out with not even a gesture. If he forgets me for an instant I evaporate as if I'd never been at all. I am so depraved, so far from any real holiness, that the only barrier between God's justified wrath at my fallenness and his judgment is the robe that Jesus put over my shoulders. "He's mine." The wrath changes to sunshine and an outpouring of gifts.
Life is what he wants. Life is complex, hard to do. I've taken shortcuts and simplifications, as if I'm just riding the train to the end of tracks. I have no hand in the guidance, no dream of where I'm going. I'm scared of changing this.
Fearing God is also about fearing his power to change. He is fiercely dedicated to real life. He never stops making suggestions, offering guidance, illuminating the trouble spots that I'd rather leave in darkness. It has worked well enough until now, so just let it go. But that's not good enough for God.
I want to fight? Fine. God will get down on the ground and wrestle me to immobility. I want to run? He'll let me go until my feet are cut, my legs exhausted and my human brain whirling in fatigued tail-chasing. He waits. I turn around. Then he will open his arms and take me back. He loves honesty.
He never, ever, quits. That is truly frightening. Nothing, not even my attempts to limp away out of his sight, is enough to separate me from him. We are well and truly stuck with each other. It can go hard, or it can go... well, not easy, but at least with a measure of grace.
Fearing God makes a lot of sense, but it's a special kind of fear. I fear him, yet I call his name when I need help. I would never do that with a person because I know that when I ask for bread, the other person is likely to give me a rock. God will give me bread, but that very bread is made from his life, and imbued with his life. To eat it is dangerous! To be touched by God's hand is catastrophic. To have God clear the crud from my eyes so that I can see more clearly is to leave the illusions behind, and that, for a sensitive man, is just completely out of range.
I need illusion as a bat needs the dark, as a hermit crab needs his borrowed shell. Illusion is one thing God won't tolerate. It's an echo of Satan's promise to Eve. I fear God's power to shine his pure shadowless light through the murk of my soul.
He does so gently, but insistently. He will spend the time it takes for the pure truth to come out and become solid, strong enough to build a new life on. Fleeing is no longer an option because, cut off from God, there really isn't any hope for me. Life isn't much fun anyway but if I'm running from God it really turns grey. I fear what he could do with my helplessness because of what that state has led to in the past. People see a helpless one and think, while rubbing their hands together, "Fresh meat!" God thinks, and acts, "One who needs my special help."
He knows I need help. He started his plan long ago, and sacrificed his Son so that I could come to him in my quaking honesty and try to get things sorted out. Little by little we do it. Not that much of this shows. All I can really say is that I'm still here. This, for some reason, makes our fearsome God happy.