Life was good for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was a true paradise until Satan slithered into their lives. They went into hiding after they had offended their Creator. “Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you?” Its not like God didn’t know where they were, it was a preparation question by which God was about to reveal himself to them. Adam replied, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Adam and Eve then revealed the sin in their hearts by participating in a blame game.
Fear can be paralyzing. The sound of God’s movement in the garden was incapacitating. It was heart stopping. John Haggai said, “For many, fear has grown like a tree until it over shadows them from morning till night.” Fear is probably the most destructive force of mankind. Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the sin of pride and then the assaulted them with fear.
Fear is a leading health problem among Americans. Fear and depression are like destructive twin sisters. They can spawn ulcers, heart problems, liver and kidney disease in their wake. Fear and worry are probably responsible for more deaths than all the wars combined. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) If fear doesn’t come from God it must originate with Satan. Satan unleashes fear upon us and then he “prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) A.W. Tozer said, “Fear is of the flesh and panic is of the Devil.”
I am a Kentucky basketball fan and I recently enjoyed watching Kentucky plow to a national championship. I noticed their intensity increased dramatically as they neared the end of each game they played. I think Satan’s activity is increasing dramatically as the endgame draws near. “But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)
There are numerous verses in the Bible that admonish us to fear God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 11:10) There is not a single verse in the Bible that tells us to fear Satan. When we have a reverential respect for the all-powerful God, our fear of Satan is erased like black marks on a dry erase board.
Fear is indelibly woven into the fabric of our culture. We fear unemployment. We fear poverty. We fear an empty bank account. We fear foreclosure. Our anemic economy has generated a great fear that Medicare, Medicaid and our Social Security will one day be no longer available. This spirit of fear is an evil spirit, it hounds us and torments us and it is born in hell.
I was very discouraged when I looked at the bottom line on this year’s tax return. I owed the federal government a sizeable amount of money. I owe money to the mortgage company but it doesn’t give rise to any fear. I owe money to the dentist, I owe money to the Medical Center but these debts stir in me no fear. For some reason, owing money to the U.S. Government produced a dreadful fear in me. I began to imagine people pulling up in my driveway in black limousines, jumping out in Colombo style overcoats to serve me papers with Barack Obama’s name on them. I painted a house during Spring Break to pay off our taxes and I’m relieved to say, “I don’t owe the U.S. Government one red cent.”
Ten years ago my wife and I left public schools to work in private Christian schools. The move from public to private required we take a $20,000 to $30,000 combined pay cut. We had no idea how we would pay our bills but we both felt strongly that God was calling us to teach in Christian schools where we could openly, daily proclaim the name of Christ. I want to reveal, to the glory of God, that we have never missed a house payment, we have never missed a car payment and we’ve had more than enough food to eat since we decided to trust God for our needs.
If God is asking you to do something but you just can’t seem to crunch the numbers on it, don’t be smothered by a spirit of fear. I boldly and confidently write these words, “If you are doing the bidding of God who ‘owns the cattle on a thousand hills’, (Psalm 50:10) he will take care of you.”
Over a hundred years ago, while her husband was away for several weeks on a preaching assignment, Civilla Martin wrote these words:
All you may need he will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.
No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.
As a school teacher I really connected to a quote I read recently, “When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember, the teacher is always quiet during the test.”
We often become arrogant about the things we have accumulated over the years. We think we have earned those things. We have what we have because God gave those things to us. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” (James 1:17)
My brother, Dennis, has been a missionary to Japan for over thirty years. He and his wife are packing their belongings and preparing to return to the states as I write these words. They have experienced some severe health problems that forced them into early retirement from the mission field. God spoke to Dennis’ heart when he was but a teen-ager about dedicating his life to the Japanese people. Dennis obediently served God for all those years, depending on God and the goodwill of others to support his ministry.
I asked him the other day, “Dennis, what are you going to do now? Your retirement plan is not enough to sustain you. You are still buying a house. Your wife has a mountain of medical bills to pay. What are you going to do?” His reply went something like this, “Kevin, God has taken care of us for over thirty years. Do you think he will now forget about us now?”
Then I began to consider why my brother was called of God to the mission field and I was not. Perhaps it was because he was able to drown out his fears with faith in a trustworthy God. While I was fearfully quizzing my brother concerning his next move, he was resting on the promises of a loving God. There is no need to be fearful, was it not said of the Author of the Universe, the One who cannot lie or deceive, the One who has never broken a promise, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” ? (Philippians 4:9)
Photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC (Creative Commons)