Author: Chris Taylor

Speak Up

It is always hard to see those you care about suffer. We sometimes make mistakes that lead us down a path to a place we couldn’t have imagined before. Our intentions may have started out in the right place but we suddenly find ourselves in a mess of our own creation. Many of us have witnessed loved ones wander down a road driven by poor choice upon poor choice. Despite the best efforts and wisdom of others, arrogance and pride keep us on this path for extended periods of time. At the time, we can easily deceive ourselves into believing what we are doing will have a desired outcome. We rely too heavily on the freedoms that we have been given and fail to seek discipline in our living. Quite simply, we fall into sin. But we do not have to stay in sin. We believe in the God of redemption. The Lord who saves. And with the help of other brothers and sisters we can live with God beyond the poor choices we make.

When my wife and I first came to know Christ it was a time of many questions. Our relationship with the Lord quickly developed into a very disciplined, verging on legalistic, encounter. Our lives tended to center around what we shouldn’t be doing and what we should stay away from. While this was a time of wonderful spiritual growth as we learned more about God’s grace, I do wonder how common this type of story is with new Christians.

Over the years as our relationship grew fuller and deeper with God we found the freedom to revisit aspects of our lives that at the beginning of our relationship with Christ, we had walked away from. God had strengthened us in unimaginable ways. Friendships that had become hostile or forgotten were  rekindled full of grace. Hobbies and activities that had lost any value were enjoyable once more. We were able to experience the freedom given only by Christ. But, there have been many times since then that when we were not careful, we abused the freedom God has shown us by lacking in discipline. This is where the Corinthian church found itself at the time of Paul’s first letter.

The Corinthian church suffered from sin from within because of a misunderstanding of the freedom given by God. They possibly believed that they were free of moral constraints because of God’s grace. Paul chastises them because of their seemingly willingness to accept the sins of those within the church that even outsiders would look down upon. Paul calls them to discipline because God has set boundaries to protect them, to set them apart.

This is where we can find things in our own dealings with sin. It can be easy to fall into the thinking that the grace and freedom God has provided us allows all things. We may walk right up to the line of what we know is sin, lingering in that space for a time, but do we have the discipline in our lives to lead us back. Is our foundation firmly planted on God and his protection? While it is sometimes hard to notice when we are taking liberties with the freedom in our lives, it can be easy to overlook when our brothers and sisters are taking liberties too. Most relationships have some level of messiness in them, but do we truly care enough about each other to call each other out from time to time. It is so much easier to ignore the problems and missteps of others, as well as those of ourselves, and simply keep trudging along. But that is not what God has called us to. We are to hold each other accountable in our relationship with God and his church.

God has set us apart as his church. He has given us wonderful freedom, but he also has called us to discipline. Should we fall into sin, I pray that we would love one another enough to speak up.

 

 

Faith of the Young

I envision a crisp day, similar to the 39 that had come before it. A day that was ripe with repetition. A day that impressed on all who lived through it a sense of impending doom. A time when men lived in fear of a giant spewing forth taunts, who imposed his will with brute force and fear. But I can also envision a very young man, who has firmly placed his life in the hands of his God. A young man who was very aware of the blessings he had received. A young man who chose to fight against the seemingly impossible, because of his faith.

The story of David and Goliath is one that is probably familiar with most people in America today, regardless of background. We are drawn to the tale of the underdog  time and time again. It is seemingly weaved into our DNA. But what I think is often missed within the essence of the story is that David’s faith is what wins the day. His trust in God sustains him. There are no attributes, with the exception of his faith, that would see him live through this ordeal. This is not so much an underdog story, as it is a suicide mission. So why are we, as a people, so drawn to it?

I remember as a child hearing the story of David and Goliath on a fairly regular basis. It was always told in such a way that it was easy to mistake David’s faith for bravery. In the land of individualism a man could always succeed if he was at least brave. The idea that the young man’s actions were centered  in his trust in God came much later in life. To be honest, I think that is how we see things most of the time. We admire character and integrity, bravery and wisdom in others or ourselves, often forgetting to attribute these blessings to God.

It has always struck me in this story that David chose not to wear the armor of the king. It didn’t fit. It was not his wear. So he moved forward as God had prepared him. He did not try to be something he was not, but instead trusted that God would protect him as he was.  I believe we often try on different armors to present ourselves to the world. These armors often don’t fit, but when we shed them, give thanks to God for making us as he has, entrust our lives with him, and move forward to bless those around us, we thrive. We seek to live as God has always intended for us to live.

It is at this moment in David’s story that we marvel at his faith. We pray that we would have a faith like his that would allow us to conquer fear and bless others in the name of God. But his story doesn’t end here. In fact it is just the beginning. God continues to bless David throughout his life. David sins but he repents and returns to God. It is in his repentance that we see just how deeply his life is intertwined with God. And we marvel still.

I struggle sometimes teaching my daughter about these topics. Pride makes it very easy to take credit for work ethic rather than explaining the why of blessing. In trying to explain these sometimes extremely complicated ideas to a six-year-old I always fall back on the truth that everything we are blessed with is from God. He has blessed us with these things to in turn be a blessing to others. We entrust God with our life because he has given us life in Jesus. She often reminds me that she knows these things with her words and actions, while it is I who tends to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance in the Whole

At the dawn of a new year one has a tendency to make resolutions and set goals. These resolutions or goals seem to always focus on an aspect of our life that we felt like we were lacking in during the previous year. We may place a spotlight on one part of our lives with the hope that one thing will bring about the enrichment of our lives as a whole. This is not a bad thing. Often a goal in one branch of our life does bring growth in others, but it can also leave us shortsighted and un-balanced. It can be like a body-builder who only trains their upper body. In the end you get the massive arms with chicken legs. I believe when we strive for balance in all aspects of our lives we truly begin to see amazing results. This is especially true in our relationship with God and his church. We each have a unique gifting but when we focus solely on that we cease to grow in other areas. We lose sight of God’s entire perfect vision for his church and we break it down into smaller departments and pieces. We can miss the forest for the trees.

In the very early stages of my coming to know Christ it became very easy to inadvertently define the process by focusing on certain things that I needed to do in order to become a good follower. I needed to pray more, stop doing certain things, read my bible as much as I could. And while these are good things on the surface they missed the true meaning of knowing Jesus. The why aspect was very vaguely understood but never completely grasped. These are the things that a Christian does so this is what I must do to know God. A Christian spends time in prayer and reads their bible. They help others and tell them about Jesus. Some day they eventually go on a mission trip. Looking back, it was a very compartmental, extremely basic surface level understanding of what a Christian is. Later thanks to the grace of God I gave myself to Christ and the faint surface level understanding began to fade away. This new living relationship put the pieces together. All of these conditions were pieces of the whole. The understanding came from knowing that I was loved so much by God that he gave his only son. That I could walk with God because I had been reconciled through Jesus. That missions, prayer and bible study weren’t simply departments within the church but an all-encompassing relationship with our creator.

Paul speaks of this exact reconciliation in 2 Corinthians  5:17-19.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has passed away; behold the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave

us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ 

God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses

against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

The message, vision and hope of the church is within these lines. God the father has propitiated us through Christ. Our relationship with Christ is a blessing of reconciliation that becomes our mission to the world. It is our way of life. The small pieces of the whole come together and begin to fit together supporting each other. We no longer simply look at different aspects of our relationship with Christ we see the relationship as a whole.

This follows in our church life as well. We no longer only focus on the separate aspects of the church but we see it as a whole. Each piece fitting together supporting each other to reflect God’s message of reconciliation to the world. We find our balance not in looking at the pieces, but in looking at the whole.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

As we enter the Christmas season I always seem to enter a more reflective state of mind. It is common to look back at the year that was and wonder, have I lived a life centered around God? Have I served those around me well, but better yet have I served Jesus well? More often than not, for me the false steps seem to stick out. Failures may float to the forefront of our thought but we are also given glimpses of the times when Christ was most brightly reflected in us. We are energized by the times when Christ seems the most alive in our lives and reminded of his goodness and grace. We are encouraged to go deeper seeking more of God in every way. Rather than growing discouraged in our mistakes we are able to turn to His word and see the promise fulfilled time and time again amongst his people. We are awakened once again to a season of hope and promise, buttressed by a history in scripture that speaks to truth, and we begin to prepare for the coming King.

If left unchecked, I can tend to be a little short-sighted in my thinking from time to time. Forgetting the outcome of a situation in the fairly recent past often hampers trust and a willingness to move forward if we are not careful. It is when we stop and think to the ways that God has answered prayer in our lives that our resolve is strengthened. But we also see God’s promises kept and answers to prayer throughout the entirety of scripture. The countless stories and prophesies that came to pass help to grow our faith. These prophesies and the love letter that is the Bible as a whole help to grow our faith in the one who created them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the many prophesies that speak of the coming Christ in the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah Chapter 40 we see words that serve as a distant precursor for the words used by John the Baptist. “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3   John knew what he was saying. Every time I read these words I am reminded of God’s promise to provide a way back to him. I am reminded to always be prepared for what he would have me do. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by calling for repentance and baptism of the Jewish people. The prophets of the old testament repeatedly spoke of what was to come to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. So how do we prepare the way for Christ’s return? As we celebrate his birth, we focus on just what his birth, life, death and resurrection mean. The hope that it brings for all mankind. We share this hope with others. We serve as he served. We forgive as he forgave. We try to love others as he has loved us. We attempt in many small ways to bring just a small fraction of the joy Jesus has brought into our lives. We run to him and prepare our hearts for his birth.

My favorite time of day is when I return home from work on day shift. Most days, as soon as I open the door leading from our garage I hear the word “daddy” shouted that signals that a very lanky little girl has already begun to leap towards me so I have less than a second to get my arms out to catch her. This is followed by a waddling little man with outstretched arms and a big toothy grin. That is how I want to always respond to Christ. I want to always be ready for him at any moment.  I want to always be prepared.

 

 

 

 

The Kingdom

There are times in life where it is easy to become scared. We fret over a current situation or aspect of our lives. And then, in a blink of an eye that situation passes. We wonder why we may have been so scared to begin with. We are able to take a deep breath and reflect, and we understand that God has led us through once again. We realize that when our eyes and hearts are focused on God, that these seemingly huge events that are outside of our control truly are. He lovingly lifts our faces toward him and we are reminded that we do not belong to this world. We belong to him. We are given a glimpse of his eternal glory and unending kingdom. We understand that we are a part of this kingdom that is, and was, and always will be. And in light of this we live our lives in obedience to the one who has brought us out of the dark and into the light. This shapes how we live each day and nothing can take that away from us.

The weeds seem exceedingly high this year. It is very easy for us to get lost in them. With the constant barrage of information from every angle twenty-four hours a day it takes a huge amount of work and diligence to find the truth in any topic. Most of what we come across is mostly thinly veiled opinion with very little fact behind it. If we are not careful these opinions can shape how we view a certain subject or even more how we view the world. We lose sight of who and what shapes how we should view the world. We can lose sight of who provides our every need as a loving father. We become jaded by current circumstances and events that, don’t get me wrong, have far-reaching consequences, but pale in comparison to the eternal kingdom we belong to. This is not to say that these decisions and events don’t matter. They matter very much so. But as long as we are living our lives in light of the gospel, loved by God, allowing his word and worldview to shape us on a daily basis we need not fear. We need not be swayed by the opinions of others because we are in tune with the one opinion that matters most.

The Psalms remind us of the kingdom we belong to. “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” Psalm 145:13   When we grasp this and hold onto it we realize that there have been countless turbulent times throughout history but God’s kingdom has always stood. We are comforted in knowing that we are not the only ones to experience darkness but that God’s kingdom has always prevailed.

We see once again in the very words of Jesus where our worldview stands. “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” John 18:36  

So this raises a question. What should we strive to fight for in light of the kingdom we belong to? I like to think that we aim to live each day sharing the grace that has been given to us. We show Jesus to those around us with our actions in our communities, schools and places of work. We become the light that God has asked us to be, not reveling in judgement but pointing to the grace we have received. We fight to become the Church that God longs for us to be, so overflowing with him that others are drawn to him. We continue to live our lives in view of the kingdom we serve hoping to share that with others. When we make the effort to give a glimpse of God’s everlasting kingdom to others the current darkness fades and hope abounds. We know who we belong to and where we stand.

 

Great is Thy Faithfulness

In today’s world faithfulness is often tied to loyalty and trust. We see many examples of this in stories of a husband or wife who sticks it out through thick and thin, or an employee who does his or her job diligently over a lifetime. But I think these stories, while true, only skim the surface of what faithfulness truly is. It is more deeply tied to devotion. It is a profound sense of knowing and trusting in another. Faithfulness is rooted in a shared past that continually points to the truth. It builds upon itself as time and time again the relationship grows. When we walk faithfully with God on mission we see his promises repeatedly ring true.

At home the topic of faithfulness comes up quite often. My daughter likes to ask for promises because she has figured out that a “maybe” usually means “no”. My wife and I hold each other accountable to the promises made but once in a blue moon we are unable to keep a promise.  This always saddens me but the hard truth is that I will fail my children at some point. I will fail my wife at some point. But it also opens the door to help us teach our daughter about the unfailing promises of God. We are able to look to his word and the instances in our lives where God has kept his promises and remind ourselves and teach our daughter of his goodness and faithfulness. It is also a chance to teach about our faithfulness to God. When we realize how God has blessed us in so many ways we need to focus on being faithful to what he has asked of us.

The faithfulness that Jesus showed to God the Father is unparalleled. Everything that the Father set out for him was accomplished in his lifetime. While modeled perfectly by Jesus, we can fall short because of any number of reasons. We are fearful of what might happen if we are faithful to God’s mission. We can be driven to distraction by pursuits that seem extremely important at the time but have no bearing on the future. We see an example of fear in the parable of the ten minas. A ruler leaves to accept a kingdom and leaves one mina with three different servants. Upon his return one servant has prospered and produced 10 minas from the one. Another has produced 5. But the third one did nothing with his. He simply hid it until his master returned. It works the same way with us. God has given us a purpose and mission. How often do we simply settle for doing the bare minimum with what we have when we have been so greatly blessed?

We see the culmination of Christ’s faithfulness to the Father’s purpose in his prayer to the Father in John 17.

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son

may glorify you, since you have given him authority over 

all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, 

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that 

you gave me to do. ”  John 17: 1-4

This is the faithfulness that is derived from the Holy Spirit. Are we faithfully seeking to accomplish what God would have for us? Are we serving with a deep sense of God’s purpose for us? Are we seeking to reciprocate the faithfulness of God ?

We often attribute faithfulness to a statement. We have faith in God. We have faith in others. But we must always remember that our faith is also in God’s purpose and mission for us. We live out our faith through our actions. Christ was faithful to the work the Father gave him. We should joyfully strive for the same thing.

 

Joy Eternal

We find happiness in many different things. We can find it in the larger aspects of life ranging from time with family or loved ones, to even work and leisure activities. We may find happiness in the smaller things of day-to-day life, such as a good cup of coffee, or our favorite meal. But the problem with happiness is that it always seems to fade. Sometimes things that once brought us happiness no longer seem to even interest us. We can become bored or even indifferent to something that once made us happy. Happiness is very fluid. And this is one of the main differences between happiness and joy in life. Where as happiness can be manipulated be mood and feelings, joy is much more deeply rooted. Joy comes from an eternal place as a gift from God. We are able to experience joy in the most dire of circumstances. Joy, unlike happiness, cannot be taken away from us because it rests on the truth that we belong to the loving God of all creation.

When the topic of happiness is discussed at our house, it seems to always be tied to the feelings or emotions of the moment. I am enjoying seeing my daughter grow from a preschooler to a kindergartener but there are so many challenges. At times she can be very emotional and sensitive which is something I have had to adapt to. I grew up with a brother and even in my adult working life I have primarily been surrounded by other males, so this is all new to me. Often her happiness depends on what activity she is doing at the moment. But when we speak of joy it is always much more concrete, much more fact. She can find joy in knowing that her mom and dad will always love her. She can find joy in knowing that she is known and loved by God. These are truths that don’t change throughout the day no matter what her mood or actions. When I remind her of this I am usually also reminding myself.

We are blessed with a very clear picture of the joy we receive from God in the story of Jesus sending out the seventy-two disciples in Luke chapter 10. The disciples were sent to the towns ahead of Christ to preach the good news. What intrigues me about the beginning of the story is Christ’s orders to the seventy-two. They were to simply go without taking supplies or worrying about their own needs for the journey, God would supply their needs. I imagine it would have been very easy to complain. This would be very hard for those of us who like to plan out the smallest details of even a short trip. But they trusted God and he provided.

Later, when they returned from their journey we are told in Luke 10:17, “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”. We begin to see what joy is to followers of Christ. But this is only a part of the joy provided by God.  Jesus rebukes them in verse 20.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this,

that the spirits are subject to you, but

rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

Our true joy is found in being known by God and living in union on mission with him. This is the joy that cannot be taken away from us. This is joy that is not affected by mood or circumstances. This is joy eternal. 

The story also does not mention that the seventy-two complained. Complaining is one thing that halts the joy we receive from being known by God. When we complain we always take the focus off God and put it on ourselves. Complaining is consistently focused on current circumstances. It is taking the “here and now” approach rather than the long view.  When we focus on God and the eternal we have a much harder time complaining. It is a very hard thing to do, but when we commit to not complaining our joy will increase.

One more view of the eternal joy that we are provided by God lies in the joy Christ has. In Hebrews 12:2 it states:

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy set before him endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

I pray that as we continue in the study of the “fruits of the spirit” that we would experience this joy. That we would seek it knowing its true value. That we would focus on the eternal rather than current circumstances. Rejoice in knowing that you are known and loved by God.

 

 

To be Heard

The sounds my 10 month old son makes are some of my favorite sounds in all the world. His jabbering will some day change into actual words, but for now I am happy to sit and listen and watch. He can tell me so much with his facial expression, but even more so with his eyes. While to me his grunts and repeated sounds can seem cute or funny, I am often reminded that he is taking part in a very deep need for all people. The need to be heard. The need to be known. I hope that he will always want to talk to me throughout all of the challenges that life will throw at him. I hope that he will have a confidence that when he speaks to me I will listen, always seeking to be present with him. It amazes me time and again that we have this same ability, an even stronger relationship with the father in the gift of prayer. We can have confidence that we are heard and known by our loving God who is always present. We simply need to speak.

It seems like a common lament of many Christians can be a lack of prayer life. I often find myself lacking in this at times when the busyness of everyday life seems to take control. You find yourself tired and seeking just a moment to unwind. Sure the dinner and bedtime prayers still happen but the true time spent just being in the presence of God is missed. It can develop into a routine and then we wonder why God may feel distant or we may feel alone. We are not hearing from or being heard by the one who matters most. We see others who seem to have a vibrant prayer life and are thriving in their relationship with the Lord, and we wonder why we don’t have that, when in fact the Father is right there waiting to speak and listen. We know this because we have the example of Jesus and the countless brothers and sisters who have walked with God before us. We can walk with God in this confidence thanking him for hearing us.

In the scriptures, we see Jesus repeatedly make time for prayer. In fact it is with prayer that he approached every facet of his life. He lived and breathed the amazing gift of prayer with the father. Our deep need for prayer should mirror the son. If Christ needed the presence of the father this much, how much more so with us! Christ’s confidence that the father hears our prayers should strengthen our own. We can approach the creator of all things in prayer as Christ did calling him father and be assured that he is listening, that he is present. In the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest, torture and eventual crucifixion, Christ prayed to the Father in this way.

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.

Remove this cup from me.

Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36

In this beautiful moment, we are given  example of how we should approach prayer. We are seeking our father. We are seeking his ear, his presence, and we have the assurance that he is listening. In the recounting of the raising of Lazarus in John, Jesus once again seeks the Father and cements the confidence that we should have when seeking God in prayer.

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you 

always hear me, but I said this on account of the people

standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41-42

God always hears us. When we seek him we are heard and known. We seek him as father. When we look at prayer this way the vibrant prayer life we seek becomes more like something we absolutely need. It becomes almost like the air we breath, and we thank God for it.

As my son grows older I look forward to the many conversations and “talks” we will have. I will always try to be there to listen and simply be with him, but sometimes I will fail. I will understand him as much as one human can, but it will always pale in comparison to how God understands him. I look forward to teaching him about prayer, and the one who knows him best, who hears him perfectly. And to this I say to God, thank you for hearing me.

 

Gifts From a Father

A little over five years ago I became a dad for the first time. Last September it happened again. I can tell you with every confidence that I would not trade one minute of that time for anything in the world. Being a father is one of the greatest joys in my life. It is a life that should kill our tendencies toward selfishness. It is one where we will learn to live a sacrificial life for our children. Being a father can be extremely hard in many different ways but it is always worth it. God has given us many examples of fathers throughout the Bible, but none are greater than that of himself.

Lately I have been reflecting on my relationship with my own dad. He recently became very sick and spent a month in the hospital. At times it did not seem like he was going to pull through, but he is now at home and his health is improving every day. It was a scary time for our family. My dad has been relatively healthy for most of his life, so this was the first major health scare. I noticed that I began to reflect more and more about childhood conversations, trips and time spent with my dad. Some good moments and some bad moments but throughout it all I always knew that he loved me deeply. It is a love that I hope my children feel every day of their lives.

As fathers, we try to envision the type of dad we will be. We plan out how certain life events might happen, but it doesn’t always turn out as planned. We make mistakes. We have many examples of mistakes fathers make in the stories we read, as well as in the bible. But in light of the mistakes we know we will make, we can give our children a wonderful picture of humility and grace. Through our imperfections we can continually point our children to the perfect God. 

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to live a life devoted to God. To show them a faith that is infused in every aspect of our lives. A faith that is not just on view on Sunday morning but lives and breathes in everything we do. This is a first step in teaching them about the Father. The saying is true that our actions often speak louder than our words. If our faith is alive our children can’t help but notice.

Living a life of humility is another gift to our children. Always having to be right can be a trait that is passed on, but admitting when we are wrong and asking for forgiveness can also be passed on. I struggled for years with always having to be right. I would argue almost any point to try to prove myself. But when God saved me that began to change. I cannot describe the reaction of my daughter when she first saw me come to my wife and say, “I was wrong, please forgive me.” It was an amazing pride breaking moment that has happened many times, but I know the effect it has had on my daughter.

Encouragement is yet another gift we can give our children. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians about a father’s encouragement,

“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each 

one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner

worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thes 2:11-12

Encouragement builds a child’s confidence in amazing ways. Just acknowledging when a child does something well helps them find their God-given strengths. With encouragement we are able to help shape the paths that our children take.

These are just a very few of the gifts we can give our children. On Father’s Day as we reflect back on our relationships with our own fathers, I hope we take some time to reflect on how we are fathering our own children. Are they growing in faith, humility, and grace? Is their relationship with God alive and thriving? Are they encouraged in Godly pursuits? Last but not least, do they feel a deep love from their earthly father? Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Fear and Worrying in the World

I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems like the list of things to fear in the world is growing exponentially. Fear finds its way into our lives and brings its cohort worry. These two emotions can take control of our lives and influence every decision we make, big and small. If we let them they can affect every aspect of our lives. What was once healthy to eat now causes sickness. If I buy this product or that product it may prevent disease. If this candidate or that candidate gets elected all hope is lost. Most of the time our fear and worry come from a place of loss of stability. We all experience it, so how do we get past living our lives in fear? The start of getting past our fears is coming to the realization that God is in complete control of his creation.

There is a type of healthy fear. It is a fear that can better be described as the idea of standing in complete and utter awe of God in all his glory. Psalm 110:10 states that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding . His praise endures forever!”  This is not the type of fear we are speaking of. We are talking about the type of fear that paralyzes us in our daily lives. The fear that disables us and keeps us from living the lives God has for us. We begin to kill unhealthy fear when it sinks in that God is in control of his creation. That we are all inhabitants of this creation. That nothing surprises him. That he is eternal. These seem like very basic truths, but I know I need to be reminded of them often.

Jeremiah 27:5 speaks of God’s creation and his interaction with it.

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm

have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth,

and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.”

Within this passage we see God’s statement of control over his creation. He places rulers in power using his perfect wisdom. The power and influence of any person is given by the sovereign creator. This point is exemplified in 1 Samuel 2:6-8 in Hannah’s prayer.

“The Lord kills and brings to life;

he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

The Lord makes poor and makes rich;

he brings low and he exalts.

He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap

to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. 

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s and on them he set the world.”

Once again we are reminded that creation is a work of God and it is He that brings blessing. We see that leaders are raised to power and relieved and brought low by God alone. It is in this knowing that fear of rulers and leaders is rightfully dwarfed by the God of all creation.

During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the king had a vision of these truths. In Daniel 4:17 the prophet writes, “…to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.”  The king was given a glimpse and reminder of where his power and rank came from. As God reminds kings we would be wise not to forget.

It is in these passages that we may find comfort in our current life situation whether we view it as good or bad.  Every fear that we have tied to the society we live in is only finite. If fear arises because of a leader we disagree with or a situation we feel hopeless in, we can find solace in knowing that God is in control of his creation. That this situation will pass but the God who has always been will continue to be forever. That the creator of all things is lovingly exalting and lowering leaders for his purposes, even if we do not understand why. We can live without fear knowing that God is on his throne and in control.