You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ – Lamentations 3:57
When Jesus saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning. – Mark 6:48
The pastor at the church we attended while visiting our family in Germany made a very insightful point. He said, “The issue with most people is not one of belief in God. It is an issue of submission to God’s authority.” I believe he is correct. But what appears as willfulness and a stubborn refusal to repent is actually fear at its core. Fear can be a very inscrutable thing.
When people refuse to believe, or who make their belief in God something that is far off and not touching their everyday life, it is in the end a fear of losing control over their own destiny. I don’t want to give over control of my body, my decisions, my pursuits, or my goals to anyone who does not have my best interest at heart. In fact, I don’t even want to give control to someone who does have my best interests at heart. Otherwise we would obey God perfectly, trust those who love us completely, and follow Jesus perfectly.
Jeremiah speaks of God coming near and telling him not to be afraid. This is a refrain of God, Jesus, and the angels: “Don’t be afraid…”
- I bring you good news of great joy. (Luke 2:10)
- for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)
- go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10)
- for your prayer has been heard (Luke 1:13)
- only believe, and she will be well. (Luke 8:50)
When Jesus came to the apostles walking on the water they were terrified. Once they realized it was Jesus they also had to realize how awesome, mighty, majestic, holy, glorious, and dangerous he really is. I’m reminded of the song that says that God’s love is like a hurricane. Yes: in its power and might. But even the hurricanes are directed by a hand we cannot see. God is behind it all.
In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia one of the characters speaks of Aslan – the Christ figure. “Safe! Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Our God is dangerous to all who would refuse to repent and believe, all who would for this time fail to submit to him. But he is eternally good, merciful, gracious and loving to all who believe and – even with fear – welcome his presence.