DayBreaks for 1/14/16 – The Two Legs of Fear and Joy
It never ceases to amaze me: you can talk with two different believers about how we should react to an Almighty God and one will stress the fact that He is a fearsome God – and they’ll quickly point out that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Then, the next Christian you speak to will stress His mercy – and they’ll quickly point out the scriptures which tell us that “perfect love casts out fear.” So who is right? Is God Someone we should fear, or is He Someone that is our loving Father, pouring His mercy, grace and love upon us?
I think both are right. Why does Scripture seemingly present two sides of God? I don’t know about you, but there are times in my life when I need to be held and comforted by a Father, and there are times I need very much to be reminded that God is not to be trifled with – not even in the least! And so, I think that God, knowing how we vacillate and move from one neediness to another, makes sure that we have exactly the Word of counsel that we need at any moment in time.
In Where is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey asks: “What is the right way to approach a God we fear? In answer (John) Donne holds up a phrase from Matthew’s story of the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb: they hurried away from the scene “very frightened but also filled with great joy…” Donne sees in their “two legs of fear and joy” a pattern for himself.
Think about it: they were fearful, for the dead had come to life, the angels had appeared proclaiming his resurrection. What would they do if they happened to encounter such a God in all His awesome power on their way out of the garden? In fact, they’d seen him – and he was alive. The world was full of strange new things that they couldn’t grasp or understand. And yet, their legs moved with not just fear, but with joy – because the strange things that had occurred were signs “of the best possible news: Jesus had conquered even death.”
As we move through our day today, I hope and pray we’ll run on legs powered by both fear and joy – fear when we need to be fearful of Him, and joy when we need His joy. He’s provided both for us!
Matt. 28:8-9 NLT – The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, help us to know you better, and in so doing, learn to both love you and fear you appropriately. Help us to recognize our need for you. Teach us the fear of a Holy God who will not tolerate sin. Teach us the joy of a blessed Savior who paid the price for our sin. Never let us take either your joy or fear for granted. In Jesus’ name, Amen.