DayBreaks for 1/15/16: Our Ultimate Choice
John Donne was the author who wrote the famous line about “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” You may not have realized he wrote that line while he was suffering from what he believed was the plague. People were dying all around him, he was very, very ill. And when a friend of his died, he penned those words.
Throughout his ordeal, he kept writing about his despair and his fears. In his book, Devotions, he describes how he came to resolve his fears. First, he looked up every biblical reference to the word fear. And as he did so, “it dawns on him that life will always include circumstances that incite fear: if not illness, financial hardship, if not poverty, rejection, if not loneliness, failure. In such a world, Donne has a choice: to fear God, or to fear everything else.
“In a passage reminiscent of Paul’s litany in Romans 8 (‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels, nor demons…will be able to separate us from the love of God…’), Donne checks off his potential fears. Great enemies? They pose no threat, for God can vanquish any enemy. Famine? No, for God can supply. Death? Even that, the worst human fear, is no permanent barrier to those who fear God.
“Donne determines that his best course is to cultivate a proper fear of the Lord, for that fear can supplant all others. Finally, he prays, ‘…as thou has given me a repentance, not to be repented of, so give me, O Lord, a fear, of which I may not be afraid.” (Where Is God When it Hurts?, Philip Yancey, pg. 180)
Every one of us is afraid of something. But Donne’s conclusion that we either should fear God or everything else is a great conclusion. If God is real and He is all that we can imagine Him to be (and more!), we don’t need to fear anything else. But if God isn’t what He’s cracked up to be, then we had better be afraid, very afraid – of everything else that exists. Fear God or fear everything else – what’ll it be? Fear God – and fear nothing else!!!
TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, let us fear only You, trusting in Your goodness so that we need fear nothing and no one else. Then, let our confidence in Your faithfulness move us to do Your work at Your prompting. Free us from the prison of fear of anything except You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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