Saturday, November 30, 2013

The "Fear not" of God's meetings with us

Miraculous catch of fishes - Artist unknown
"Miraculous catch of fishes" - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 5:1-16

TO CHEW ON: "... And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.'" Luke 5:10

"Where are you?"

When Adam and Eve came out from hiding, Adam's first words were, "'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid'" (Genesis 3:9).

This was the first of many divine-human intersections where, when God broke through, terror struck the hearts of the people He appeared to.  "Fear not," God said to Daniel (Daniel 10:12).

"Fear not,"
He said to Simon here, before giving him a new life assignment, and destiny.

I love how Jesus' miracle involved the stuff of Simon's everyday life: the lake, the fish, the job he knew like the back of his hand. Matthew Henry comments on Simon and his fearful reaction:

    "The very fish of his native lake, then, were subject to this strange holy Man! This was no mortal, thought the fisherman, and he fell at the Master's feet. 'Finding as it does its parallel in almost all manifestations of a Divine or even an angelic presence, it (this awful fear) must be owned to contain a mighty, because an instructive, witness for the sinfulness of man's nature, out of which it comes to pass that any near revelation from the heavenly world fills the children of men, even the holiest among them, with terror and amazement, yea, sometimes with the expectation of death itself' (Archbishop Trench, 'Introduction to the Epistles to the Seven Churches')" - Matthew Henry Commentary on Luke 5.
But Jesus didn't slay Simon with His presence. Instead, He gave him a new reason to live.

Does God ever come to you and me in breakthrough ways that tell us our circumstance is no fluke or coincidence? Perhaps it is the supply of exactly the amount of money we need and were praying for. Or our pastor's message on Sunday is based on the verse that's been on our mind all week. Or we read something in the Bible or another book that is the precise answer to a question someone asks. Or...?

Whatever it is, after we've got over that holy shiver of awe, even fear—God is here; He sees me, knows me, is intimately acquainted with the details of my life—we need to keep listening and paying attention. For it is through exactly such fearful interactions that God steers and affirms us in the "...good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" - Ephesians 2:10.

Dear God, thank You that though Your presence is awesome, it is also accompanied by a "fear not." Help me to be tuned to what You are saying in these "patches of God-light" moments. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Andrew

Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew (who was a brother to the Simon in our story - Matthew 4:18-22). The liturgy of the day begins with this collect:

   "Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your Holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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