I must have sounded pathetic on the phone because a few days later I got a letter stuffed with hand-written Bible verses:
- "Fear not, for I am with you . . ." (Genesis 26:24).
- "Do not be afraid . . ." (Exodus 14:13).
- "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
- ". . . do not fear or be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 1:21).
- "Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is he who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:3-4).
The interesting thing about the command "Do not fear" is that no one ever takes it as a command. No matter how many times God belabors the point, we read it like a Hallmark sentiment: "Aw, now ain't that sweet."
Funny, we don't take other commands like that: "Do not turn in that term paper late or you will be marked down a grade." "Do not show your face here again until you have the money." "Do not turn right on a red light."
Sometimes I wonder if the grace-works pendulum has swung too far. We have taken the truth that we can do nothing apart from grace---and we have forgotten that because we have grace we must do something. And we can. Let's just try it and see, shall we?
My friend hasn't forgotten how to read a command the way they taught us in third grade. If God says, "Do not fear," and you are fearing, then CUT THAT OUT!
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