“I have faith that God will show you the answer. But you have to understand that sometimes it takes a while to be able to recognize what God wants you to do. That’s how it often is. God’s voice is usually nothing more than a whisper, and you have to listen very carefully to hear it. But other times, in those rarest of moments, the answer is obvious and rings as loud as a church bell.” ― Nicholas Sparks
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
God has an answer –a comeback– for every situation that evokes fear in us. It is not a recipe for instant self-esteem; it’s not a quick-fit philosophy, or an unbeatable argument.
It is simply himself. The answer is a person.
When God said to Abraham “Fear not. I am your shield, he was offering himself as Abraham’s ever-present protection. The “I AM” is always with you.
I remember my first term at school. It was a large, tough primary school in an area of Sheffield known as Crookes. It never occurred to me to worry about the situation because my brother also attended, and his three-year seniority meant that I had an ever-present help in time of trouble. Fear not. I am with you. Family is on your side.
The name I AM is fascinating, isn’t it? Primarily, it refers to his eternal existence, but there is also a world of encouragement for us here.
For example, it can also mean “I WAS WHOM I WAS.” That means that I can trust him with my past. He was there, on my side, and even if I am tempted to be overwhelmed with guilt over the foolish mistakes I’ve made, those actions are no surprise to the great I WAS.
He is also I WILL BE WHOM I WILL BE. When I am fearful of the future, and anxious of the things that life might throw at me, I am assured that the I WILL BE will be there.
I AM all you need. Strength, courage, help, hope, provision.
Tell me what you need. I am your shield.
Because, you see, fear draws on the past, and focuses on the future; faith focuses on the present, where you are now, walking with God. And that means, as Paul put it, learning to “Keep in step with the Holy Spirit.”
Did you ever get suckered in to one those three-legged races? Strapping your leg to someone else’s and learning to walk together? Oh, those Dad-Son sporting events. They rank pretty high on my Embarrassment-Inducing list.
Which is by way of saying, it takes a bit of practice to learn to walk together. This is what Abraham was learning. Almost the whole life-lesson was learning to keep in step. Faith means keeping in step. It means trusting in God’s timing–not your own. So the key issue is this: Is God in control, or is he not in control?
If God is in control, he is never early; he is never late. He is always right on time. And as I learn to keep in step, I learn the dance, I grow in confidence that he knows what he’s doing.
One step at a time.
Genesis 15 is about God doing it all. God does not meet us halfway. God doesn’t even meet us most of the way. God does it all. We do nothing. I hear a lot today, and in recent years, about making commitments to God. In men’s groups, we hear a lot about being promise keepers, and promise makers. In evangelistic programs, we are instructed to tell people to commit their lives to Jesus, to give themselves to Him. In discipleship programs, we hear about making commitments and covenants with God.
But this passage reveals something else entirely. We aren’t the promise keepers. God is. He makes the promises to us, and He keeps them all by Himself. We don’t give ourselves to God. He has already given Himself fully and completely to us. We don’t make covenants with Him. He makes covenants with us, and there is only one name to sign on the bottom – His.
Jesus says in Matthew 11, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” There is no labour, no hard work, no effort involved. Paul writes similarly in Philippians 1 that He who began the good work will carry it on to completion. Philippians 2 says that it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. God does it all in us and through us.
Are you still trying to keep the enemy at bay? Just wait upon the Lord. Listen to the Lord. Trust in the Lord. Trust in His unconditional promises to you. Anything else will just wear you out and bring darkness and horror. Don’t try to meet God halfway.
Let Him do it all in you and through you for His good pleasure.