What would you say is the most frequent command in the bible? N. T. Wright, a leading evangelical bible scholar, had this surprising answer. “What instruction, what order, is given, again and again, by God, by angels, by Jesus, by prophets and apostles? What do you think – “Be good”? Be holy”? Or, negatively, “Don’t sin”? Don’t be immoral”? No. The most frequent command in the Bible is: “Don’t be afraid.” “Fear not.”
The command to not be afraid or fearful fits well with another major biblical theme: trusting God. As Jan Johnson has observed, “The Bible’s subtitle could be Holy Bible: Trust me! Brennan Manning, an author who has been of help to me, has observed, “that childlike surrender in trust is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship” along with, “the need for an uncompromising trust in the love of God.” I read this quote some years ago. It has stuck with me. Now, 10 years later, after some maturing on the journey, I would wholeheartedly agree.
I would say that moving from mistrust to truly trusting in the love of God is similar to conversion, in that, it is on going. I trust in Jesus more now then 10 years ago. But I still can get caught in the grip of fear, causing me to be shaken in my trust. I know it will be tested on the rest of my journey. The word of Jesus to me is a challenge. “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. (John 14:1- Message).
A spiritual pilgrim went to see Mother Teresa of Calcutta seeking a clear answer for the rest of his life. He wanted her to pray for clarity. Her answer may surprise you. She said, “No, I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of. I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.” Wow! That is convicting to any man of God who is struggling with trust. We want clarity and some kind of assurance. Wanting clarity, we can so easily eliminate the risk of trusting in God. We forget that the circumstance is being used to help us trust, rather take control. It is just so hard to let go of the controls. But there comes a time when you will just have to “jump.”
When I was going through a rough time recently the words of Psalm 143:3 became words the I hung onto as I awoke each morning, sometimes after a rather restless night. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust me life.” There could be a man reading this blog, who has gone into the pit of fear and worry. I know that feeling. My advice – pray this as a prayer. Cling to these words and cry out for mercy. As you do you will find strength and grace to get through the rough time you are in at present.
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