During the school year, I’m on the road a lot. One of the ways I pass the time is listening to audiobooks. I never thought I’d care for listening to a book, but if the narrator is good he/she can bring a story to life in an incredible way! Recently I decided to set a goal to listen to the entire Bible this year. I downloaded the NASB Complete Audio Bible and started listening.
I came to the story of Jacob (begins in Genesis 25) and noticed something listening that I hadn’t noticed previously reading. Jacob lived in fear. Multiple times throughout his story when someone asks him why did he do something, his answer is, “I was afraid…” He was scared of his brother Esau, of his Uncle Laban, of his powerful neighbors, of losing his sons, etc. Interestingly, when Jacob refers to God, he sometimes refers to him as “the fear of Isaac” (see Genesis 31:42). Now, I haven’t done an in-depth study, but I don’t recall God being called someone’s fear before the story of Jacob–or after it, for that matter.
It seems to me that Jacob’s life was ruled by fear. Many of his major decisions were based on fear. Even his description of God is centered on fear. While fear is not always a bad thing, I’ve heard it said many times that the most frequent command in Scripture is do not fear (again, I haven’t double-checked that to see if it’s actually true).
I think the key is knowing whom to fear.
People struggle with a variety of fears–fear of others’ opinions, fear of the dark, fear of losing a loved one, fear of your life not making a difference, fear of death, fear of pain, fear of someone who’s abusive, fear of losing your job, fear of losing your salvation, etc. Some of these fears may be valid and some may be silly. But none of these fears should rule our lives. Only one Fear should have total control over us. And when God is our Fear, all the other fears seem to lose a little of their bite. After all, “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
I hope my boys someday refer to God as “the Fear of Andy.” Could someone say that of you?