The day I knew I would have to say goodbye to my mother-in-law was one of the hardest, most terrifying moments I’ve ever faced. You see, until then, I’d never been around a dying person before. I didn’t know what a dying person looked like. Or how I should act or what I should say. I’d never walked into a “deathbed” scene; I’d never had to say goodbye to someone I loved, knowing I would never see that person again. And I’d never watched my children do the same.
As we drove from Nebraska to Minnesota that Labor Day Weekend, I was gripped by a paralyzing fear, and I scrambled for an excuse that would release me from the dreaded event that lay ahead. Just a mile from his parents’ house, I turned to Brad and blurted, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I’m afraid.”
I thought of that moment yesterday morning in church as I listened to the reading from Exodus, about the preparations the Israelites made before they fled Egypt. As I heard God’s solemn words to them, I understood the fear and dread they must have experienced as they heeded his dire instructions:
“Wear your traveling clothes as you eat this meal, as though prepared for a long journey. Wear your sandals, and carry your walking sticks in your hands. Eat the food quickly, for this is the Lord’s Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and kill all the firstborn sons and firstborn male animals in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:11-12).
Can you imagine the terror the Israelites must have felt? Can you imagine sitting with the knowledge that hundreds of young, first-born children would soon die? Can you imagine the dread? The apprehension?
The Israelites were faithful and obedient, sure, but I suspect they were also deeply afraid.
And the truth is, I think that’s okay.
Most of us assume that fear automatically signals distrust; but I think there are also times in life in which fear can and does go hand-in-hand with obedience. Let’s face it: life offers a lot of experiences we don’t particularly like and plenty of moments we’d prefer to skip.
God gets this. He knows us. He knows when we are weak. He knows when we are afraid. He knows that sometimes we have to force ourselves to obey him even when we’d rather run the other way.
God knows that on some days, dread-filled, fearful, tentative obedience is just about all we can muster, and he accepts it for what it is: not a sign of distrust, but rather, a testament of our faith.
Have you ever been deeply afraid of something, yet still went ahead and did it out of sense of obedience or respect?
With Jen's Soli Deo Gloria:
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