Then I said to you, "Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place." In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deut. 1:27-33
I am exactly like the Israelites. God, time and time again, makes His presence known, His love evident, His provision tangible and yet my Gospel amnesia is so great that moments later I am convinced I will die alone in the desert and be eaten by wild animals. "As a Father carries his son..." is His promise to me as one clothed in His Son, yet I am more prone to believe I have to walk alone and get there by my own will and wit. Each cactus shadow makes me jump and dread what lies ahead. So, how does the person and work of Jesus confront my unbelief in seasons of scurry, change, upheaval, and uncertainty? Why do the dominant voices of cynicism and fear have such success in minimizing His dominion in my heart?
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Rom. 8:15-17
Is it possible that this season of waking at night, after I've fallen asleep for a couple of hours, due to high anxiety and an overactive mind is sharing in Christ's sufferings? When He alone spent time fully separated from our Heavenly Father, on the cross smothered and covered in my guilt and toxic sin, it must have made His heart pound with fear and desperation like I will never really know. That wide eyed terror of being confronted by traumatic destruction and loss is not possible in the presence God whose perfect love casts out all fear. My experience with mild doses of that kind of fear happens because somewhere deep down where I can't seem to control it, I believe I am separated from God's good, loving, kind care and protection.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Rom. 8:29-35
The existence of unknown wicked schemes of those who could cause me great harm, from governments to businesses to strangers just down the street, does not mean that my sonship (daughtership) is a thing of the past or that even those are somehow excluded from conforming me into the likeness of His Son! How does His Fatherhood, Kingship and Redemptive Lordship interpret the scenarios which most grip my heart with fear?
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Col. 1:16-18
Nothing can separate me from His love or His Fatherly care because there is no scenario from which He is separate. He was not absent in the desert or in the fiery furnace. His children throughout biblical history have been told not to fear because He is with them! The children still get placed in lions' dens, whale bellies, before hateful kings, in the forced servitude of wicked masters...and yet in all these things God is conforming His people to His image, even as they all find their meaning and purpose in Him.
Genuine separation from the Father will forever only have been experienced by One of His children - the Child. Because Jesus endured that, I do not have to fear such a genuine and helpless isolation. In what scenario can I find myself separated from His Fatherhood, His Kingship or His Lordship? Jesus is at work in my fears to birth a new depth of belief in His promises, person and work. Oh may I move from mere theological agreement with "sonship" to trusting His Fatherhood and living securely as His child.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.