Putting Fear in Its Place, Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Practical realities are not to be ignored; boundaries of age, health, and territory exist. They are part of the practical realities that we must factor in to the decisions we make. Our boundaries are the results of decisions that have been made for us and of decisions we have made for ourselves. Abram joins us in listing realities that must be considered if we are to be responsible individuals.
God doesn’t deny the facts that Abram presents; God simply refuses to be bound by them. What Abram can’t do or can’t imagine are starting points for God. These starting points are introduced by this statement, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great” (v 1).
One of the hidden concerns brought to light during the Lenten season is fear. We are afraid that we can’t or that God can’t, or that we won’t or that God won’t. Fear is not choosey because it will work with any form of doubt. “Don’t be afraid” is a frequent greeting in the Bible. Heaven knows that fear permeates the air on earth. It’s how we approach much of what we don’t understand. The more sophisticated form of fear is called caution. We hold it up and call it good. When caution begins to look like counting the cost, we declare this refined fear to be biblical. We are very good at distilling fear. God and the angels cut to the chase and simply say, “Don’t fear.” It saves time and paves the way for important announcements and conversation.
In today’s passage, God is trying to get past Abram’s fears and practicality so that he can be blessed and be a blessing. Abram does get by the barriers in this passage, and his believing is rewarded each time. The blessings Abram receives are of benefit to him, but that is just the beginning. The real reward is in what is passed on to his heirs. Generations of offspring, as numerous as the stars, will inhabit the land between the two most important rivers in their part of the world. The symbolism is of the grandest proportions.
It makes one wonder what blessings are bound up behind other fears. Could it be that as Lent calls us to face fears, failures, disappointments, and darkness, it is also calling us ever closer to blessings with generational implications? Is this because Lent is a call to return to God, the God who’s always saying, “Don’t be afraid”?
Come forward fears, and let God reveal the blessings you hide. Fears are formidable and will not go away without a struggle, but eventually peace will come, peace and sleep. These are blessings all their own. We have learned that Advent blossoms into blessing. Let us learn the same of Lent. It, too, can blossom.
Abram’s believing counted as righteousness as far as God was concerned (v 6). Believing pushes past fears and, while acknowledging realities, puts them in their place.
Lord, as I confess the realities of my life and heart, put them in their place.
Allow me to participate in your blessing.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.