I’ve grown up hating two things everyone around me seemed to love: roller coasters and thunderstorms.
Don’t get me wrong, Space Mountain at Disney World is my jam- I’ve ridden it at least 6 times in the past year. I’m talking about the big, scary, slinging you around and upside down roller coasters. Sometimes I would tell myself to muster up the courage to ride them. I would stand in line with my brothers determined to be brave, but once I got close enough that I could see and hear what I was walking into, I would ever so conveniently need to go to the bathroom and “just wait this one out” with my mom.
And while we’re on the topic of brothers, be ever so grateful you weren’t one of mine during thunderstorms. I mean it was sheer terror the moment I heard what could have potentially been thunder. I’m not sure why I’m stuck on Disney today- maybe it’s time for a trip back- but when I was 6 years old my family went to Disney World. We were in Magic Kingdom on a July evening and it was storming terribly. I was naturally petrified and waiting for all of us to die there. But we were eating in a restaurant and Chip and Dale came over so I was fine for a minute. Then, my brothers convinced me the chairs were just someone moving chairs above us and the lightning was cameras flashing- P.S. this was the year 2000, long before iPhones so everyone had cameras with huge flashes. Crafty as they were, I bought it and enjoyed our meal not scared at all, because the storm wasn’t real.
I think ultimately what I hate about these two things is that they place a threat on my sense of being safe. If I am upside down moving at a rapid speed, I am in no way in control, in no way guaranteed my safety, and I don’t enjoy the thrill. I just terrifies me. And the storms, they just always made me feel so small and helpless and like some terrible thing was impending ever since a giant tree fell on my neighbor’s house growing up and tore down half of it because of a really bad storm.
I think we’re pretty naturally wired to try and be safe, that is unless you’re a big thrill seeker. But for most of us, we want to know that we’ll live to see tomorrow and when we don’t believe it, all of the anxiety sets in.
I wrote recently about how the transitions of life are so hard and so scary. (Read more) But sometimes it isn’t simply transitions, but just situations or circumstances that threaten these sense of being safe and secure that we’ve created. And what do we do there and how do we approach God when we know He can give us every good and perfect thing, yet we’re trembling and fearful, wondering if we will even live to see tomorrow?
But there is this cool pattern in scripture of God proving over and over again that He is faithful and that we can trust in Him, which should come at no surprise.
In Ezekiel, God is warning the people to turn from all of their ways of sinfulness and idolatry. Continuously in this book, we see God’s fierce and zealous love as He talks about how all of the altars they have built to other gods, all of the security they have established in so many things apart from Him will be destroyed. “And then they will know that I am YHWH their God, who delivered them from Israel.”
Ezekiel 38 describes when the people are living so securely that they don’t even have walls on their houses, the Lord will come to “remind” them of His zeal and glory by destroying all they have built. The passage then goes on to describe how the Temple should be constructed and I was reading this like what, I think you missed some key transitions here, Ezekiel?! But what a pattern I soon discovered through Scripture that God utterly destroys what we are placing our security in apart from Him, and in those moments when we are trembling in fear, He invites us to come and worship Him. And these are the most intimate moments of worship.
Like when He destroys the whole entire Earth as they knew it, their sense of community, everything that had been established, and invites Noah and his family to build and altar and worship the Lord.
And when He destroys sin and death on a rugged cross and an earthquake and breathless Savior have us at a loss for if we will even live to see tomorrow. But when the stone rolls away from the tomb, we are invited to come and worship.
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
So in a season of seeing all of the senses of security and protection I have built, I am learning that having those torn down are not God telling me He doesn’t love me, but in the fear and in the trembling, He is inviting me to come and know and trust Him like never before.
I recently attend an IMPRINTED event, in which Erin Moniz ever so wisely said, “Fear and hope are a double sided coin. Whatever you fear is what you place your hope in.” And I had to swallow a big lump in my throat. Because so often I place my hope in good things, but not necessarily the ultimate things and I fear because I know that I know that they will not be enough for me. Only my Father can.
So I’m learning that fear is truly having my hope in the wrong things, the things that aren’t worthy of my hope of protection or hope of glory.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.