“Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will strengthen you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10, NKJV
Becoming a grandfather was a wonderful experience when our grandson was born more than twelve years ago. It was a second chance to appreciate the sacred work of being a father. As a grandfather, I had the luxury to behold the wonder of an infant coming to terms with a brand new world without being caught up with the anxieties and pressures of parenting.
My eyes were opened to the truth expressed by the Swiss philosopher, Henri Arniel: “Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness.” Children are God’s messengers to remind us to live with spiritual ears attuned to the voice of our Heavenly Father. As a grandfather, I began to appreciate how amazingly “grand” our Heavenly Father is and how true it is that I need to be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven and have A Wonderful Experience (A.W.E.) of God.
But first I need to face the reality of evil and my need for the grace of God. I need to see clearly the wrath and judgment of God against sin and evil. I need to hear and understand the call of the prophet Isaiah:
“Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.”1
The prophet Isaiah was warning the Jews of the spiritual cancer of idolatry. The fruits of idolatry are greed and violence that cause so much suffering that we are seeing in the current Ukraine war. The world has not really changed since the time of Isaiah:
“The lands beyond the sea watch in fear. Remote lands tremble and mobilize for war. The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, “Be strong!”
The idols of our modern society are money, sex, health and power. Greed drives us to worship money. Many are led away from the true abundance of living in the Kingdom of Heaven by the false gospels of health and prosperity. God’s judgment is to open our eyes to our need to have a “Get Out Of Hell” pass to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to wake up to the sinful desires, ulterior motives and hidden agendas of a worldly life which are causing the hellish conditions here on earth. Just as a doctor has to destroy the cancer cells to save the patient’s life, God’s judgment is directed towards the diagnosis and treatment of the spiritual cancer of idolatry so that we can live in the Kingdom of Heaven in the here and now:
“Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will strengthen you with My righteous right hand.”2
God does not want us to live in fear of His wrath against evil. The antidote for idolatry is to fall deeply in love with God . Only then will we be able to seek to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is the chief end of man according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We will not fear when we know that we have been redeemed by God and have been created for His glory:
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.’”
“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”3
We live in a dark and fallen world that is blind to the awe of God’s love – a world that needs to see that “the Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”4 God’s love fills us with compassion so that we have the perseverance and patience to love the people in our lives who are difficult to love. God’s love gives us wisdom to discern the fake and false news so that we can know and desire God’s perfect will for us. God’s love gives us courage to make difficult decisions. We need not be afraid to fail at anything when we trust that God will put everything right.
We will encounter suffering and struggles in a broken and godless world. Pain and suffering are the wages of sin and idolatry – they are not the will of God. It is how we see, hear and experience God in our suffering and struggles that is important. Will we face crises, challenges and conflicts with anger, guilt and fear or with love, joy and peace? Unless we learn to rest in God in good times to deepen our roots of faith, it will be very difficult to have a wonderful experience of God in stormy times when God seems to be absent.
To live an awesome life, I need A.W.E. (A Wonderful Experience) of God. I need to rewire my mind so that it is not filled with negative chatter but is full of “sticky positive thoughts” of God’s eternal love. I need to calm my restless mind which is like a mirror full of puzzling reflections and turn it into a pond with still waters so that I can see my true self more and more clearly in it. I need to follow Christ by living as a lamb of God in a world that is full of wolves – to be a living sacrifice in a world filled with wars and violence. With God as my Heavenly Father who holds me in my awful situations with His awesome power, I can live with my fears as I pray:
“Then hear, O gracious Savior,
Accept the love we bring,
That we who know your favor
May serve you as our king;
And whether our tomorrows
Be filled with good or ill,
We’II triumph through our sorrows
And rise to bless you still:
To marvel at your beauty
And glory in your ways,
And make a joyful duty
Our sacrifice of praise.”5
Lord, help me to see that awful situations are golden opportunities to have A Wonderful Experience (A.W.E.) of Your awesome Love.
- How can I be more aware of the negative chatter in my mind?
- What “sticky positive thoughts” can I use to counter my negative thoughts?
- How can I have a wonderful experience of God’s amazing grace each day?
Song of Praise:
O God Beyond All Praising
- Isaiah 41:1, NLT
- Isaiah 41:10, NKJV
- Isaiah 43:1,7, NKJV
- Nahum 1:7, NLT
- O God Beyond All Praising