The fear of losing
Having served in the armed forces I appreciate the reverence of the US soldier for his rifle. The video clip is almost like a military Psalm of praise to the rifle. In my time of service in the British Army the standard issue was the British L1A1 SLR and mine was customised just for me. It was early in training that I realised that having short arms wasn’t good for this weapon and later in my service, just prior to a tour of Northern Ireland, I was issued with an SLR with a cut down butt or artic butt. This was going to be my own rifle, always on issue for those short arms of mine. Without the shortened butt, when I was in the prone position my rifle just pointed at the floor, unless I held it under the magazine.
One thing I can remember was the severe, if not unimaginable horror of losing your rifle. In Northern Ireland the weapon was effectively strapped to your wrist to prevent its loss. There was a great reverence for your rifle and although it wasn’t your God it probably came very close in times of combat. The fear of losing your weapon or being caught in a conflict situation without out it was great but at the same time your love of that rifle and the feel of it power (especially for a little soldier like me) was comforting and cleaning it just right ensured it did the job it was designed for.
Throughout the bible we read of the “fear of the Lord” and its so easy for us to reason that it’s obviously best for us to be fearful or terrified of God. Believe me there are a lot of good reasons for being fearful, but God wants a relationship of love rather than fear. So how do we put the fear and love together.
Psalm 118:4 Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Well I’m not trying to compare God with a rifle but in the relationship of a soldier and a weapon we see a love for his weapon and a great fear in the “being without” his rifle.
Those of us who have experienced the reality of a relationship with God have also recognised just how terrifying it would be to be without Him. To be honest the greatest fear in my life is being without God as I know that I can’t really trust myself or anyone else to get me to the finish line or even live reasonably in this world.
King David in the bible is a prime example. He, his officers and his people had offended God greatly and when asked to choose a punishment he asked to fall into the hands of God. You see even in punishment it was more fearful to fall into the hands of men than God. David was fearful of being outside of God’s control of his punishment.
The Psalmist knew too well the fear of being cast away from God and wrote – Psalm 51:11 Do not cast me away from Your Presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
You see “the fear of the Lord” is exclusively for God’s people because only they can fully understand the fear of being without the One who has redeemed them from death and having rescued them from a faith and trust in themselves, which always leads to disaster.
Moses knew the fear of being without the God if Israel and knew that only with God was Israel different from all the other nations.
Exodus 33:15-16 Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. “For how then can it be known that I have found favour in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”
This then is the beginning of wisdom, for to understand that your own power, skills, abilities, education and connections are useless and destined for failure makes you appreciate that total surrender to the Lord of Life is the only life there is. The fear of what it would be like to be outside of His presence will keep you following Him.
“True perfection consists of having one fear: losing God’s friendship” GREGORY OF NYSSA (AD 329 – 390)
This is the fear that God wants. It’s the fear of the little child, who looking around for its parents, suddenly breaks down in tears because they “aren’t there”
Just like that little child you are to cling to Him and fear the very thought of living a life directed by your own will and intention.
Deuteronomy 10:20 “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name.