“As the five kings and armies of Amorites fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon and Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” Joshua 10:11.
The first time I read this passage, I immediately thought of the snowball scene in the movie Elf, where Will Ferrell’s arm is in fast motion as he pelts the mean-boys with snowball after snowball until they run away. It’s hilarious and heartfelt to watch this oversized elf care for and protect his human, teen-age brother. And to think God was probably having a blast too! In this one sentence we see God’s character, his intensity and his playfulness. Doesn’t He seem just like a boy: taking the bad guys down (hit), one hurl at a time (hit), showing off His strength and abilities that are mightier than the sword!
Yeah! Go God!
I believe it’s good to have some fear. My BFF loves bungy-jumping and roller coasters. It’s one of the few things we don’t agree on, but free-falling is just not my thing! When I examine why, my rationale goes back to getting migraines as a teenager. Plus, contact lenses. I remember vividly an episode of the hard lens floating around my eye. It poked as my eyes watered and became bloodshot. I felt like my body was spinning madly, even though I was contained in a small, yellow wallpapered bathroom. In my agony, which probably lasted the same few minutes of a bungy jump or entire roller coaster ride, I decided from then on to avoid vertigo-like, out of control, woozy feelings, that migraine headaches bring along with them. This episode (a direct (hit!) from the Holy Spirit?) became a moral compass – the fear of vertigo allows me to set boundaries in uncomfortable situations.
As I’ve grown in my faith and understanding, I’ve learned that all people of all societies have this moral law embedded in them. Romans 2 is a great chapter to read on judgement and righteousness. Verse 15 shares “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them”. God created humans in His likeness, thus regardless of faith or religion, we have moral law written on our hearts. As Christian believers, we receive the advocate of the Holy Spirit to strongly assist our judgement.
Many of us use some form of fear to teach children how to set their compass to true north:
- Fear of getting caught – see those cameras, they are to catch the shoplifters.
- Fear of the dead-end job – that last grade wasn’t so great; how can we prioritize finishing your homework/studying for the test.
- Fear of ruining your reputation – see that skimpy outfit/mean text/inappropriate picture on social media/(fill in the blank), people’s memories are long. They remember what you say and what you do.
Our God is powerful as well as merciful. I often pause and wonder if there are certain areas in which He is trying to get my attention (…hit?), softly, say with minor tests and set-backs (…like rain drops?), and if I don’t understand, I wonder how often He is shaking his head as he tries to teach me with a new lesson?
I recently became aware of a different form of fear. It came in the way of cyber-fear. My company was approaches by a law firm whose entire business approach is to collect fees for artists whose work was used and not paid for. That sounds moral and right, right? Except when I chose the clip art three-years ago, it wasn’t on a protected site, nor was there an option to contact the artist requesting use, it was just floating around the World Wide Web to be admired and enjoyed. I haven’t thought a moment about that photo until the junk-mail looking letter arrived requesting a four-figure payment for damages. On principal, I want to defend my rights and fight for my voice. I want to make them prove the picture on a building confidence blog was somehow harmful. Yet, to engage my corporate attorney would cost me $400 an hour. So, with every email from the faceless lawyer, every back and forth negotiation, I felt fear and anxiety over the cost and time that it would take to defend using clip art that was completely buried and irrelevant on my website.
Even though it felt like giving in, I signed the release and paid the fee, while whole-heartedly asking, God, what are you teaching me? Is it a reminder to only use my own artwork? Is it to share this story with readers as a forewarning that there are bottom-crawling lawyers out there, looking just to collect, not to protect?
…Or maybe a different lesson. Through the fear and uncertainty, God got my attention. With each softly dripped raindrop, He reminds me that righteousness always wins, that trouble follows evil, not the do-gooders (Proverbs 12:21), that evil people will bow down to believers (Proverbs 14:19), that “whoever pursues righteousness and love – finds life, prosperity and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21), and that “God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7). By blogging the traits of the moral compass embedded in all of us, gives God another chance to hurl a few hail balls (hit), give them a pause to consider their decisions (hit), and change the course of a few more lives (success!).
At Good Word Project, our hope is for our readers to “Fall in love with the Word of God” and I cannot help but point you to Psalm 112 which spells out the many benefits of why we are blessed by fearing the Lord. Read for yourself about your generations to come, the riches and wealth, generosity and righteousness, graciousness, compassionate, generosity, justice, legacy and on and on just from having no fear, with steadfast hearts from trusting in the Lord (vs 7).
Finally, consider another aspect of God’s character from “the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them”: The Lord has the power and the authority to do anything. He could have allowed Joshua and the Israelites to walk into the land of milk and honey without effort. But by testing their faith, getting them over their fear, they did more than they thought they were capable of. God is in this life with us – there is nothing to fear if we trust that He is.
Dear Lord, thank you for placing your ways on my heart. You are an awe-inspiring Lord that I want to trust and obey. Please strengthen me for continual moral battles in my home, community, career and church, so that more of your Kingdom can be present on earth. Thank you for fear and trust, and for instilling the knowledge that I can do all things through You who gives me strength. Amen.
(as published on Good Word Project October 2019)