Yes, today was my birthday. And it was a wonderful birthday indeed.
This morning I woke up and spent a long (and I mean LONG) time in God’s word, and was reminded of some aspects of His character that I hadn’t thought about in a while. I was reminded that God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). I was reminded that greatness and power and glory and majesty is God’s, and that everything on earth and in the heavens are His, that He’s above it all, that both riches and honor come from Him, and that in His hands are power and might, and that He is capable of making great and gives strength to all (1 Chronicles 29:11-12). I was reminded that God shows and clearly proves His love for me, because while I was still sinning against Him He died for me (Romans 5:8).
And then when I left the dorm, I was sitting secure in who God is and in the fact that get to spend the rest of my life learning about Him and pursuing Him and learning how to love Him and to love others through Him.
I went to Travel Writing and enjoyed talking about the pieces we’d read, enjoyed talking about the book we’d read. The Fearful Void by Geoffrey Moorhouse is about the author’s attempt to cross the Sahara Desert from east to west via camel. Like most of what I read here at Pratt, the main point of the account was not the end (he failed, nearly dying), but the development of the human condition throughout the account and how he related to those he met.
The fear of man, which was an underlying theme throughout the book, is very prevalent today, and while it’s title “the fear of man” seems a bit philosophical, but that’s quite literally what it is. The fear of other humans. Whether it be rejection, or ridicule, or denial, or cruelty, or betrayal, we live our lives constantly afraid of what other people think about us and what they may or may not to do us.
I read a quote this morning by Eugene Peterson, which says:
“No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties. What it promises is preservation from all the evil in them…All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us. That is the promise of [Psalm 121]: ‘The Lord will keep you from all evil.'”
This evil talked about includes the fear of man and the possibilities or impossibilities of all the terrible things that could possibly happen to us at the hands of our fellow man. But what does God’s word say about this? I’m glad you asked 🙂
God’s word says that we don’t have to fear man, that, if we’re saved and pursuing a relationship with Him, He is our light and our salvation and the stronghold of our life, and that we need not be afraid of anyone (Psalm 27:1). He says that He is the one who justifies and strengthens and upholds and protects (Romans 8:33, 1 Peter 5:6-7, Psalm 27:1). God says that fearing man is like a trap, something used to keep us in bondage, and that whoever trusts in the Lord is safe (Proverbs 29:25). He says that we “can confidently say ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6). Now, it’s not that the sin in others and the way Satan and the dark forces of this world can’t move to physically harm you, but go back to Peterson’s quote:
“All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us.”
God protects us not only physically, but especially spiritually. He keeps our heart in the shadow of His hands and protects it from the weight of the world, a burden only He can bear. So even when we’re physically burdened or injured or the like, the Holy Spirit gives us the supernatural ability to carry on through trials and tribulations, when it would make sense to give up, when sheer power of human will just doesn’t cut it. I carried this thought with me today.
I had lunch with Karly and she very wonderfully treated me to a slice of red velvet cake from Connecticut Muffin. I really enjoyed my time with her 🙂
After that, I headed on up to Studio. That class passed and I headed back to my dorm to study for my French test tomorrow and steal a quick nap. Afterwards I went to German and learned how to say “Happy Birthday” as well as how to sing the Birthday Song im Deutsche. It was nice 🙂
I headed to the subway after class, and on the ride over I found myself having to constantly read through scripture. Do you know what I mean when I say “heaviness of mind”? Yeah, me neither. But that’s kind of how my brain’s been feeling, and it’s not a good thing. I carry around a large stack of index cards with individual passages of scripture written on them, so even if I don’t have my Bible with me I have these. And they help, because I’m constantly being reminded of what the truth is even in the small instances, when I’m tempted to be impatient while waiting for the train, when I’m tempted to react in anger or frustration to something someone said or did, when I’m tempted to worry or even be selfish or cowardly. God knows what He’s talking about when He describes via Paul His word as a sword.
At church, I continued to be encouraged and loved. After the service, I sat and talked with Jenny and Edward, mostly listening to their exchange and asking questions every now and then. Afterwards, Maria presented me with a giant card, the inside decorated with the outlines of every hand of every child in children’s choir, along with delicious-smelling lotion from Bath & Body Works 🙂 I felt very loved 🙂
Sam and Maria offered to drive me home and I accepted, really enjoying my time with them. I have to wonder how a twenty-year-old is supposed to feel. I don’t think I feel that way. I still like fruit snacks, especially the Scooby-Doo kind, and I also still really like light-up sneakers, so I’m not really sure what that says about me or about twenty-year-olds, but I suppose, when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t really matter, because no matter how old I get, no matter how grey or withered I become, no matter how long I live, God loves me and wants to grow me in Him and has great plans for me, and I can’t wait to experience them, one day at a time 🙂
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” —2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV