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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: May 9, 2024

When my son John was a baby, he had a very difficult time sleeping through the night, mostly because my wife and I didn’t make him because we were first time parents and had no idea what we were doing. But the time came for that to change, so we put him to bed. And he cried, and cried and cried and cried. Much longer than we expected him to, much longer than our doctor told us he would. He simply would not quit crying out for his mother or father.

So after quite some time, I finally broke down. I couldn’t handle the thought of my son thinking we’d abandoned him to the darkness. So I went into his room and picked him up from his crib and held him in his arms. And as soon as I did, he stopped crying, but he continued trembling. And he clung to me harder than he ever had before. He had just spent what probably felt to him like a thousand years in the pit of darkness. And then his father came to the rescue and lifted him up, saved him and restored him. And because he knew the depths of that despair, in his own infant way, he feared his father’s arms, not because he was afraid of being struck by them, but because he knew the same arms that had the power to lift him out of the pit had the power to put him back in it.

“But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.” So says the psalmist this morning. What does this mean? What kind of fear are we talking about? Well, the fear of God is not like the fear of monsters or boogeymen or the fear or snakes or heights or nuclear war. The fear of God is the fear of your Father’s forgiving arms, knowing that the Father who lifted us out of the depths of sin also has the power to put you back down, even though, unlike me in the analogy, He has sworn not to. The fear of God is clinging to your father with the trembling hands of a child, clinging to the one you know has given you salvation, while also knowing that you will lose His gifts if you embrace unbelief through your sin. For those now Christ’s forgiveness, therefore, the fear of God is not so much the fear of God Himself, but the fear of losing Him.

May our God keep us safe from temptation. May the God who picked us up in His arms through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ keep our hearts free from the desire to leap back into the pit of death. May we fear the power of the God who has sworn to rescue us from condemnation. May we forever tremble in the arms of our Father, trembling both with holy fear and endless joy.

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