Coming down from Emerald Mountain with my very cautious and somewhat fearful daughter this morning after our sunrise hike reminded me so much of myself. I have always been very cautious and somewhat fearful especially when it comes to pain (though I am finding the older I get, the more risks I am willing to take). I remember particularly a hike I went on with a sister and two other missionary kids when I was younger (I don’t exactly remember how old I was, but it had to be somewhere between 6th and 9th grades; probably on the younger side.) We were out at Coaba, a farm owned at that time by WMPL. We would visit the farm once a year for the annual conference our parents attended. As I remember it, the farm was roughly triangular in shape with two creeks/rivers converging at the point of the triangle. We often played in the nearer of the two a favorite pastime being the use of eucalyptus saplings to vault across the water from boulder to boulder. On this particular day, the four of us decided to explore the other creek, the one on the far side of the farm. The two other missionary kids were fearless; they skuttled up a face of chipped granite and followed the creek up to heights beyond where I was willing to go. I was bound by my fear of getting hurt and missed out on some of really cool sights, specifically some beautiful waterfalls (or at least that is what they told me).
Fear in the case of caution and pain is good. Fear keeps us from doing things that would hurt us. But when it comes to our relationship with God, fear should be eliminated. Fear of eternal separation from God, the “death” that is the consequence for our sin, can drive us toward a God who loves us. If we live, however, in the fear of death, then we have not had a saving God encounter. When we do have a saving God encounter, fear is removed; in it’s place God gives us peace and assurance of an eternal relationship with Himself. Paul wrote to the church at Rome: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!'” What God does for us in that saving encounter is set us free from our fear by giving to us His presence through His Holy Spirit. The one who is not saved is said to be a slave of the sin that separates us eternally from God and can only find fear in considerations of eternal life. But, the one who is saved, whose sins are forgiven, is now a child of God adopted into God’s family. It is an adoption that frees us from out bondage to both sin and fear and gifts us with a relationship with God in which we can even call Him “Daddy.”