Fear and Trembling and Faith

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Søren Kierkegaard used to intimidate me. In truth, he still does. He’s a daunting figure, both prolific in output and profound in thought. I viewed him as part of an undefined group of unapproachables, authors whose work lies beyond the scope of my ability to comprehend. But one of the joys of research is that you get to engage formidable thinkers and grapple with their work, approaching the unapproachables to learn their secrets. This semester, I spent some time researching Kierkegaard’s thought surrounding his book Fear and Trembling, and I was indeed challenged academically. However, the more I studied, the more I found myself challenged spiritually as well.

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I Do Not Want to Follow You Today

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I do not want to follow you today,
And though I know the path you set is right,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

I struggle now to find the words to say
That, though I do not want to leave the light,
I do not want to follow you today.

I still will read the Bible, still will pray;
Yet, as I stand before the darkest night,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

God, can I still within your purpose stay
When, with emotions filling me with fright,
I do not want to follow you today?

Storm clouds have come and turned clear skies to grey.
God, must I walk by faith and not by sight?
I do not want to walk the narrow way.

These few concerns before your throne I lay.
Lord, leave me not, though in this temp’ral plight,
I do not want to follow you today,
I do not want to walk the narrow way.


Photo by Konstantin Planinski on Unsplash

By Faith

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I feel the pain but cannot find the benefit.
The path I would have chosen seemed a better fit.
Yet tests portend the sacrifice. I see my wraith
Point to my cross and call me to walk forth by faith.
Faith does not promise answers, bids me follow still;
Points past my understanding to the Father’s will;
Grounds hope not in the knowing but in being known;
Endures uncertainty certain of heaven’s throne.
Faith fixes focus not on the ephemeral
But finds eternal joy within the temporal.
It lays aside success and loss for higher gain
And trusts the one who gives and takes to justly reign.
Obedience bids me to die to self in this,
To trust the process in this brief parenthesis.
The work you do is good, as it shall always be.
Steadfast unto perfection is the course for me.


Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Words, Deeds, and True Obedience

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We live in a culture of busy Christians. I read stories of the stresses of pastoral ministry driving pastors away from the church and into sinful lifestyles. I hear the struggles of my fellow seminarians as they attempt to juggle the demands of school and ministry and work, often walking the edge of burnout as they long for rest. I understand the weight of many responsibilities, often feeling both burdened by the load yet unable to slow down. We whose lives are marked by busyness would do well to remind ourselves of Jesus’s words on the subject of obedience.

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Not According To Your Expectations

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I wonder what went through John’s mind as he sat in prison. He’d answered the call of the Lord in the wilderness, proclaiming the kingdom of God and baptizing the repentant (Luke 3:1-22). He’d prepared the way for the Messiah, introducing the Christ at the beginning of Jesus’s earthly ministry (John 1:29-36). He’d faithfully stood for righteousness in the face of Herod’s immorality (Matthew 14:4). And yet he found himself imprisoned. The crowds he once taught left him to follow Jesus (John 3:26). While John found joy in humbly playing his role in the bridegroom’s story (John 3:27-30), he seems to have struggled with doubt while in prison, for he sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask an important question.

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Never for a Moment Apart

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“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

Presence.

Presence can make the act of sitting through a terrifying movie more bearable. Presence can make a nervous child more courageous. Presence can strengthen and encourage in powerful ways.

Presence can also cause a tempted eye to avoid the glance. Presence can make a child who’s considering disobedience choose to obey. Presence can remind and convict in powerful ways.

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The Fear of the Lord

Fear of the Lord

I’ve always been a bit fascinated with fear. When I was little, when the mildest frights could send me running, I still looked forward to October and to Halloween, the decorations, the costumes, and the spooky movies on the Disney channel each captivating my interest. In literature, I loved reading Edgar Allan Poe with his mastery of the macabre. Even in Batman cartoons and video games, I found myself enjoying the stories with Scarecrow more than the stories with many of the other villains. Fear, in a way, has been a lifelong interest.

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Faith When Obedience Looks Like Foolishness

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Allow me to set the scene for you.

Moses, the legendary leader of Israel, is dead. The wanderers have returned once more after forty long years to the edge of the promised land. Only the Jordan river lies between them and their inheritance. As Moses’ life drew to a close, a younger, God-fearing man named Joshua stepped up to claim the mantle as the leader of the people of God. Israel now stands on the cusp of a new journey, a journey full of war and grace. Continue reading