During our breakfast-time, table-talk one morning this week, my husband told me about the following incident. While driving on the highway not far from our home, he saw a small fawn standing in the road in front of him. The animal walked into the road, stood there, and just looked at him. My husband said, “If that happens again, I’m going to speed up, not hit him, but blow my horn as loudly as I can.”
“What! Why would you do that?” I said, thinking how mean that would be.
“I want to scare that deer, so that he will understand that cars are dangerous and instead of standing in the road, he will run away. I want him to be terrified.”
Perhaps, that’s what the songwriter of “Amazing Grace” meant when he wrote this phrase—Twas grace that taught my heart to fear. Although these words are essential to the meaning of grace, most of my life I’ve sung them without thinking much about what they mean and quickly moved on to the next phrase—and grace my fears relieved.
Why would a loving God want us to be afraid? And how does he use grace to teach us fear? Don’t we have enough fear in our hearts?
The problem is not that we are afraid but that we fear the wrong things—and especially the wrong people. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. (Matthew 10:28 NLT) I’d prefer not talking about hell, but Jesus did. Why?
Not because he represented an angry Father who’s out to kill us, but because he represented a loving Father who’s determined to save us from eternal destruction. God’s grace teaches us that before his power, we are as vulnerable as an ignorant fawn standing in the middle of a highway. Fawns that walk on highways are not unsafe–in danger of being killed. As long as they stay in the forest, they will be safe—assuming it’s not hunting season. But they are ignorant of that fact.
Ignorance is also part of problem. We may not be able to discern which road is safe and which one is not. Often, as the writer of Proverbs knew, the way that appears to be right ends in death. (Proverbs 16:25 NIV)
But ignorance is not our only problem. Sometimes, we choose to disregard what God has told is a safe highway; Instead, we walk into a very dangerous highway of life. What does God do? He gives us much more a warning.
Imagine this: A fawn appears in the road in front of him. The driver of this car leans on his car-horn. But the fawn, paralyzed by fear, does not move. The driver stops his car, jumps out, runs as fast as he can, picks up the fawn and carries it to safety. Not understanding what is happening and being terrified, the fawn kicks, struggles, and bites him. Yet, the drive of this car does not become angry. A little while after the incident, he comes down with an incurable infection and dies.
That, today, is my picture of God’s incredible grace—the grace that teaches our hearts to fear, and then, relieves our fear.
We’re all like sheep [or deer] who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. (Isaiah 53:6 MSG)
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. (John 3:17 MSG)