Monday, November 7, 2011

Fearing Him means not being afraid of Him

"You will protect me from trouble"
Psalm 32:7

There was a news story that caught my eye the other day.  A man was convicted of murder for having caused a crash while driving drunk.  But there were two details that made it an unusual car-crash story:  first of all, the victim, and the two others injured in the crash, were nuns.   That somehow makes them more sympathetic as victims.  There's no reason we shouldn't feel saddened by hearing of the death of any innocent people, but I guess because we can know that these women were doing their best to do some good in the world, we somehow feel that loss more.

The other unusual detail is that the drunk driver was in the country illegally.  And he'd been convicted two previous times of drunken driving.  Now we're all definitely siding with the victims, right?

I live in Southern California, so it is not unusual to read about a crime involving someone who is in the United States illegally.  Not necessarily because illegal immigrants commit more crimes, but because it's more likely to make the news.  Please understand that I'm not making any statements on the pros or cons or ups or downs of immigration.  After all, my ancestors came here from somewhere else, too.

I sometimes feel sorry for illegals who have gotten into trouble with the law.  In this case, the man was completely at fault.  He drove drunk ~ not for the first time ~ and it resulted in a senseless death.  But I know there are so many who entered this country illegally ~ but with desperate and sincere motives of a better life for themselves and their families.   And then something unexpected happens, like a car accident, and their already-precarious life in this country is jeopardized.   And I think it would be hard to live a life knowing that a simple thing like getting a traffic ticket could have life-altering consequences, if it results in you and your family being deported.

I was thinking all this several days ago, when I accidentally left the house without my purse.  That, of course, meant that I didn't have my driver's license.  I was just dropping off my Awesome Girl at a friend's house, and then stopping off to say "hi" to my folks, which was on the way back to my house.  So it wasn't a lot of driving, but I was very aware that I didn't have my license.  So I was being very, very careful.  At one point I even passed a police officer, and believe you me, I made the world's most perfect turn in front of him.  I didn't want any danger of being pulled over.  Maybe it would not have been a big deal.  I don't know if that's just a "fix-it ticket" or if there's a fine, or what.  But I didn't want to find out.

I started thinking that that's what it must feel like to be one of those "illegals".  Trying to hard to be careful.  Looking over their shoulder, and feeling nervous when they pass a police car.  I'd hate that feeling.  I'm mostly a rules-following kind of gal, so I don't like the feeling when I'm being rebellious, especially when it's accidental!

I think that's why I try to stay on the right side of God, you know?  And why I am so, so glad to know my salvation is assured.  Ephesians 2:8 says "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith."  I just love knowing that.  Many years ago, I acknowledged in my heart that Jesus is not only Lord and Savior of the world, He is my Savior.  I still sin every day of course, but it only keeps me from growing in Him.  It does not take away the promise of eternal life with Him, because mistakes I make in obeying Him do not change my faith.

My faith in Him means that I acknowledge His power and sovereignty.  It means I know He is just, but also merciful.  I can count on that mercy.  I can count on His compassion when I stumble, and His forgiveness when I repent.  Rather than fearing Him as a vengeful, wrathful God, I see Him as my Abba Father.  I belong to Him, and I'm thankful that I have no reason to be afraid.

~ "You are my hiding place; 
You will protect me from trouble 
and surround me with songs of deliverance" ~
Psalm 32:7

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