Following After Fear

And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. - I Kings 18:7-14

The Bible tells us earlier in the chapter that Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and Obadiah even attests to that fact by his words to Elijah and, even more so, by his actions in hiding the prophets of God from Jezebel. But notice his complaints or excuses to Elijah when the prophet told Obadiah to tell Ahab he had arrived.  "Are you kidding me?  Do you know what the king will do to me?  He'll kill the messenger.  Besides, if I do tell him, most likely the Lord will just sweep you away, and then the king will think I've lied to him.  Do you have any idea what will happen then?  No way, sir.  I know who you are, but absolutely not." 

His arguments lead me to wonder whom he feared most--God or King Ahab.  I believe that he honestly feared them both, but it seems to me that his fear of Ahab was ruling his actions and decisions instead of his fear and trust in God.  In a sense, he was trying to serve two masters because he was afraid of displeasing either one.  But the tricky thing about serving two masters is that it cannot be done.  Ahab was the most wicked king Israel had ever known.  How could Obadiah possibly please him and God at the same time?  It just doesn't work.

And yet, I found myself in the very same position the other day.  I have been praying about a need that must be met by the end of the month if the plan is to come to fruition.  It seemed like God was meeting the need, but one by one, unexpected events and expenses caused that provision to flitter away.  Sensing that God was not meeting the need fast enough and doubting that He could make it work (because I can't see how), I sought some ways to meet the need on my own.  And I thought I had found the perfect way, yet something deep inside me was unsettled.

I tried to justify my actions by saying, "Well, it was probably God who allowed me to think of this brilliant idea, so this is how He's meeting my need."  But the sense of uneasiness would not go away.  When I told Jason my grandiose plan, he shook his head and said, "No, Dana, that's not the way."  I pouted, but I still wasn't convinced that my plan was not part of God's will. . . until I remembered the lesson I had just taught on Obadiah.

Do you see how I was acting just as he did?  I fear the Lord, and I long to trust Him, but when circumstances arose, and I didn't see a way out, my trust faltered.  Instead of fearing the Lord and trusting Him to meet the need that I had placed in His hand, I allowed my fear of the circumstances to dictate my actions.  Once again, I tried to "help God out."  But God doesn't need my help, and frankly, He doesn't want my help when it stems from doubt and fear.  Thankfully, He helped me to see the light before I went through with my plan, but still, I wonder how many times I'm going to have to go through these same situations before I'll learn.  I honestly wonder if I have a spiritual learning disability!

This morning, during my prayer walk, I thanked the Lord for making His will clear, and I placed the situation of my need back in His hands.  Hopefully, I'll leave it there this time.

My friend, fear and doubt are powerful motivators.  Unfortunately, they often motivate us to do the wrong things. Let's be careful to not be like Obadiah.  He was a good man.  He feared the Lord.  But He allowed his fear of circumstances to dictate his decisions.  We must not do the same.  Fear the Lord, and trust Him to bring all things to pass in His perfect time.  We don't have to see how He'll meet the need.  We only need to believe that He will.

Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. - Deuteronomy 13:4