How often something in a book will grab your emotions and not let go. That part of the book is stored in your memory bank and the emotions are easily pulled up again when you encounter a memory trigger.
I remember one such book I read as a child.
It was a story about a young boy growing up on a large farm. He was a gentle, sensitive boy, but rather a disappointment to his ‘manly’ father. I remember the father as a hard, almost cruel man…. OK.. in my child’s mind he WAS cruel and I so felt the boy’s pain that he could not measure up to his father’s expectations.
His father owned a large sheep farm and the boy so wanted a lamb for his very own pet. But his father had no use for pets and said to raise a lamb as a pet was a waste of a good animal. Even his mother’s intervention could not move the father’s cold decision.
Then one day the father called his son before he left for school and curtly asked the boy if he still wanted a lamb.
The boy’s heart leaped in hope as he answered in the affirmative. “Well,” said the father as he got dressed to go out, “a ewe gave birth somewhere in the woods and I have no time to look for the lamb. If you go find it you can have it .”
The boy’s heart dropped… “But it will be dark by the time I get home from school. Could I not wait until tomorrow, its Saturday.”
“The lamb will be dead by then,” answered his father shortly, then gave him a sharp glance. “You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?”
The boy gulped… it was his greatest fear.
His heart wrenched …. How much he wanted the little lamb but the fear of the dark woods was so strong he could taste it.
Finally the day was over and he came home from school, still wavering between his fear of the dark and his fear of the lamb dying or eaten by a wild animal before he could find it.
In the end he faced his fear of the dark and found the lamb, its weak bleating guiding him to it. He brought the lamb home earning his father’s unspoken approval.
Pictured in this child’s story in a very profound truth.
We all have fears… and it has been truthfully stated that fear is the greatest motivator of obedience. We obey that which we fear and we fear most to disobey that which is unchangeable.
The boy’s fear of the dark was strong , but it was fear of the unknown – the unknown is changeable.
His fear of the lamb dying was stronger because it involved an unchangeable truth. The lamb alone in the woods could not survive, and if it died so also died his dream of a pet lamb. His greater fear demanded obedience over the lesser fear.
Fear and obedience go together. Not many people disobey the laws of fire. ‘Hot’ is one of the first warnings taught to young children. It is important to understand the characteristics of that which is unchangeable. Not understanding can be the difference between life and death.
We are commanded to “Fear God.” (I Pe.2:17)
He is unchanging … "For I am the LORD, I do not change.” (Mal.3;6)
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” (Ps. 111:10)
When Abraham raised his knife in obedience to kill his own son God spoke to him and said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Gen. 22:12)
What did God mean? By Abraham’s obedience to God to the extent of being willing to sacrifice his only son… he showed whom he feared more than anyone else… and it was God’s unchanging character that he feared - but also trusted !
It has been said , “The man who fears to disobey God , fears no man.”
Man is changeable…. God is not !
The consequences of a lifestyle of disobedience to God are sure… there will be no reprieve…. But those who fear God and obey Him, are secure in His love !