Monday, January 23, 2012

His Work, My Safety

Ann at Holy Experience recently posted What's the Answer to Anxiety? in which she reminded me that John Calvin was no stranger to fear. As I have ever so slowly paged my way through his Institutes only one passage has left a distinct impression, the memory of a particular line.

Calvin was no stranger to fear. He knew real fears, this pastor who could write, "life is in a manner interwoven with death." But Calvin also knew something of imaginary fears, cords wrapped tight around the heart (or else he sat up late in bed, comforting his wife, taking notes).
Then, in what direction soever you turn, all surrounding objects not only may do harm, but almost openly threaten and seem to present immediate death.
Walk along the streets, every tile upon the roof is a source of danger.
Every turn, every tile. Rogue winds and pit bulls and wasp spray beside the bed for intruders. When I confide my secret fears to Bryan late at night, he laughs and holds me tight. As I recently read in C.S. Lewis, perhaps the lover most easily sees the absurd in us.  Imagine my relief when I discovered Calvin, the spiritual giant, had obviously given such careful thought to fear.

Of course, Calvin moved beyond fears to the relief and freedom we have in Christ. We are "confidently committed" to God and His providence. We can be set free from every care.
This, I say, is his comfort, that his heavenly Father so embraces all things under his power - so governs them at will by his nod - so regulates them by his wisdom, that nothing takes place save according to his appointment...
How comes it, I ask, that their confidence never fails, but just that while the world apparently revolves at random, they know that God is everywhere at work, and feel assured that his work will be their safety?
 "Give heed, " Calvin, the pastor, concludes the section. Give heed, my silly little heart, and see God everywhere at work. His work is my safety in a world that is anything but random. Look beyond the glowering skies and see the nod of the Lord who takes pleasure in His people (Psalm 149:4).

*All quotes are from Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book First, Chapter 17, Sections 9 and 10.

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