With Fear and Trembling

Over a year ago, I found myself in a tough place in my relationship with Jesus. After listening to a powerful message on the love of God that was demonstrated through the cross, I began struggling with the reality that I had zero emotions when I thought about the blood and what Jesus had done for me. I felt like my soul had become numb to the gospel story. I began questioning my salvation and whether the cross ever had transformation power in my life.

As I struggled with these questions and thoughts, I began asking God to help me answer these questions and to help me resolve my salvation in my own heart. It was a short season of renewal and one that changed the course of my life forever. Things were birthed inside of me that have changed the trajectory of my faith and ministry. But fast forward 10 months and I again found myself in a very similar situation.

I have a spot in the back of the sanctuary that I call mine. On Saturday nights during worship, I take this spot and I make it my personal worship bubble. I walk, talk pray and give thanks. I look forward to getting to that spot every week. I have had some powerful encounters with God walking along the back pew of that worship center.

One night, in August of this year, I felt nothing. I had walked in heavy with questions about who I was and what God saw in me. The previous night, I had a conversation with a close mentor of mine who asked me some questions that really challenged me to think about my walk with Christ. That night in worship, I crawled under that back pew in our sanctuary and stared at the carpet. I kept asking God to show me something, anything. I had never felt so empty in my life, but I felt nothing. I laid there for 30 minutes, I got up and then left.

The following weeks were trying for me. I never gave up and I kept pressing into the Lord to put some type of emotion or feeling back into my soul. I didn’t want to live the way I felt; like a zombie.
Philippians 2:12 instructs us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

I believe that we all have our own interpretation of what this means, but for me, these two instances over the past year were moments in my life where I was tested with fear and trembling in my salvation. I feared the void that I felt for the cross and the emptiness in my soul in my doubts that God could ever love someone like me. I trembled at the idea that my salvation may not be what I had thought all along and that I may be separated from the Lord if I didn’t find reconciliation. I feared what would be left of me if I never found the joy and peace of the Lord again in my life through these situations.

Our salvation isn’t a one-and-done transaction. It’s a lifestyle of transforming encounters that we have repeatedly with the Lord. It’s a constant ebb and flow of unbelief to faith, of brokenness to restoration and emptiness to wholeness. Working out our faith with fear and trembling is a constant process of knowing that we are nothing without our savior and trusting His goodness and grace to make us completely whole in Him.

As I have thought about these moments in my life over the past several months, there are several things that I have realized happen when we constantly work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There are ways we must approach God in order to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Humility
There is a form of reverent lowliness that we must take before the Lord. It isn’t a lowliness of groveling or pettiness, but humility that takes place in our heart when we recognize how great our Father is and how insignificant we are without Him. This humility births a fear of what our lives would look without Him and the sacrifice that was made on the cross to bring us back into relationship with Him.

Highest Honor
I have seen many believers claim to make Jesus their savior but have never really made Him the Lord of their life. When we give the Lord the highest honor, we obtain a reverent fear of God. It’s a fear that creates a genuine desire to please and obey His word, to listen to His voice and pursue holiness. Without giving God the honor, he deserves, we tend to lean on Jesus as a crutch that walks us into heaven when we die, but we fail to live in the wholeness of the relationship that Jesus died for.

Praise and Thanksgiving
When we constantly work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we are filled with an insurmountable desire to praise and thank Him for who He is and what He has done. A fear is birthed in our hearts for what our lives would look like without Him and we can’t help but praise and honor Him the way He deserves. This praise and thanksgiving is our outward expression of gratitude for the reconciliation that has happened in our lives. When we receive his love and grace in our lives, we respond in praise and thanksgiving.

You may find that you can think about the cross with no emotion. It may be hard to swallow, but you probably haven’t been in a constant process of working out your salvation with fear and trembling if so. Without this process, I believe we will never see real transformation in our lives. We can’t be transformed by a love that we have zero response to. The truth is many of us said a sinner’s prayer to escape eternity in Hell. I know that’s what I signed up for when I was 7 years old.

Jesus died for so much more than the status of your eternity. Believing the gospel story is the process of applying it to every situation that you face. Our salvation is a grace that is extended every day in our lives that we must learn to work out with fear and trembling. This may be a good opportunity to look at your relationship with the Lord and ask some of these hard questions.

If you feel nothing when you think of the cross, it may be necessary to begin asking God some really hard questions about your salvation. This constant process of fear and trembling is a must if we desire authentic transformation and a deeper relationship with the Father. My zeal for the Lord was altered tremendously when I found that I had no feelings toward the gospel story. I didn’t understand the process of working my salvation in this way. But I now know it is a constant pursuit. May you find the joy and hope in learning to work out your faith with fear and trembling!

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