by Ken Barnes
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.
Proverbs 19:23 (NASB)
Satisfying sleep can be a scarce commodity when our decision-making process is influenced primarily by pride. On the Big Island of Hawaii, I once learned that spiritual attacks at night can be an indication of whether we fear God or man.
He Is Going to Embarrass You!
I was in missionary training with Youth With A Mission on the Kona Coast of the island of Hawaii. Theo was a young man whom I had befriended while sharing the gospel on the streets of Kona. I wanted to take him with me to a YWAM community meeting. He seemed open to going.
One evening I stopped by his apartment to ask if he wanted to go to the meeting. I opened the door, and there they were, Theo and his friend holding bottles of beer. I scanned his face and his body language, trying to discern how long he had been drinking. Thoughts rushed through my mind. I wonder if he is drunk. The people at the meeting are going to smell the alcohol on his breath. He might say some things that will be embarrassing. Fear latched onto me, and after a few minutes I quietly left, feeling a little guilty but never revealing to Theo the real purpose of my visit. I had allowed myself to be manipulated by focusing only on how the situation would affect me. Self-centeredness is a fuse that ignites all kinds of evil.
Pride and fear are very good buddies, and together they are very adept at swaying us away from doing the will of God.
Lord, What Is Happening?
That night I was beset by horrendous dreams filled with all types of evil. I awoke and was emotionally distressed. I cried out, “Lord, what is happening?” I picked up my Bible and was led specifically to Proverb 19:23. The words “so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” jumped out at me. It did not take a spiritual giant to realize I had been duped. Pride always has a deceptive element to it. It leads us to see or hear things that are not really there. I am convinced to this day that Theo was just having a beer with a friend and was nowhere near inebriated. I had believed a lie in relation to his sobriety.
How could I have been so deceived? It was because I cared more about what people thought about me rather than the soul of the person I was trying to reach. It was a classic example of the fear of man. The Bible says, “The fear of man brings a snare” (Prov. 29:25). God sometimes takes the scales off our eyes and allows us to see ourselves as we really are.
It was not a pretty picture for me that morning. I learned on that South Seas island that if you want to protect your mind and heart, fear God and not man.
Ken Barnes is the author of The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places: The Joy of Serving God in the Ordinary, available in paperback and e-book formats. You can visit Ken’s blog at http://gleanings757.blogspot.com.