I love to ride my bike. It’s my favorite form of exercise. In a nearby town, there is a wonderful paved trail that goes along the Carbon River, and in some places the trail goes over a bridge across the river. It’s really quite beautiful, but also very wild and remote.
When I decide to take the trail, as I will today, I drive down to the town of Orting, which is right in the middle of the trail, so I can choose to go SE, the “wilder” and more remote way which I prefer, or NW, where the trail parallels the highway for much of the ride. I like the remote way, because it is more beautiful, much quieter, and it is uphill going out, and downhill coming back.
About a week ago, while having my hair cut, I was chatting with my stylist and another stylist there, both of whom live in Orting. They were telling me that a black bear had been seen in town a couple of times recently. And then the other stylist told me that there are cougars around there as well. When I heard that, fear crept into my heart. The next time I went riding, I went the other way.
But fear isn’t what God wants for His children. In fact, God says “Do not fear” and “fear not” 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. If those of us who live in areas where there is a lot of wildlife were afraid of meeting a bear or a cougar whenever we venture outside of suburbia, we’d miss out on God’s beauty and handiwork. And since my bike rides are perfect opportunities to pray out loud, I’d miss out on my special time with God as well. Surely He doesn’t want that either.
In Isaiah, there’s a lovely metaphor about how we are God’s vineyard, and He tends to us every moment. Rather than give you the translation out of my New American Standard Bible, I’m going to provide the more direct translation out of the Hebrew Interlinear Bible:
In that day, sing ye unto her
A vineyard of red wine.
I, the Lord, do keep it; I will water it every moment:
Lest [any] hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
Fury [is] not in me: who would set the briars [and] thorns against me in battle?
I would go through them, I would burn them altogether. (Isaiah 27:2-4)
Don’t you love it? We are God’s vineyard, and He is the vinedresser (just as Jesus spoke of). He not only tends to us night and day, he waters us every moment. There is not a single moment when God is not tending to us, protecting us, giving us His living water. And if someone or something (spoken of as briars and thorns in this metaphor) would come against us, His vineyard, He would “go through them and burn them altogether.”
He makes the point that He is not one normally given to wrath–“Fury is not in Me”–but if someone comes to hurt His vineyard, He has no mercy. He burns them altogether.
We don’t have to be afraid. We will fear no evil, for He is with us. God is watching us, tending us, and protecting us, moment by moment.