What is God’s most often repeated commandment?

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By David Wecker —

David Wecker

My account is not of a record-scratch experience where my life abruptly spun around 180 degrees in a single moment.  For me, asking Jesus into my life has happened over a series of realizations.  It has been a process and continues to be.

I grew up in a loving family with parents who were active in our small town Lutheran church.  We sat down to dinner together and always thanked God for our meal with this simple prayer:

Let all of us in full accord

Give grateful thanks unto the Lord,

A very kind and gracious Lord

Who gives us more than our reward.

That was my foundation.  I often strayed, often thought only of myself, even when I knew I was wrong, even when I knew I was engaging in dangerous behavior.

But I never doubted the existence of God.  Or that Jesus was God, as in the Son of God.  I’ve never doubted He is a loving God, one who gives us control of our lives through the gift of free will.  A world without God and all the things in it didn’t make logical sense – to the point I have taken Him for granted.  I’ve always known He was there, although there were long stretches when I was less aware of Him than I wish I had been.

So I’m grateful for the moments when He has reminded me.  One such moment came at a men’s retreat at Camp Northward about 17 years ago.  Vic Vogt, worship minister at the time, committed the praise band to playing at the retreat’s opening service.  It was on a Friday, which I wasn’t excited about.  But I thought, OK, I’ll go ahead and be part of the worship.  As soon as the last song was finished, I thought, I’d grab my gear, get out of there and have my Friday night to do … well, probably nothing.  But still.

My plan was spoiled when the speaker leaped onstage before the last song was over and launched into his introduction with the final notes still hanging in the air.  Missed my chance!  Begrudgingly, I settled in to hear what he had to say.  I would never have guessed the impact his sermon would have on me.

It was a critical time in my career.  I had considered my work at the newspaper my ministry.  I had a space where I could write about whatever I wanted and often had a chance to write about how someone’s faith or testimony had made a meaningful difference – and often would again when someone read about the story in the afternoon paper.  It was work I loved.  I had a pulpit.  To a great extent, it was work that gave me purpose.

But the newspaper was failing, like so many newspapers around the turn of the century. The company had offered a buy-out, and I was thinking of taking it.  But I was decades away from retirement and deeply concerned, even afraid about what my next steps might be.

Turned out the speaker’s sermon that night was about “God’s most often-repeated commandment.”  What was the one thing, more than any other, that God wanted his people to keep in mind?  I had no idea. The answer stunned me: “Fear not.”

There He was, the Creator of the universe, God of everything I could ever see or imagine, the one and only God who created beauty and gave us eyes to see it, saying that the one thing in His Bible that He wanted me to know more than anything was that I can and should trust Him, no matter what – and in that trust, I don’t need to be afraid of anything ever.

That is the message – not “Thou shall this” or “Thou shall not that” – more than any other that He wants us to take to heart.   I tried to understand the vastness, breadth and depth of the oceans of love that motivate “Fear not.”  Having no fear – that’s pretty close to my idea of heaven.

I’m one of those works in progress.  Two steps forward, one back.  Do I still worry, even knowing that worry comes from fear?  Sometimes, but less than before.  And whatever my temporary state of mind might be, I’m filled with gratitude every day to God for including me in His plan – and to Jesus for patiently helping me discover what my purpose for being born might be.

Thanks to Jesus, who is my savior, I know I have no real power over anything other than my power to exercise my will and choose the one God who created me and everything around me.  I am sinful, helpless and mostly ridiculous – except for Jesus and except for God, who give me choice and give me purpose.

 

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