There are some things in this world that are just plain freaky. There’s no way around it, and there’s no other word to describe it. And, if I’m honest with myself (which can be difficult at times—another blog for another day), I usually find freaky things to be scary, too. Not always… but usually.
One of these freaky things that have also been deemed by yours truly as scary are cockroaches. I literally cannot think of a good reason for the creation of cockroaches. Go ahead, try to come up with one.
…See? No good reason.
Cockroaches are freaky. I remember being told as a child not to be afraid of bugs, because I was a lot bigger than they were. But it does not matter how many hundreds of times bigger I am than cockroaches, because on top of being able to move really fast and hide themselves better than a ninja on a dark night, they also can fly, and they can survive a nuclear winter. I can’t fly OR survive a nuclear winter. (Yes, I left out the ninja one on purpose.) However, I have been facing my fears—mostly because a man can only defer killing bugs to his wife for so long before he starts to feel his sense of masculinity slipping away—and I truly have no problem dealing with them anymore. In fact, I might even say that the cockroaches fear me, because I am straight up fierce toward them. No more playing games: if you are going to be that scary, AND come into my house uninvited, you are probably going to die.
The Israelites underwent a similar transition of being fearful to being fearless, too. While they were in Egypt, they were afraid of pretty much anything: being in slavery, being freed from slavery—you name it. But God leads people through victorious incidents so that they will live with a victorious identity, and after seeing so much of God’s power and provision on their journey to the promised land, the Israelites started to actually be feared by others. In Deuteronomy 2:4, Moses relays a message from the Lord to the Israelites: “You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful.”
The first part of that sentence I get. I can relate to others being afraid of me. (Well… at least freaky bugs.) It’s the “be very careful” part that catches my attention. One of the interesting things about God is that He is the ultimate power in the universe; but He’s not a bully, and He’s not reckless. History shows that for many people, more power leads to less self-control, but it’s not that way for God. He is both unmatched in power and unsurpassed in wise restraint, and He wants His people to represent Him well. So He tells them ahead of time that they are going to be scary, therefore they need to be self-controlled. The more fearless we are, the more careful we must be, because God’s ultimate goal is not for Christians to display His power by conquering everything around us, but by standing as an example of the strength and victory that Jesus can provide to anyone who will follow Him.
The Father has granted every disciple of Jesus a level of authority and power that cannot be overcome. Cockroaches? No mercy. I will stomp on them in Jesus’ name without a second thought. But people? I’m hoping that I’ll be extra careful—careful to represent both the Lord’s power and His wisdom to the world in such a way that invites them into a victorious identity in Jesus.