The principle of first mention is something scholars have used for years in biblical studies. As you might guess, first mention implies just that, the first mention of an experience, word, etc. in the scriptures and drawing original meaning from that textual setting gives you a reliable understanding of that topic.
For example, fear is first mentioned in Genesis 3:8-11.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?
Here’s the sequence.
Man feels guilt and shame for the first time as a result.
He reacts to those feelings and hides from God.
God asks man, “Where are you”? God knows where the man is, the man may not.
It’s simple to understand when you parse it out like this.
It’s simple to see when you see it parsed out in other people’s lives.
It’s not so simple to see it when it plays out in my life.
I started writing an answer to this question and realized that answer is a whole other subject!
Back to the sequence.
Fear has more control over people than you can imagine. Fear has torment. I remember the control it had on me. Horrendous doesn’t describe the control level.
Fear controlled everything in me. It controlled my thoughts, actions and insomnia. Here’s a strange thing. I always had it, but didn’t recognize it.
My wake-up call to fear began six years ago when Jean, my wife of 40 years died. I couldn’t conceive a life without her and now she is gone. I remember walking through the house for 18 months or so after her death unconsciously and sometimes consciously looking for her. I did not know how to bring closure to her permanent absence. Without her, I quickly realized my buffer, partner, and cohort were gone and I was ALONE.
I was left to do life alone. I think that’s what hell is like for the most part. You know, doing eternity alone. Man was not meant to do life alone. Let me reiterate, I felt alone, but knew that was not true. As much as I tried to walk in a conscious presence with God, all I felt was fear and apprehension. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I hated facing a sunrise. I hated facing people. I hated doing life! I wasn’t angry, I was afraid. Fear was so huge, there was no room for incidentals like anger. The only time I felt reasonably safe was in the evening. The day was done, but tomorrow loomed in the too near distance. I was in constant terror.
To give you some perspective, I have also been a born again spirit filled Christian since I was twenty three. I pastored churches in the past and was in ministry now during this oppressive season. Fear controlled everything in my life. I wanted my life to end. No, I was not suicidal, I just wanted for it to end. My relationships began to suffer as a result of my preoccupation with self-preservation. I couldn’t connect with people.
It was December 2, 2012 on a Sunday morning. Folks in our small congregation began gathering. In walks this bubbly woman, takes my hand as she introduced herself to me, and the next thing has me in this hug I will never forget. It was electric! I mean, I felt something trying to crank over this worn out engine of a heart. She succeeded. I had a couple of dates with women before this, but there was no life in them. I just had my engine cranked by this petite person and Carrie and I were married one year later.
Marriage didn’t fix me, however. Marriage doesn’t fix anything. It wasn’t meant to fix, but fulfill something on a grand scale. I mean, I knew that, but. was in love with what I saw.
God told me specifically the following. “I’m giving you this woman to give your my heart”. That’s another subject all on its own; not here.
Let me just say this. I have learned that my pride (ugly crap), anger, perfectionistic tendencies, etc., etc., all of those nested qualities (sic), have their root in fear.
Even fear knows it can’t go it alone. FEAR, aka, False Evidence Appearing Real, can’t go it alone. It requires the host of pride for it to operate. Think of it, when have you ever heard a prideful person admit they were afraid? Pride is fear’s most prominent cover next to anger. I think prejudice is next maybe followed by blame.
Fear is based on lies, or I should say a lie. What’s the lie? God can’t be trusted. And if he can be trusted, let’s keep him abstract and distant. This trust relationship of an abstract distant overseer god is really the preferred position for most people. It allows them the lifestyle they crave while having the amenities of a kind of background music. Everything is great until crap happens. By crap, I mean something as terrible as a flat tire or chipped fingernail, “God dam it”! See, I told you he couldn’t be trusted. He’s at the back of their minds until blame needs to find a target.
The fear of death is the most powerful component fear has. Fearing death will summon every available ally to your rescue. This fear will keep you and I in every sort of bondage imaginable. Self-preservation is at the lead of all things self. The preoccupation of self also keeps you from finding where you really are with respect to living. In other words, it centers your existence on death rather than life. I call that a deathstyle, not a lifestyle.
Real living is the experience of having died and having a resurrection. There is no way for you or I to really live without death and resurrection. Which one will you have?
Real living is what Jesus cam to give me. He gave me his death and said I could make it mine. He gave me his resurrection and said it yours.
I love what Romans 4:25 says, “who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous”