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Fear Not

Here are some very familiar parts of the Christmas story...what is the common thread?
Luke 1:12-13  
12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.

Luke 1:26,30  
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,...
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.


Matthew 1:20 (NIV)
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.


It's entirely understandable that these various people...Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds...all of them had to face their fears.  Each of them were "afraid" because what they saw or heard was surprising and beyond their comprehension.  When we face things that are "out of our control", there is a certain sense of apprehension, even fear.

What is it about fear that can control our lives?  What is it about fear that enters into Advent?
I know people who "dread" Christmas.  They feel overwhelmed by the "things" to do.  They obsess about the gifts that need to be given, or even in one case, the ones they will receive.  They get crabby with the many things they "have to" do.  Instead of entering the Christmas season, Advent, with a sense of celebration they enter it with apprehension, even fear, and can't wait for it to get over.   Let me share a thought later on Advent, but first...

Fear is an aspect of life that all of us have to deal with. We fear what we cannot control.  Our fears speak loudly into our minds...so loud that it is all that dominates our thoughts and emotions.  What is it that causes us to create in our minds the worse case scenario?  Why think the fearful?  Is it because we can't control everything around us and it's not so easy to trust and turn things back over to God.
The answer to our fears is "trust".  "Lord, I trust you" is a prayer I pray a lot...because there is a lot of life to turn over.  The alternative is to live in fear...to have a mind filled with thoughts that can only be described as lies from the enemy.  Jesus told us that when we knew the truth, the truth would set us free.  In other words, we don't need to be controlled by, captivated by our fears.  Did you notice I didn't say we don't have to have fears?  It's not a matter that we fear.  All of us go through things that leave us fearing.  It's more that we face them with a sense of trust and leave them in God's control, while dealing with them in every way we can.

Now as to Advent, look again at the readings.
Mary responded by saying:   
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. [Luke 1:38]
Joseph: "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife." [Matthew 1:24]
The Shepherds:  "...the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." [Luke 2:15 ]

They each said, "Lord, I believe you...I trust you."
We cannot control all of life.  There will be fears around us day in and day out.  Yet we can choose to say "Lord I trust you" and learn to conquer those fears with faith.
Isaiah 35:3-4, 10 (NIV)
3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, ... he will come to save you...10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.


Peace

Comments

Chris said…
Thanks, Pop. I translated this into a kids' devotional for the boys as they ate their cinnamon raisin toast. Good stuff.
Wayne said…
Elliott,
Good post. Made me think and reflect. I especially recall a theme of Grant Mullen's teachings: "When trust is lost, fear moves in." That was insightful for me when I first heard Mullen teach on that and continue to reflect on how true it is. Blessings to you and Linda.
Paul said…
E, I wonder how many times scripture tells us not to fear, or not to be anxious. It is nice to hear about people that trusted. It reminds me that I too can conquer my own fears if I do the same things. The other thing that comes to mind about fear is: If God is the one who doesn't want us to fear, I wonder who does?
Miel said…
Thank you, Elliott! Insights much appreciated this time of year!

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