Read Luke 1:12 and 1:29-30.
‘Have you noticed one can’t feel afraid, even if one wants to?’ (Lucy, to Edmund in CS Lewis’ The Last Battle).
Fear lives. It’s alive and well in contemporary life. Recent terror attacks in Paris have understandably left many Europeans in fear. Fear of travelling. Fear of gathering in a big city. Fear of future ISIS atrocities.
Fear paralyses. It causes us to waste opportunity. Settle for second best. Even miss our destiny.
Fear binds. It latches on to our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and slowly wraps itself around our heart.
Fear spreads. It’s often seeded in a legitimate concern. But it germinates as concern turns to worry. And a worry, if unchecked can grow into fear. Sometimes this affects just an individual, but fear can multiply, impacting a family. A community. Even a nation.
Fear hides. It lodges in the heart, so we don’t always see it at first, but others often see it in us. They read it our faces. Glimpse it in our eyes. Sense it in our demeanour. Observe it in our choices.
Fear impacts. It touches and influences and manifests in all sorts of ways. The fear of rejection. The fear of standing out. The fear of the unknown. The fear of getting hurt. The fear of death. The fear of not having enough. The fear of fear.
Fear destroys. That’s because fear is rooted in evil. The spirit of evil is a spirit of fear. In contrast, the bible says that the ‘Spirit God gives is not a spirit of fear’ (2 Tim 1:7). Rather, his Spirit is good, bringing ‘power, love and self-discipline.‘ That’s the prescription for fear. And, that’s what is wonderfully offered by God to all who are open to him, especially at this Advent season. It’s not a coincidence that in the Advent stories God says to those ‘gripped with fear … “Do not be afraid” ‘(Luke 1:13; 1:30).
Fear not. “Do not be afraid” is the word of truth so many of us need to hear today. Having heard it we need to embrace it, allowing it to change the way we view a troubling work situation, a difficult relationship, a concerning financial matter or a God-given dream that we’ve not felt brave enough to explore. Kris Vallotton is so helpful when he says that ‘our greatest destiny lies on the other side of fear‘. That means that a diagnosis of fear does’t have to lead to despair. In fact quite the opposite is true! Acknowledging fear is an opportunity for change, repentance and transformation. Get past fear and a whole new world opens up before you. That’s a world the Spirit of Jesus wants to lead you into. A world into which can invite others too. So this Advent – do not fear.
ACTION: Take a notebook and write 3 words across the top of the page: CONCERNS; WORRIES; FEARS. Take a minute to search your heart and then be honest and write down 2 things under each word (ie 2 things you’re concerned about; 2 things you’re worried about; 2 things you’re fearful about).
PRAY: Welcome the Spirit of Jesus and talk to him about the things you’ve written down. Take some time over each, especially the two fears you have written down. Hear him say to you (as in Luke 1:13) ‘Do not be afraid. Your prayer has been heard’. Then invite the Lord to change the way you see these fearful situations and the courage today to respond to them without fear.