Saturday, December 8, 2012

God, You, & Luke 2: Day 8

I have wrestled with fear my whole life.

My earliest memory of the ridiculous grip this has had on me was in the 3rd grade, when a friend invited me to go swimming at a really cool swim park that was an hour away from my home. I jumped at the chance to go, but as I was waiting for them to come pick me up, I began worrying about being in a car wreck. If that happened, I'd never see my parents again. I vividly remember standing at the door watching for them and being terrified of this possibility. And yet, I wanted to go so badly.

I did end up going, and had a great time. But the memory of that fear lingers.

Fear messes with your thoughts and emotions. And your joy. Especially, imagined-hasn't-even-happened-yet fear. It robs you of real life right now. I hate it.

I'm thinking about fear because of Luke 2:9-12

 "And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Now the shepherds, at least in this instance, didn't suffer from inappropriate, imagined fear like I have tended to torture myself with. It's completely appropriate to be afraid if an angel of the Lord appears to you in the middle of the night. But what I love about these verses is that we are shown right here - in the announcement of our Savior's birth, how to deal with all fear - real or imagined!

What does the angel do here? He first recognizes that he knows where the shepherds are. By saying "Fear not," he knows they are afraid. Likewise, we are to never hesitate confessing to God exactly where we are, or how we are thinking or feeling. He knows it anyway and loves us anyway. Confessing is good, and I think, necessary. But it doesn't get rid of the fear.

So don't stop there.

The angel didn't stop with the words "Fear not." He then filled the shepherds' minds with truth.  He told them about the good news, great joy, the Savior, the baby and the manger.

That's our pattern for dealing with fear!

Tell God when you are afraid.
Fill your mind with truth. And the best truth out there is God's word. Have some "go to" verses memorized that you can draw on at a moment's notice when fear grips you unexpectedly.

One of my favorites is about as basic as it gets. I'm confessing where I am, and reminding myself of the truth that I can trust God.

Sometimes I have to say this over and over to myself just to get a grip on myself. But God is so faithful. He meets me. He helps me - His word helps me.

And for me, today, that truth is my own little bit of good news of great joy.

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