Do not be afraid

Hard to imagine the apostle Paul being afraid, but one night God took the time to come to him, through a vision, and encourage him not to be afraid.  He had just had an altercation with the Jewish people and had declared that he was leaving them and going to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.  There must have been something there that we are kept from because God had to take the time to build up Paul and ensure that he stayed right where he was and continue to do the mission he was called to do.  Fear is not a stranger to any of us.  Our encouragement has to be that we all fear, even Paul, and let’s continue to reach out to those who have never heard of God’s message of hope and redemption, confident that we walk with God as we do.

It does not mean we have to go on a conversion quest – but it does matter that we firm up our understanding of what our mission is and that we are doing it at the best of our ability, trusting God to move through us as we do.  It is scary to tell a co-worker about Jesus, we will face persecution of all kinds, people will not like us or accept us — but all that is OK when we are reminded that God knows what we are facing.  He also happens to know the heart of the person we are sharing the gospel with.  Regardless of their motives – God will come to us and encourage us through it all. We can hope in Him as we give knowing full well that we will be re-energized and refreshed.

 One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.”  – Acts 18:9-10

Tenth Avenue North – Afraid

Why are you afraid?

Fear – the one thing that we fear most, the one portal that allows the enemy to come in as an invited guest, the one emotion that none of us really want to experience.  We find that it cripples us from taking the right actions and it robs us of our trust and reliance on God.  So we embrace courage and faith, embracing God’s Word and accepting Him in truth and love finding our confidence to act on it with a firm hope in the promises made by Him.  God’s love gives us the strength to do so and empowers us to act with both justice and kindness towards our neighbour even if doing so means personal opposition or even harm.

The one fear illustration that captures me at my best is when Jesus is asleep in the boat in the midst of a storm.  Most of us want this experience that Max Lucado captures so well —

Wouldn’t you hope for a more chipper second sentence, a happier consequence of obedience? “Jesus got into a boat. His followers went with him and… suddenly…a great rainbow arched in the sky, a flock of doves hovered in happy formation, a sea of glass mirrored their mast…” Don’t Christ-followers enjoy a calendar full of Caribbean cruises? No. This story sends the not-so-subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. “In this world you will [not ‘might,’ ‘may‘ or ‘could’] have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33 brackets mine).

I love the fact that these disciples were the ones who took the first step in following Jesus.  The boat was filled with men of faith – they left their occupations, families and turned to being followers of Jesus in the most literal sense.  Yet there was one external circumstance that caused them to react in fear – a moment when they placed death as having dominion.  Jesus and they were as good as dead and they were without help or hope in the world.

Storms are the reality and they come when they come.  There will be blue skies but there will also be dark clouds.  They both should be reminders that our trust needs to be on God.  Setting our hopes on an illusion that we can be in control of everything one day, is just that, an illusion.  We will always have enough to keep us on our knees.  There will never be a day when we do not need to trust God who loves us so much.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

Why Are You Afraid?

Are You Afraid To Hope?

What are you afraid of?

Series: Holy Curiosity #2 – Why Are You Afraid?