... “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
I stopped short and thought how I have read that verse as long as my memory serves. I have always read it in context of a conversation the angels had with the shepherds on Christmas night. For those of you not familiar with the story, Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph in a barn. They were stuck in those accommodations because they were traveling and every inn was full in which they tried to find a room. Mary gave birth in a barn with no other help or witness than Joseph and some filthy livestock. However, Christ's birth was not going to go without a tremendous announcement. God wanted His son to be known! Angels appeared to the shepherds in the nearby hills. They were overwhelmed by a chorus of angels announcing His arrival. Because of the unfathomable entrance the angels made, the first thing they told the simple men was "Do not be afraid." Makes sense. They didn't want the men to panic. They needed them to pay attention so they wouldn't miss the message. They were told to go find the baby, lying in a manger, wrapped in cloth. They heard the message and obeyed (now you know why in the nativity scene there is some random guy with a sheep slung over his shoulder).
Anyway, when I read those words this time, they struck me different. Simply reading "Do not be afraid" brought on a different meaning. While this was a conversation the angels had with the shepherds, the message conveyed more to me when I read it. Quite simply, we aren't made for fear. God didn't send His son, Jesus, for us to be scared. He came for us to free from that fear. He came to free us from this ugly, evil, sad world. He came to fulfill a promise. To give us hope. That hope should give us courage. I think sometimes our fear prevents us from hearing His message. He has so much to say....so many good things that He wants for us. But, we are distracted with all of our perceived needs, wants, and emotions, that we miss all of His tremendous blessings. When we are afraid it paralyzes us. It affects everything. Relationships suffer when we are afraid. We aren't generous when we are scared. We don't trust others. We don't extend ourselves and invest in others or situations that would benefit from our giftings. Our insecurities cripple us. And when we are in this state, we feel forsaken, alone, and the fear compounds. We panic.
On top of where our fear leaves us emotionally...and physically...it also prevents us from hearing His message. So many have asked me over the years if my God is so great, where is He? You need only look as far as your heart. If He's not there, I'm betting something else is. Likely it's filled with other stuff that you are clinging to: anger, resentment, old hurts, memories, grief, pain, selfishness, pride, a lie or two, regrets, guilt, jealousy....fear. The list likely goes on. Try replacing those things with Christ. Jesus will free us from those things that cripple us. He loved us enough to come here and save each and every one of us. If our hearts are filled with Him there isn't room for the other junk.
Faith can seem so overwhelming and complicated sometimes. I've talked with many this year that just don't know where to start. I'm not going to go on and on...even though I could. For now... this Christmas, my prayer is that we would all take the first step and cling to hope in Christ. Try to "not be afraid" and hear His message. All of it.
With love and Gratitude.....
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tiding of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.