“The angel of the Lord said to her, “Do not be afraid.” Luke 1:30
Do you mark certain passages in your Bible? Can you highlight on your phone Bible app? I don’t know. I haven’t really read the Bible on my phone, even though I downloaded an app a few weeks ago so I could better relate to my younger mom friends! I’m just used to my “real” Bible! The one I can hold in my lap and underline with a real pen!
Lately I’ve been underlining the phrase that the angels kept saying right off the bat to the one they were sent to give a Godly message-“Do not be afraid.”
God sent the angel Gabriel to give Mary a very important, life-changing message and after he greeted her, he said, “Do not be afraid.” Mary was greatly troubled by this being suddenly appearing and talking directly to her. Troubled? I’d be so knotted up in fear I wouldn’t be able to respond. And the angel dares to tell her not to be afraid?
An angel appeared to Joseph, whom Mary was betrothed to be married, in a dream and the first words out of the angel’s mouth were, “Do not be afraid…..”
The angels in the heavens over the shepherds the night Mary had her miraculous baby named Jesus were also told not to be afraid.
Something totally unexpected happens in the life of these people and they are told not to be afraid. Right. Of course they were afraid. Startled. Terrified. Perfectly human response!
But I’m thinking that the reason for the admonition to be unafraid is that once their adrenaline died back down to normal so they could think, they were encouraged to consider the message. Yes, it was clearly unorthodox. Mary was told she was going to have a baby but not from Joseph and not from any other man. Joseph was to take Mary, knowing she was pregnant but not by him but by a Holy Spirit, whatever that was. The shepherds were told to go worship the Messiah who was just born as a baby in a feed trough there in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had to rely on what they knew from their Jewish teaching that Jehovah was indeed their God and they were to trust in Him and how He was moving.
Later, when Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples on the night of the Passover meal, He told them “when I go away the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Then He said to them,
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:25-27
This passage is not only underlined but held close to my heart. I have to return to this passage over and over because the enemy likes to tell me otherwise.
To so many of us, including me, this seems to be the season of “get it all done as soon as you can while still maintaining some semblance of normalcy in the home;” or, the season of “I must do something tangible for everyone I know right now so they’ll think nice of me and because this is what we do at this time of year only.”
Somewhere along the way, the “Should-a finger” begins to wag. You know, that ugly nagging old finger; the enemy uses the “should-a finger” when we crash in to bed at the end of a very busy day and the “should-a finger” begins to accuse. You should-a done it this way-the way you saw it done on Pintrest or the way your friend does it- her decorating, her baking, her outdoor decorations, and those lovely Christmas cards of all the family dressed exactly alike and smiling. How DID they get that baby to smile on cue???
The world, including a whole lot of well-meaning Believers, gets caught up in all the hoop-la. They just have to decorate, send out cards, bake, all while carrying on the normal routine of their lives. When you enter their inner world, their bedroom, their closet, their kitchen, their heart, you’ll see cracks and crevices of not-put-togetherness. Trust me.
And that’s when I have to run to my treasure trove of Scripture such as the one in Isaiah 26:3.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trust in Thee.”
Perfect peace. His peace. That peace He promised that would not look like the world.
Yes, I have to make the conscious decision to move away from the accuser and in to the Truth of what Jesus promised. To the Word. And truly, I’m put at ease when I dwell on Jesus. That’s what He wants us to do! He is not a religion! He is not a plastic or ceramic baby doll in a manger at this busy season. He’s real and wants us to trust in the promise of His peace. So I do. And experience the reality of His peace.
So what does leaning in to the perfect peace of Jesus look like?
On Wednesday evening a couple of moms and their children came over for chili and cornbread. I had stressed over having enough for whoever came, thinking surely more were coming. They just had not taken the time to let me know. But once the moms came, in my spirit I gave the evening entirely over to the Lord. What He had in mind was exactly what transpired. Time with a couple of moms who needed to pour out their heart; and time to pray. No frills, gifts, or fanfare.
Listen. All the extra giving and card giving and crafts and baking are not bad in or of themselves. But all this can be distracting us from focusing on who Jesus is and why He came. Distractions are definitely one of the enemy’s greatest tricks. The enemy also delights in posing as the “should-a finger” causing in us that over wrought feeling of not accomplishing all that should be done at this season.
“Don’t be afraid to simplify. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart and……be thankful” Colossians 3:15.
Thankful for the reason we go crazy at this time of year. Take a few minutes each day and say, “Lord, I lean in to Your peace today. I choose to rely on You this day. Help me to rest in You no matter what. Thank you, Lord!” Then, you’ll be a blessing to those around you as you experience His peace. It will come over you in a beautiful profound way. I guarantee it.
Do not be afraid to lean in to the Father this year.
Do not be afraid to let go of those things that really aren’t important.
Do not be afraid to say no. Not this year.
Do not be afraid to give thanks; out loud; multiple times a day!
Do not be afraid to give out smiles and hugs and love to others.
Do not be afraid to receive. Do not be afraid to give.
To Him be the glory. Amen.