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In the Christmas story, we see the angel quickly tell Mary to not be afraid. We then see the angels tell the shepherds right away to not be afraid. So many times throughout Scripture we see Jesus and His messengers tell people to not be afraid of what He is doing. If we lump all those instances together, the overwhelming truth is that fear is completely unnecessary and useless when God is in the house.
As I take my nightly walk through our neighborhood, and as it has finally gotten cold the past two weeks, I am totally alone with no one human anywhere in sight. I often walk past large stands of thick, wooded areas. Occasionally, I will suddenly hear what sounds like a large animal moving through the trees, crunching through piles of leaves on the ground.
The first time I heard this sound, I stopped and braced myself for a bear, cougar, or maybe (hopefully) a sasquatch. Then within a millisecond, my mind kicked in and I was reminded that those animals aren’t in this area …. much. So, in a split-second, I’m watching for a deer. Less stressful but scaring a buck this time of year ain’t exactly healthy.
But, that first time and every time since … thus far … the loud, crunching “steps” are that of a rabbit. Yep, a rabbit. Amazing how loud the leaves can make those critters sound huge. And he wasn’t even running toward me as my imagination demanded the first time. Actually, he was doing his best to get away from me ASAP.
In the Christmas story, what started out as great fear of an angel visitation turned out to be great news. On my nighttime walks, the initial reaction of fear turned into reality and then relief and even laughter. Which brings me to today’s point. How much of our fear day-in and day-out is not at all what our minds and hearts have dreamed up but rather just a “rabbit” running through our minds in all the piles of scattered thoughts that our chaotic lives have created. Making small harmless things seem like huge monsters.
Think for a moment back to January of this year. What were your biggest fears then, just 11 months ago? What did you “just know” was going to happen this year? What kept you up at night? What stressed you out during the day? What robbed your joy and your peace? Where is that “rabbit” now? Gone? Still there? Or a reality?
Did you eventually find out that God actually had a plan and you totally misread it for a while? How long did it take you to realize it was a rabbit? Or was it actually the monster you imagined it to be and it got you?
Maybe, just maybe, your greatest fear right now isn’t a beast running at you but a rabbit, just making a lot of noise as it runs away? Or could it be something that God is using to get your attention and good things will come from facing the fear? Only one way to find out. Follow Mary and the shepherds lead—look up and listen.
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! … Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen?” —Luke 1:29-30, 34 NLT
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. … When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” —Luke 2:9-10, 15 NLT