Read this when you are Locked Down and Afraid
The theme has come up often in the last few days about what it takes to overcome fears and to have confidence. In fact, this theme comes up all the time for us humans. We can observe within ourselves that tendencies to be full of life and have gleaming moments of assertion for our passions. Then all of a sudden, we want to lock it all down and nurse our fears to the point where we are almost ashamed for dreaming, trying, believing, or daring something new.
As a communicator, I have the joy and challenge to bring thoughts, experiences, and deep convictions to the moral fiber of others who look to me to lead, teach, live authentically, and help bring the meaning and purpose of the Gospel to a place where there is a connection with God.
In this role, I take a lot of risks.
It's a risk to invite others into what has worked in the past and to not repeat what had bottomed out in failure. It's a risk to read Scripture and bring your understanding with hope that God has informed you to the point it helps, nurtures, and may invite others to the point that it bring transformation by their decisions and God working.
It is a risk to be more exposed than others on a weekly basis and to stand with resolve and conviction that what is being brought out to the masses are words, intentions, and promises not dependent upon yourself, but upon the God you obediently serve.
For this, I have enjoyed a deep connection with God. Along with amazing moments of breakthrough with longtime friends and strangers. Deep personal pain when others have intentionally sought to bring me and my family harm instead of a desire to bring peace. Have felt the spiritual target on my back as well as the verbal one. Prayed and seen healing, prayed and seen spiritual affliction cease to exist in others, and have had the joy to see the failures of my life be turned into the greatest lessons to bring deeper compassion and mercy.
But, like the Disciples, I have had moments of being locked down and afraid
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders...
Considering that for them, the entire world they had seen and heard promised by Christ seemed to have taken a terrible detour, it was no wonder this was their response. How many times have we stepped out in faith only to find that we have stepped on a lego in the dark?
It hurts, it can pierce, and it can bring us doubt that we ever heard God at all. Yet, we need to declare that this is NORMAL in this fallen world.
That we need to consider
"We are not outside of blessing when we encounter adversity."
Adversity was promised by Jesus himself and in the dark that evening there was no light that they could see out of this locked down and fearful place. This place where there was assured persecution for their faith.
Assured risk for their boldness just days before. Yet, they were exactly where they needed to be after such obedience. This is were you will be as well if you follow such a path of faith and trust, even if the way is littered with legos in the dark.
But let us be quick to understand that we are not in this place alone. We are in the perfect place to experience what happened next for the disciples to happen to us!
...Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Consider that if you are in a place Locked down and Afraid then you are in a place of invitation for Jesus to come and stand amongst you. That what he first seeks to declare over your fear, your locked down state is PEACE.
I find it a great comfort that what God first seeks to bring through the Son is peace. Not judgement, not shame, not a list of accusations for failures or mistakes. But peace in the sense that there is restored relationship with God and us.
What is more is that not only peace to calm our fears, or to bring us to a place of palatable promise that what we are in will not destroy us, he demonstrates to us that He is capable to overcome all that we are in with his power and love.
We are invited to also examine the scars on his side, the pierced palms. They signal to us that Jesus is able to overcome the world as well as the world of fear within us. The presence of Jesus brought his followers from a place of fear to joy. How can we bring what worries us or what we fret over to encounter this peace and joy?
It was enough that evening that the Lord was with them and they were not abandoned to outcomes beyond God's reach and care. It should be the same for you and I.
How are you locked down and afraid? Has Christ been invited into that space? Does his presence make a difference? What does it do to the outlook of your fears to examine that the scars are there for you to life a life of peace and joy?
I pray that if you are threatened to be anything less than confident and assured in the days ahead that you can be assured that this adversity is not outside of blessing.
Keep Looking Up!