Legitimate, but unnecessary fear

Thoughts on Matthew 28:8-15

The Mary’s went to the tomb, just to be at the place where the one they loved lay buried. The shock of an earthquake, the fright of an angel descending, the power of the rolled stone, the awe of an empty tomb, the hope of their loved one’s resurrection being true, the job of passing the message on to the other disciples, no wonder they quickly departed with fear and great joy.

They obeyed and you met them. There’s a lesson here for me. When given a word or a work to accomplish by the Holy Spirit, I am to set to the task. The work will arouse fear and joy within me, as any God-given assignment should. Fear because the work is beyond me, I will need to depend upon you to get it done. Joy because I get to do it! You’ve chosen me to be your hands and mouth, what a privilege.

I’ve found this principle true regardless of the size of the task. I’m a city mouse transplanted to the country and the idea of planting a garden ignites great fear and insecurity within me; I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I could do it all wrong.

I am called to capture your work with my words, again fear and insecurity; I don’t have anything worth saying, it’s all been said before by much more eloquent and wise people.

IMG_4529In both situations joy emerges as I obey. The delight in clearing a space of weeds, so daffodils can emerge; the satisfaction that comes from pushing the publish button on my blog; all I’m responsible for is to do as I’ve been asked, the fruit is your job. My garden and my heart are transformed through such obedience. I remind myself that joy is a fruit of the spirit, it cannot be manufactured, only grown. Tend your garden, dear Jesus.

You met the Mary’s with the words, “Do not be afraid.” My fear at the assignment is legitimate, but not necessary. When doing what you’ve asked of me, in partnership with you, there is no need for fear. I cannot fail, I cannot be defeated, I will not be shamed. I can confidently go about the business I’ve been given. Heck, you turned death into victory. It is not beyond your ability to transform my attempts at weeding and writing into things of beauty and truth. So be it.

Thank you and amen.


The Lord Appears

Several trusted friends had spoke of meeting the risen Lord. As the gathered and confused disciples were discussing this, Jesus himself stood in their midst. Peace, he spoke to calm their fear; and proof he showed to convince them that the rumors were true, he was indeed alive.

“Still they stood there in disbelief filled with joy and wonder.” (v41) They must have been in shock. Jesus alive? It seemed too good to be true. Their heads couldn’t take in what their joyful hearts already had received. (The heart often recognizes truth before our mind can grasp it.) So Jesus reminded them that the words spoken by the law, the prophets and Jesus himself were now fulfilled. As he taught them, their minds opened and caught up with what their hearts had already believed.

Jesus gave them an assignment, they were to give witness to what they had seen and experienced; and he gave a promise of supernatural power to accomplish the work. With minds equipped, hearts full of joy, and a job to do, they worshipped the risen Lord.

  • How do you dismiss or doubt other people’s experience of Christ?
  • What fear are you experiencing? Jesus wants to speak peace to your heart.
  • When have you known something to be true, even if the evidence suggests otherwise? How did you handle this incongruity?

Your assignment is to share with your “Jerusalem” what you have experienced in your relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit will clothe you in power and joy.

Luke 24:36-53

Written for Community Bible Church’s weekly devotion.

The Lord lives

When Jesus died, hope died; it was buried along with him in Joseph’s tomb. Sorrow, indignation and doubt blinded the two friends as they walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The death shroud that had so recently held Jesus still covered their eyes. Jesus was alive with them but they were consumed with their own story and so intent on talking about Jesus they missed an opportunity to talk with him.

It was in the breaking of the bread that life returned to their sorrowing eyes and grieving hearts. At last they recognized Jesus. He was with them even as they walked in the blindness of doubt.

  • In what areas of your life has hope died?
  • Who is your friend that shares your sorrow?
  • Jesus is walking with you right now, what keeps you from recognizing him?

Let us learn from the error of these two friends, stop talking about Jesus and instead talk to him. And let us follow their example, when Jesus gives clarity about an issue or reassurance of the truth, let us rush to share it with our friends.

Luke 24:13-21,28-35

Written for Community Bible Church’s weekly devotion.

Do you have trust issues?

The thought of the blessedness we hope for, of the love our Lord bore us, and His resurrection, kindle within us a joy which is neither wholly spiritual nor wholly sensual; but the joy is virtuous, and the sorrow is most meritorious.
St. Teresa of Avila

Return to Innocence
Raise the dead: animate and reenergize what once was alive

(part one of four)

Jesus sent his twelve disciples off on a missionary journey with the instruction and the authority to “Raise the dead.” (Matthew 10:7,8) The good news of salvation brings us the ultimate resurrection, “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) We will be alive forever. Resurrection, though, is not just for the hereafter, it begins now. Currently God is in the process of bringing back to life the various parts of our true self that have been killed off. He is resurrecting our innocence.

Our innocence – the pure state into which we were born, without guile and agenda. As infants we assumed good would come to us to meet our needs, we didn’t need to manipulate or coerce our provision and/or protection. Basically we trusted. Trust is the essence of innocence.

Sadly, our innocence and our trust has been mortally wounded.  How many times have you said or heard it said, “I have trust issues.”

Yet, we still trust. Trust is our default. Our problem is not whether or not we will trust, it is who and what we will trust.

Trust is the assumption that the other you are in relationship with intends your good, will provide your needs and offer you protection. We are born trusting but life quickly teaches us that we cannot trust completely.

Eliza, my granddaughter loved her sweet potatoes. As an infant, she’d eagerly open her mouth anticipating the next bite of the delicious treat. One day the babysitting instructions I received from her mom was to introduce peas to her diet. She sat in her high chair expecting the usual and desired sweet potatoes. Her reaction to peas in the spoon rather than sweet potatoes was quick and definite. She screwed up her face in shock, spit out the peas and then refused to open her mouth for the next bite.

What once had always provided her a known pleasure suddenly delivered an unknown displeasure. The spoon was now suspicious. Would it contain the desired sweet potatoes or the dreaded peas? Her recent experience taught her to distrust the spoon and her mouth remained closed.

Like Eliza, we have learned the spoon is not trustworthy; shutting our mouth to the spoon we put our trust in our closed mouths. Experience taught us that we needed to be wary of the other. We began to build a relational style of operating that included guardedness and doubt. We learned fear. Fear is the opposite of trust.

The good news, though, is that if fear is learned, it can be unlearned!

More about this in part two of Return to Innocence.

(This material is based on the Shaped at the Garden Retreat. For information about this retreat, contact me or visit the upcoming events page.)