Saturday, September 7, 2013

I was too afraid to move.

I've spoken off and on without any details about the move here. It was a hard time, and it shouldn't have been. I have had hard moves before and kept functioning. I kept my head above the water. But this time I sunk a little. I sunk into the fears.

I can't blame anyone for my reaction to events, and I don't even want to begin to point fingers. In fact, I can't really tell you how I got to that point, but I know I got there. I know I wasted at least a year being frozen.

I allowed fears to keep us from getting involved in the first church we joined, really becoming a part of a group of amazing women, and I shut down most of my heart at the same time. I had opportunities to grow, and learn, and love but I lost those. I gave them up because I was afraid I would be hurt, no one would really like me, I couldn't trust anyone, God didn't really know what He was doing, and a multitude of other fears. Sometimes it's not just one, and sometimes we get overwhelmed no matter the number.

Do you know what finally started bringing me out of it? Or at least one thing, but I know there were changes made intentionally at that time. Someone dear to me was verbally attacked. Someone whom I knew the words would stick with if I didn't finally stand up and do something. But I had to step up to a great fear in order to do so.

What happened before and as a result still breaks my heart. I will never be thrilled with any part of that time period. Everyone has moved on, and things I feared did happen, but I protected the one who needed it. I did the right thing, as scary as it was. And when I faced that fear I was able to start facing more of them.

Please know, even as I write about this subject I am learning every week. I will always fight some type of fear. I think many people do, after all that is when we are courageous. But we can remember that God is on our side.

I was frozen by fear and couldn't move. It wasn't until I realized I needed to do something important that I was able to fight the fear and start seeing and hearing again.

The Fear is Overwhelming

Luke 2:10
But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all people.”

Have you ever been so encompassed by fear that you could not focus on what was going on. Anger has the same effect on us when we are so in the middle of it all. Our heart rate is so loud and high it’s all we can hear in our ears, our eyes lose focus and we search for an escape, and our mind isn’t hearing, much less comprehending anything that is happening. Panic does these things to us, and that is why the angel’s first job was to relieve the fears of the shepherds.

As I did my research on this passage there were a couple of thoughts regarding the shepherds. The common theme and reminder I found was that they were of a lesser class. Shepherds were looked down upon by other Israelites because they could not follow ceremonial law due to their job, and also considered thieves. But there were a few commentaries who were sure these men were virtuous and Godly, for why else would an angel come to them.

I would challenge that thinking. I don’t think it matters who the shepherds were or what their hearts were like. That was the message the angels brought. It would be for “all people” and whether that refers to only the Israel Nation at this point or the entire world, the shepherds and all the others looked down on were included.

When the angel had finished his message, when the angels had finished their proclamation, when the angels returned to Heaven, the shepherds then had a choice. They had heard, and they understood, and so now what would they do?

Would they stay with the sheep, after all that was their job. Would they sit and discuss it quietly around the fire? Would they look at each other and sit motionless and say nothing thinking it was just a long night and they were all tired? No, the men had not been awakened, and they were fully alert when it began. There was no mistaking this for a dream. And they did discuss around the fire what their next action would be. And they decided to do as the angels bid them do. They searched out the baby in the manger.

The angels came with a message of good news. When the shepherds saw that it was indeed as the angels had said they rejoiced, shared the information, and then returned to their sheep as they continued to praise God. No matter who they were or what they were doing before the angel came into their night, they were God-fearing, God-worshiping, God-loving men by the time morning came.

Question 1: There are events in our life which will cause us to fear. Things will happen we have no control of, and our hearts will beat hard. But when we are so encompassed by that fear we no longer have the ability to function properly. I challenge you the next time you feel fear wrapping its way around your heart that you remember the story of the shepherds. Something may be happening you need to be aware of. Let go of the fear and focus.

Question 2: What is our response? When we have been told something do we simply hear and go on with our life, or does it affect who we are? Does it change what we do? I want to be like the shepherds and allow good news to change who I am. Do you?

Dear Heavenly Father
You came so that we might have life
So often fear gets the better of us
Help us release it
So that we can walk where you would have us

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Shepherds' Fear

They were men toughened by their job and the attitudes of others towards them. They were men watching the night, keeping the sheep safe. They may have been paid. They may have been thieves. They may have been virtuous. Maybe in the middle of their watch they would look up to the stars and wonder about the God of which they had heard. Maybe their mind would wander to the majesty of nature around them and they would consider the Creator of it all. Maybe they simply counted the sheep every hour to make sure none had gone astray.

But suddenly their dark night sky was lit up by an angel. I can imagine the sheep going quiet and huddling together as the glory of the Lord shone. And the men, hardened and tough, became very much afraid due to who stood above them. Were they scared because of their sins? Were they afraid someone was coming to condemn them finally? Were they simply scared because an angel was in front of them? Whatever they were afraid of the angel’s first words were to bring them calm.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

And in that moment the shepherds released their fear so they could hear what this messenger had to say, understand it, and eventually respond to it.

Luke 2 10

Luke 2:10

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (NIV)
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide" (The Message)
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. (Amplified)

bring good news - euangelizo - to preach the good news, often with a focus on the content of the message which is brought

joy - chara - joy, rejoicing, happiness, gladness

Reformation Study Bible
- shepherds were a despised class because their work prevented them from keeping the ceremonial law, and as they moved about the country it was common for them to be regarded as thieves. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give evidence in courts

Matthew Henry
- The patriarchs were shepherds. Moses and David particularly were called from keeping sheep to rule God's people.
- they were broad awake, and therefor could not be deceived in what they saw and heard, so as those may be who are half asleep
- We are not out of the way of divine visits when we are sensibly employed in an honest calling, and abide with God in it.
- This made them sore afraid, put them into great consternation, as fearing some evil tidings,. While we are conscious to ourselves of so much guilt, we have reason to fear lest every express from Heaven should be a messenger of wrath.
- When Christ was here on earth, he distinguished himself, and made himself remarkable, by nothing so much as the instances of this humiliation.

Jamieson - Fausset - Brown
- So it ever was, men have never felt easy with the invisible world laid suddenly open to their gaze. It was never meant to be permanent, a momentary purpose was all it was intended to serve

John Calvin
- And so the reprobate fall down lifeless at the sight of God, because he appears to them in no other character than that of a judge. But to revive the minds of the shepherds, the angel declares that he was sent to them for a different purpose, to announce to them the mercy of God