Saturday, May 11, 2013
With Fear and Great Joy
With Fear and Great Joy
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Fear had obviously gripped the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the one they had been following, had been crucified. Now, he was dead in a tomb.
It was the women who went out to check on his body. Matthew says it was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. When they arrived at the tomb an angel was present. The first thing the angel said was, "Do not be afraid." After they received the message from the angel, they took off to tell the other disciples what the angel had told them...that Jesus is alive! And so they take off with great joy, but also with fear.
Just as they are leaving the garden they run into another man. It is Jesus who greets them and again tells me not to be afraid for he is alive! And so again they depart to share the good news about Jesus.
As I read this today I thought about how many times in life I have stepped out in fear, with great joy. Somehow the two ought not to go together, and yet, we can understand the feelings of these two women.
Why were they afraid? Because everything they had known, everything they were banking on had suddenly disappeared. Not only that, but the man that they were following, the one they trusted and loved had been deemed a criminal. What did that mean for any of those associated with him? As women he had given them more freedom than they had ever experienced but now he was gone. What would happen to them? Did they have a home to which they could return? Would anyone take them in? How would they survive? There was plenty to be afraid of!
And isn't it amazing how God always knows our deepest need! Jesus had risen from the dead and everything in the world was going to change and yet, what did the angel say to the women; "Do not be afraid." In the midst of the greatest miracle of all time God had the angel speak to the personal need of those two women. They were terrified!
They were comforted by the words of the angel and they took off to share that news with the disciples. However, they left with fear and great joy. I know I've been in that place when I have experienced great joy, knowing that God was in the midst of doing something amazing, and yet, on a personal level being fearful. I will never forget the night that Dr. Robert Scott, then head of the World Mission Dept. for the Church of the Nazarene asked Chuck and me to pray about moving to Russia to begin the work there. We walked the streets of Fort Worth, TX with fear and great joy. There was a sense of joy and excitement that God would actually call us to do something that was so much larger than us. This was huge...but on the human level, we were scared. There was so much that was unknown. How would we live? Would our little girls be safe? Would we be safe? Would there be persecution? Would there be those who would be open to the gospel? And so a few months later we took off with fear, and great joy.
The women were joining into something much larger than themselves. Yes, there was still some fear, but it wasn't the original fear they had that morning. That fear had been replaced with great joy and a fear of the unknown future. And then, right in the middle of that new fear, Jesus walked in, and told them not to be afraid. He was confronting the new fear for now they had been entrusted with the good news of his resurrection and no one knew the ramifications of this information. Jesus told them not to worry. He would be in the details. All they had to do was be obedient and share the news that they had been given, the plans for the future were up to him.
And so today we are simply invited into his story. We are told not to be afraid. The rug may have been pulled out from under us, but God is still in control and he will communicate with us at the point of our need. And this may be one of those days where we must step out with fear, and great joy.
Lord, lessons of trust are sometimes difficult, but help me to trust in you today, and in all things! Amen.