Two years ago today, I flew out of the Columbus, Ohio airport to Phoenix, Arizona. I didn't know what was in store for me.
The camps’ theme this summer is “God With Us” from Matthew 1:23
23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Because of this verse we had some Christmas decorations different places around campus. Sticking with this idea, part of my Bible lesson was from Luke 2:10-12
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. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
I talked about how if an angel came out of nowhere and started talking to you, you’d probably be terrified. Luckily, if it is good news, the angel (in most Bible stories) says, “Do not be afraid.”
Encounters with God can elicit fear. God may direct our lives in a way that is counter to the culture we live…
Genesis 6:14 …make yourself an ark… [even though it isn’t raining]
Genesis 12:1 …Go from your country, … to the land I will show you… [without directions]
Judges 6:14 …Go and save Israel… [with less men than the enemy]
Matthew 28:19 …go and make disciples of all nations… [without knowing how to make ends meet]
Receiving a command from God can be terrifying, especially if you just want to blend in and not be noticed. But God tells us to not be afraid … for he causes great joy…
If the shepherds had run away in fear, the story would be different, but Jesus would have still been born. God would have used someone else who was willing to be part of His story. Thankfully they didn’t fear, they listened to God. We must listen as well so we can receive the great joy promised for ALL the people… everyone.
The people of the time had been waiting a long, long, long time for the Savior to come. Many had an expectation in mind in how the Savior would come. What would be our expectation if we knew someone of great authority was coming? We would think helicopter, limousine, entourage, resort accommodations. When the shepherds arrived, they didn’t find their savior as some charismatic guy staying in a resort surrounded by bodyguards. They found Jesus lying in the manger. How was a baby going to be their savior?
Things don’t always go as we expect them to, but God is faithful and always delivers, it just may be WAY different than our expectation. When things don’t go as we imagine, we often complain. The shepherds didn’t leave the scene mumbling to themselves, they “returned, glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:17-20). We must do the same, even when God’s way isn’t in our timing or in the manner we expect.
We must not be afraid to listen to and obey God, and continue to glorify and praise Him!