This prayer by Scotty Smith is vvery appropriate for the things I have been pondering recently. Tomorrow night, I will go before the students at my church and share my story. I will tell them about my experiences with dating, my fear of man, and how God brought me to the place I am today. As I read over old journal writings of mine and Bible studies that highlight times of my enlightenment during the past few years, my mind is on these things. How much more timely can you be, Scotty Smith??
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
Gracious Lord Jesus, you confront us with the liberating command, “Do not be afraid”, at both your birth and your resurrection (Luke 2:10; Matt. 28:5). Like bookends of glory… the A to Z of grace… a morning and evening kiss. There is no savior as merciful and mighty as you.Ever since our first parents sinned, feared, and then hid, I’ve helped to keep the family tradition alive. At times fear has more power over my life than your love. Though I know I’m already clothed in your righteousness, I still reach into the closet for fresh fig leaves. So I join the shepherds today in coming to you, for you alone bring the good news of great joy for which my heart longs every day. You alone can charm my fears and grant me an ever greater freedom. Because the gospel is true, I can tell you everything that’s going on inside of me. As I come to you, you run to me. I am so thankful for your pursuing and welcoming heart.Lord Jesus, my fears aren’t all that noble. I’m not really afraid of angelic hosts. I’m not really afraid to die. I’m not even afraid of facing the final judgment, for I humbly cling to your cross as my Judgment Day. You have exhausted God’s judgment against all my sins—past, present, and future. Hallelujah… many times over!So what fears haunt me? For what fears do I need to obey the command “Do not be afraid”? I’ll start with the fear of man. Jesus, there are some people whose praise or disdain has more functional power over my heart than the gospel does. It hurts to say that, but it’s true. By the power of the gospel, continue to slay the “approval suck” inside of me. I also have moments when I fear painful things happening to members of my family. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that you love and care for my family much more than I do. They belong to you by creation and redemption. Grant me grace to trust you more.Then there’s the fear of disappearing into a fog bank of not mattering anymore—of getting older, being out of touch, becoming irrelevant. Jesus, even as I acknowledge this fear, I praise you for your non-condemning gaze. It’s not easy to confess such weakness. May the joy of being used by you never supersede the much greater joy of simply being known by you and loved by you.Jesus, I have other fears in line for gospel charming, and I bring them to you today with joy and confidence. For you’re no longer a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger; you’re a Savior outside an empty tomb, exalted to the right hand of the Father, ever living to advocate and pray for me, preparing a place and a banquet for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So very Amen I pray in your welcoming and liberating name.