He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”Genesis 3:10 MSG
Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”Genesis 18:15 MSG
The men of the place questioned him about his wife. He said, “She’s my sister.” He was afraid to say “She’s my wife.” He was thinking, “These men might kill me to get Rebekah, she’s so beautiful.”Genesis 26:7 MSG
Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.Exodus 3:6 MSG
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”Matthew 14:27 MSG
Afraid, Adam hid in the garden. Afraid, Sarah hid the truth behind a lie. Afraid, Isaac hid his marriage to save his own life. Afraid, Moses hid his face from the truth of God’s light.
Fear makes us drape fig leaves over our shameful parts. It sends us into hiding. It makes us withdraw. It puts distance between us and the one we are afraid of.
Maybe we’re afraid of the consequences of our past actions. Maybe we’re afraid of judgment. Maybe we’re afraid of pain. Maybe we’re afraid of being found out for who we really are.
As advent comes to fulfillment on Christmas day, it announces this truth: You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
The incarnate Christ closes the gap that fear creates and fills it with love. We celebrate love on the fourth Sunday of advent.
Once Christ has come, there’s only space for the fruit of that Spirit now, fruit that begins with love and pours out joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The coming Christ’s love sweeps away shame and embarrassment and declares, I know you. I have called you by name. I have redeemed you. You are mine. (Isaiah 43:1 NIV)
And you are worthy. Worthy of love, worthy to be called children of God.
Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 14:18 NIV). There’s no room left for fear once love has arrived. Instead of punishment, God gives acceptance. Instead of separation and distance, God sends his Son, Emmanuel, which means “God With Us.” He’s a God so close that he abides with us, takes up residence with us, moves into the neighborhood with us. He sees past our shame, our mistakes, our blame, our shadow places and finds the light that’s always been in you, that you God made in God’s own image. His light illuminates that space and calls you out from behind the fig leaves of fear to live in the freedom of his love.
With no room left for fear, what can separate us from the love of God? “…nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Romans 8:38-39 MSG).
Discard the fig leaves. Stand in love.
Points of Reflection
- What fear stands in the way between you and God’s love for you?
- Identify one fear you have. What would your life look like if God’s love stood in the place of that fear?
For the Kids
- Why were the characters in today’s Bible verses afraid?
- What makes you afraid?
- How does God’s love conquer fear?
Our fears can clog up our ability to experience peace and love. As an act of surrender, write down on scraps of paper the things you are afraid of. Maybe it’s an illness. Maybe it’s being deserted or left alone. Maybe it’s circumstances beyond your control, like war, political tension, or violence in your community. Maybe it’s the loss of life or the loss of a loved one. Write them all down and then let them all go. If you have a fireplace or an outdoor firepit, toss them into it. Let go of your fears and invite God’s love in this advent.
I recently finished reading the young adult novel, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, a heart wrenching story of a 12-year-old who is the sole survivor of a plane crash and the years following that crash. Dear Edward addresses the searing pain of trauma, mourning, and loss and what there is left to live for when everything you love has been taken away. It is about overcoming fear and the power of love to carry us forward.
Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon.com or through a local independent bookstore near you.