Baggage Claim Devotion
Fear – John 3:1-17
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
This morning, my son read to me his sixth-grade speech based on a prompt about his favorite hero. As a surprise, he chose me, which of course made me cry. He shared the story of my journey with cancer, being a pastor in a large church and still being a mom. While I was flattered, and felt a surge of pride, it also made me reflect.
For me, walking the journey of cancer became, in the end, an unexpected gift. Hear me out. It was not something God gave me, and I would rather not have myself or anyone receive this diagnosis. But for some reason, as I realized that regardless of my fear of what lay ahead, I had to take this journey. I made the decision I would try to be all in with God until we found our way to the other side. If you heard my sermon on Sunday, I spoke about the words from a counselor who taught me about fear when I was a young adult. She shared how fear can be a healthy tool to keep us safe from real physical and emotional threats. However, it can also become something that holds us back and stunts our growth. We need to decide where fear rides in the car with us, she said to me. With my diagnosis, I wanted desperately to surrender to fear and let it take the driver’s seat, and I just crawl up in the back seat for a ride. But through the prayers and support of others and all I had been taught through the years, I decided on a different option. It wasn’t easy. Some days it was hard to be faithful, but I knew deep in my heart that everything in my faith journey before the diagnosis was preparing me for those moments in the darkness. I knew in my head, and my heart, as darkness fell each time I had chemo or multiples surgeries, if I trusted and was faithful God would bring the light. I chose to lock fear in the trunk and drive forward, trusting in the love and power of God to see me through whatever the journey would bring.
I do not believe that was heroic (although I appreciate my son’s label for me). I believe I was taught by preachers, parents, and Sunday school teachers, this is how a disciple lives in the truth Jesus revealed to Nicodemus on that dark night. Jesus told him seeing the kingdom comes as we allow ourselves to be born from above. Everything in Nicodemus’ life was preparing him to let go of the safety net of the 613 rules and the fear of risk to fully come into the light and live. Not as a hero with any extra super power, but into a maturity which allows us access to the real power of the Holy Spirit and God’s love. What has your faith been preparing you for where maybe you are allowing fear to hold you back? How does fear keep us from growing in ways that embrace the true power of the Holy Spirit and God’s love in our lives? As you spend time in study and prayer over Nicodemus’ story, may God begin to help you loosen your grip on the baggage of fear.
Grace and Peace,