[Part 2, Chapter 10]
Perhaps you’ve noticed many divine encounters are accompanied with “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.”
Divine encounters break in. In doing so, they challenge the way things are (or aren’t), bring change, and take us on a path as yet untravelled.
For most of us, that leads to uncertainty. For many of us, it escalates into fear.
Fear is debilitating. The more fearful we are, the tighter we cling. Often, the things we’re clinging to have long proved themselves unhelpful.
Before travelling to Hobart recently, I planned that one of my daily jogs would include crossing the Tasman Bridge. Driving across it on the way from the airport? Not too bad. Running over it the next day? Not too good. I felt the full 60 metres height.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed heights trouble me in a way they never used to when I was a kid. I’ve also noticed, the higher I get, the tighter I cling.
This is when fear becomes paralysing. It can prevent us from doing something we’ve keenly anticipated.
That’s fine if all there is in life is running over a bridge for fun. More concerning, is when it comes to moving forward in transparency and vulnerability into the opportunities placed before us. Instead of seeing change as a window for growth it becomes a cage that imprisons us.
We can only move forward with favour.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.’”
“You have found.” Past tense. Favour has been gifted to Mary. It has been deposited within her. This is the source of her identity.
You will come across that word a lot as you keep reading. Favour produces our true identity. You are a daughter. You are a son. You have a heavenly Father. He sees you as his beloved. The past tense “you have found favour with God” reminds and assures you that everything has already been done to gift you that identity.
In the midst of fear, we will cling. The invitation given is for us to cling to the favour deposited within us. We cling to the sonship he has gifted us.
But now thus says the Lord…
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…
Because you are precious in my sight,
and honoured, and I love you…
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.’”
(Isaiah 43:1-7, selected verses)