So I Was Afraid
Fear may be seen as having faith in the enemy. Fear can hold us enthralled, imprisoned. Paralyzed by the “what-ifs” and “maybes,” we decide we would rather be safe than sorry and shrink from challenge and the opinions of others. With the gift of life comes responsibility and risk. To accept that responsibility moves us from a comfortable but unimaginative existence to the great adventure of the Christian life.
The diaries of Etty Hillesum, the young Dutch woman who died in Auschwitz, tell the story of her deepening faith and courage. Once, when she received an exemption from being sent to a concentration camp, she wrote, “I want to be sent to every one of the camps that lie scattered all over Europe, I want to be at every front, I don’t ever want to be what they call ‘safe.’ ”
Do you have a buried talent? Do you have an idea for a song, a painting, a project? How about a recurring notion to start a food pantry? Sometimes we see our talents, longings, and desires as wishful thinking, mere fantasy. Yet our desire may be God’s desire for us as well.
What would it be like to trust that the thing you long to do is what God wants you to do as well? What would it be like to stop thinking of your heart’s desire as impossible but rather as totally possible through God’s power? What if you believed that God put the notion in your head in the first place? What then?
Ah, what fun we would all have! How the angels would laugh! How the realm of God would rush in like a sky full of geese winging their way into the morning sun!
God, give me the courage to be all you have created me to be. Teach me to love you more than my own comfort. Amen.
Like us, the Israelites struggle to be consistently faithful to God. God therefore allows a foreign king to rule them until the people come to their senses and cry out for help. The prophet Deborah gives instructions for the battle that will begin the deliverance of the people. The readings from Psalms and Zechariah demonstrate that this pattern of unfaithfulness and restoration has occurred frequently in the history of God’s people. In Thessalonians, Paul echoes what Jesus says in last week’s Gospel reading: We must always be prepared for the return of Christ because we do not know when it will occur. God gives us resources to use for the kingdom, and in Matthew Jesus indicates that God will ask for an account of how well we have used them.
Read Judges 4:1-7. Who has been a judge—someone who helps you discern—in your life? How can you help others discern the way?
Read Psalm 123. How do you focus on God through conflict and struggle?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. When have you encouraged someone in a time of darkness? When have you been the one in need of encouragement?
Read Matthew 25:14-30. What would change if you considered your dreams and desires as from God? What first step can you take to enact your desires?
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