Fear or Flight?
The plane shuddered as it taxied down the runway. My sister-in-law, Anne, was all geared up inside with her jumping suit and helmet. She managed a small smile and a nervous glance towards her dive instructor/buddy jumper as she heard the wheels click into place under the plane. This was it! The time was finally here! She was about to do what many of us woudn't do; dive out of a plane at 10,000 feet in the air! She checked her go-pro. This was one video she would keep forever!
As excited as she was about actually completing this bucket list jump, she had to admit that her excitement was mixed with a little fear. The jump was a birthday gift from her husband. She prayed it wouldn't be her last as she attached herself to her instructor, stood at the open door and took the plunge!
Fear. It's talked about 365 times in the Bible. That's a lot of times to adress a feeling we aren't supposed to have. The truth of the matter is we all experience fear at one time or another.
The enemy loves fear because it works in us the opposit of faith. It says in God's word, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1Peter 5:8 See the devil is like a toothless lion. He can roar and make a big scare. But he's a liar. Sometimes times fear works that way too. It is most always bigger and way scarier than what the object of the fear is. But sometimes it is not.
I think of Peter when Jesus was being taken away to be sentenced to death. He must have felt such an array of feelings. He was hurt. His Rabbi was being taken, his faith was being shaken. And when a little girl said, 'Look he's one of them!" He said she was mistaken.
He tried desperately to distance himself to no avail. "After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away." Matt. 26:73 It drove him to the end of himself because "Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed." Matt. 26:74
Peter who swore his undying love to Jesus, pretended not to know Him because he was afraid. What would they do to him? Would they throw him in jail? Stone him? They just might have.... I think of Peter and I wonder what would I do in his place? I don't know that I would fare any better.
Peter wasn't ready to take that plunge of faith that day. But Jesus helped him through his fear. He knew Peter would do that. He had told him so just hours before. "Truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." Matt 26:34 Jesus knew that Peter had some heart work to be done, and He knew He would help him through it.
I can imagine how Peter must have felt having given in to his fears. He probably thought he was unforgiveable for it. But that's not the heart of Christ. Peter was beloved of Jesus. As Peter's heart broke watching his friend, his teacher, his Lord, the man who was God being crucified, Jesus had a plan to restore him. Just as He died to bring forgiveness for us and all mankind, He rose and thought of Peter too.
The angel commanded the women at Jesus' empty grave, "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' Mark 16:7 Peter was being restored to fellowship with the disciples and most importantly, with Jesus. In God's family, no one gets left behind.
If you're afraid today, take heart. Listen to the words from the heart of your loving Lord. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
Just so you know, Anne landed in one piece, safe and sound. And that video..wow! All we saw was a big smile, teeth and gums flapping in the wind! Thankfully, we will have many more birthday celebrations to love her up as God wills!