Have you ever stepped out into an unknown place, a place that you have never been before and maybe had seen pictures of before arriving, but you had never been to this place in person before? If you have, then you will understand the feelings that come from looking out into the future and having no idea what is to come – the unknown! There is a sense of excitement and anxiousness that can stir within us, but there is also a feeling of uncertainty and fear. Not having control or knowledge over our future can cause us to act out of fear rather than the confidence that Christ offers us. Read the rest of this section to understand more about what God can do in the times of uncertainty in our lives.
I can still very clearly remember my first day of high school. I was 1 of about 900 incoming freshman to my massive suburban high school. I was never really scared or nervous about making friends, because no matter how awkward I was I always seemed to find people to at least be with. But the confidence and hope that I had in making this new school a special place with many friends was destroyed in 4th period lunch. None of my friends from middle school had this same lunch hour with me, but I did not realize what that meant until I walked into the den of lions, also known as the café. It seemed as if every table and seat was filled, and that no one else was as lonely and isolated as me. Even the other freshmen had friends that they were sitting with. Ashamed, and afraid of admitting to my state of aloneness, I walked. I walked up and down the aisles of lockers surrounding the café. I would walk slowly, savoring every step when no one was near. I walked quickly avoiding eye contact when around large groups. I walk because it helped me to suppress the feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, and hopelessness. But the feeling that I could no longer suppress was the feeling of fear. I was so afraid of the rest of high school. Wondering if I would ever make friends, if this place could ever be one where I fit in. Wondering if I would ever find at least one person to eat with. I was so afraid of being alone in this new place. That was a feeling that I could not suppress.
Because I was so flustered by my first horrifying lunch experience, I missed my next class. I walked viciously through the halls, staring up at every room number with hope that it was where I was supposed to be. But after the class bell startled me, and the halls cleared, I decided to submit to the defeat that I felt. Sitting in the empty hallway of my new school I knew that from that moment forward nothing about this place was going to be the same as middle school.
I felt like a tower of Jenga blocks. Have you ever seen the game Jenga? It is a game using little wooden blocks that are stacked to make a tower. The purpose of the game is to remove the blocks in a strategic way so that the tower will remain stable. I felt like a tower of Jenga blocks, one that had just had one too many blocks removed. I was swaying. I was tipping and just about to fall over. Nothing felt right, nothing was secure, and I was just about to tip over. I knew that everything from this point on was unknown and out of my control, and that terrified me!
In this story, Jesus is speaking with his disciples, preparing them for the time when he will leave them. The disciples were the people who lived everyday life with Jesus; these were the men who wanted to be most like Jesus. After Jesus was killed, this group of men were the ones who were impacted the most and were the ones that had their whole lives changed. But then Jesus came back; he rose from the dead changing everything. When they thought that Jesus was dead and that they would never see him again, everything that these men had known was flipped around, and they were scared. Their future was completely unknown. But beforehand, Jesus told them this…
John 14:25-27, 29
“I have told you this while I am still with you. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. … I have told you this now before it all lhappens, so that when it does happen, you will believe.”
Jesus had changed their whole world, leaving before them a path bombarded with uncertainty, and he decided to tell them to take confidence in the peace that will be given to them in the Holy Spirit. That seems like a hard thing to do. But the truth is that peace destroys fear. That is right. Peace takes fear and completely banishes it. So when Jesus tells the disciples that they have nothing to worry about because he is giving them peace, an amazing peace that can only come from Jesus, that is a big deal.
You may already know this, but these disciples were the people who founded the Church that we know today. The same people that were faced with the complete unknown were the same people who founded the Church. They became bold, confident, and they overcame fear only with the peace from God.
Father, thank you so much for the promise of your peace. Knowing that you are with us in the middle of the unknown is wonderful, but we desire to feel you with us; we want to see you with us. Show us the presence of your peace. Teach us to trust in your peace, give us the power to let go of fear, and to hold on to you. We pray these things in Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.
What is fear? Merriam Webster defines fear in the following way:
· To be afraid and worried
· To be afraid or apprehensive
· Anxious concern
· Reason for alarm
Have you ever thought of your life in terms of an amazing story that is being written by every moment that you live? Well that is what Donald Miller, author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, encourages his readers to see. Miller writes about his own experience in understanding the effects of fear on our life story and says this…
“The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It’s in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around. Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose. But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Do you think that what Miller is saying is true? Why do you think fear hinders our life stories from becoming amazing?
Look at these 3 Scriptures and read about what it is that God does with fear. After reading each verse, take a moment to express in your own words what it is that God does to fear.
2 Timothy 1:7
1 John 4:18
When reading the next 3 verses, look at the promises that God makes to us. While reading, you might want to make a list of what God says he does when we face the unknown.
Finally read what it is that Jesus instructs us to do when facing an unknown future.
In the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Herminie, one of the new students finds herself in a peculiar and scary situation. Take a look at how she reacts to an unwelcome guest in the girl’s bathroom.
When we do not know about our future, it is easy for us to become fearful. Watch this clip from the movie the Green Lantern and notice how the crowd of people is acting out of fear.
Take a minute and laugh at how Gru, from Despicable Me, reacts when he is afraid of a phone call.