Last night my family and I decided to take a little break from the normal busyness of the holiday season and go out to dinner, then drive to look at some Christmas lights. It was a great night. We had some KFC, enjoyed each other’s company, and navigated to a neighborhood where the exterior illumination would have made Clark Griswold proud.
The more we slowly drove through the neighborhood, though, the later it got. The later it got, the sleepier our five year old son got. This combination created a perfect storm of emotion that would erupt in a most unexpected way. You see, we turned a corner and drove upon a 30 foot tall Santa Claus and a 30 foot tall Frosty the Snowman. Seriously. No joke. When we saw the twin towers, my wondering eyes were amazed as Kimberly quickly looked out the window to see what was the matter. Josh, meanwhile, freaked out.
His cup of lemonade went one direction, his body went another, and his hands covered his face as he started crying. I thought he was crying because he had spilled his drink. Nope. He was crying because he was terrified of the 30 foot inflatable of holiday cheer. Seriously, how could that guy make it down anyone’s chimney!
I was thinking about this experience this morning as I read Luke 8. In this chapter, Jesus deals frequently with the fears of His people. In 35 verses from 8:22-56, Jesus:
- Calms a storm that is causing His disciples to fear for their lives. (8:22-25)
- Casts out demons from a person who instilled fear in all who saw him. (8:26-39)
- Heals a woman whose condition caused her to fearfully withdraw from society. (8:40-48)
- Raises a girl from the dead, bringing peace to two parent’s worst fear (8:49-56)
What is fascinating to me is that as Jesus responds to the things that people fear (storms, demon possession, illness, and death), people shift from fearing something to fearing Someone:
- After seeing the storm calmed, the disciples, “were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this that He commands even winds and water, and they obey Him.'” (8:25)
- The townspeople who witnessed the casting out of demons were said to be “seized with great fear.” (8:37)
- The woman whose ailment was healed came “trembling” before Him. (8:47)
- The parents of the girl raised from the dead were “amazed” at the miracle of resurrection. (8:56)
The fear of something leads to paralysis and death. The fear of Someone (Jesus) leads to worship and awe. The key in our life is not to have “no fear” as T-shirts from the 90’s would instruct us. The key is to fear the right One. By fear, I ultimately mean deep respect and amazement. Jesus’s contemporaries who faithfully followed Him were people who were consistently amazed by Him.
This Christmas there are many things that might cause you to fear. 30 ft. tall illnesses, deaths, rejection, vocational issues, financial issues, and the like can cause us to bury our head in our hands, paralyzing us from action. The key this Christmas is not to simply have no fear . . . it is to fear the right One. Santa is not the one ultimately looming over our lives, Jesus is, and a healthy appreciation of His power gives us courage, not crippling worry. After all, when we look to the One who can calm the seas, cast out evil, heal the sick and raise the dead, why would I fear the lesser things? Instead, I will sit in awe of our Savior, in whose 30 foot shadow we find life.