They were afraid, but they were filled with joy. When I read that this morning, it seemed to describe the story of my life. After Jesus had died and was buried, the women were on their way to his tomb. When they came to the tomb and discovered an angel sitting on top of the heavy stone they were worried about trying to move, this was how they are described: afraid, but filled with joy.
Every day I fight fear. Fear that things will happen. Fear that things won’t happen. Fear of what other people think of me. Fear of what I think about myself. Fear debilitates us to action. When we know God wants us to go or do or say, fear will stop us in our tracks, tie our hands behind our backs, and silence us like a gag.
I know people who are afraid to lose weight. The fear of losing who they are comfortable being, in exchange for discipline and commitment to a new lifestyle, keeps them locked in a cycle of bad habits. I know people who are afraid of moving on. They are consumed by their past, and their fear keeps them from seeing what is around the corner. I know people who are afraid of change. They’re afraid of what it might mean and will never experience what it can do. I know people who are afraid of letting go. They’re afraid of losing the grip that they hold so securely, whether it’s a grudge or something that’s been done wrongly to them. They’re afraid, and will never experience the freedom of having their grip loosened, only to have their grasp filled with forgiveness and peace. I know people who are afraid of trying something new. They’re afraid, because they might discover they’re actually good at something they were never told they were good at doing. Or maybe they’re afraid of failing, so they never try. I know it, because I’ve been in each of these situations.
I don’t want my life to be characterized by fear, though it is something I constantly battle. Instead of being filled with fear, with little sprinkles of joy, I would much rather be afraid and filled with joy. Joy is the filling aspect, and fear is just a seasoning. It doesn’t debilitate, but rather keeps my heart in tune with Jesus, who has conquered fear.