Here’s the text of a homily I delivered at The Sharing Place tonight.
[it has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or punctuation]
Good evening – this is my first time at the sharing place and its a privilege to be able to share a short message from God’s word with you tonight.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and of good courage do not fear or be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Have you ever been afraid? I have… in fact I never realized how often I get scared until I set about planning for tonight. I arrogantly thought I might have trouble coming up with good examples of when I got scared, but it turns out I need not have worried – I’ve had plenty of opportunities to be scared out of my mind.
I’ve been hit by a truck, almost fallen more than 100 feet to my death and a few years ago I came face to face with a bear in the woods…. Ok, the bear was probably 100 feet away, but they can run really fast and that was as close as I ever want to get without a cage.
The most scared I think I’ve been was just last year. My fiancé and I were planning our wedding and neither of us had jobs, had no idea where we were going to live or how we were going to pay for food. I wasn’t scared as much for myself but was feeling like I was letting my soon to be wife down.
It’s strange, but thinking back I think I was being tested that summer… and I failed miserably!
You see I had worked for the City of Toronto for 9 years, when in 2008 I felt the Lord calling me back to school to be a pastor. So, I quit my very well paying and secure job, thinking I would be okay and everything would work out. I had a small amount of money from an inheritance but as the fall approached, the money was running out, so rather than drop out of school I sold my condo and moved into a dorm room at my university.
Eventually, that money started to run out… and I started to FREAK OUT!
Looking back this was a time of trial, my test. Did I remember the words of our Lord: Do not fear, do not be afraid? NOPE! I did not.
How easily I forgot God’s message. When I was tested, when I was hit with difficulty I started feeling depressed, angry, and anxious. I started having anxiety attacks several times a week not knowing what to do. I was freaking out because I was relying on my own strength to get through things and not allowing God to work in my life and fill me with his peace.
Luckily, though, my fiancé knew better than me. She remembered God’s promise. Trust God and he will provide she said. She was right of course – they always are – God has provided us the means to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. We aren’t financially rich by any stretch, but we have what we need.
You know who else was afraid once upon a time? Jesus.
…no, its true. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the night he was arrested, Jesus lay face down on the ground and prayed to God saying “my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” -> he didn’t want to be hung on a cross and be murdered, to endure the pain, the humiliation… But he trusted in God to do what was best. He continued praying saying “Nevertheless, not as i will, but as you will.”
He gave his life over to the Lord – he trusted his heavenly father.
What does this teach us? It teaches us that courage is not defined as the absence of fear, but rather, it is going ahead despite the fear.
You are all courageous people. I know that without knowing anything about you. The proof is that you’re here. You needed help and you accepted the help of this church. That takes courage – many people would let their pride get in the way of getting help when they need it.
When Jesus was done praying and giving his life over to God’s will, he went to his disciples and told them to “rise, let us go, the enemy approaches”.
That is my prayer for you: when evil approaches and you are fearful, do not turn away, but face it head on, remembering the final words of Jesus to his disciples: “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
Let us pray…
Dear Lord, as we move into a time of fellowship I pray that you continue to bless our time together, guide our conversations, and let this place be filled with the spirit of love. May your peace, which surpasses all understanding, guard our hearts and minds in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord, AMEN.