Last week we included a Christmas carol in our Bible study for the first time this year. (Yay!) We sang O Little Town of Bethlehem (which has never been one of my favourites). I was struck by the line the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. Really? Fears? That seemed kind of out of place in a Christmas hymn. As far as I can tell, other than that odd line about 'scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long long ago,' fear isn't really a big Christmas carol theme.
It made me think of that shivery passage in Isaiah:
Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy,
and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.
But the Lord of hosts, Him you shall honour as holy.
Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread. (Isaiah 8:12-13)
And I don't know about you, but I needed that reminder. To fear God, and no one, nothing else. Not the future, not my own failure, not whatever might face my children, not exhaustion or repetition or insignificance.
I seem to have fallen into a funk lately - worrying about all sorts of things. Unconsciously fearing a handful of big unknowns that I have no control over, and letting that fear colour my mood, robbing my joy. Fearing things that very well may come to pass - but things that I can't control.
The other day I was feeing Pascal while the kids were playing Super Mario. (Let me be honest. Sam was playing Super Mario, while Vava and Kachi held empty controllers.) Sam died, and Vava asked him how many hopes he had left.
And that made me smile all over the place because she didn't mean to preach to my heart but she did.
God so gently took my heavy heart and pointed me away from my fears to my Fear and I found hope. What is my hope? Jesus. Not that Jesus will save me from my fears (He'll probably lead me straight into them, because He's got bigger things in mind for me than assuaging my fears). Not that Jesus will give me a trouble-free future (He told us we'd have trouble, after all). But that Jesus is splendid and glorious - and His heaven waits, where all of this long life will seem like a breath, a vapour, when He takes me, at last, into His presence. Oh, I do not need to fear the future. My fear, my hope, is Jesus.
Like Super Mario on the easy setting, I will not run out of hopes.
I don't know where this post finds you. Maybe you, too, have been clenching your teeth a little more lately, furrowing your forehead a little harder every time you read the news. Whatever fears are stalking you, I pray you bring them to our only Fear, our eternal Hope, and that He gives you peace and joy as advent begins.
Merry Christmas, friends!