What happens when faith trumps fear?

On Easter Sunday, it’s easy to get swept away in the pretty pastels, chocolate bunnies and plastic eggs. But what if we used this special day to explore the idea of something deeper? Not just an empty tomb, but also the power of faith on a broader level. Patrick Rieke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services, shares more ... 

One week in church, I shared this biblical story:  

John 20:19-22  - That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you.” 

The next day, a friend of mine called. He was a firefighter for a long time. And a good one. He was confident and capable. Experienced. The sort of face you would be desperate to see coming through the flames if you were trapped in a burning building. But, after my message on the vignette from the Easter story, he called me to tell me a story of his own.

One time he was in a barn that was on fire. It wasn’t the worst fire he’d seen. But something happened inside him in the midst of some overwhelming smoke. He lost his bearings and fear struck him suddenly and unexpectedly. He couldn’t see more than an inch in front of his mask. And he could feel that he was about to break down inside—panic was setting in. Fortunately, that’s when his colleague realized something wasn’t right. “Are you ok?” He asked. It took all his courage just to indicate that, indeed, he was not ok. “Let’s get you out of here, now!” And his friend led him to safety.

Even for tough guys like my friend, fear can be paralyzing.

You know the feeling. Locked in a room by fear. Fear makes us lock doors, doesn’t it? It might be a healthy fear that leads us to lock the doors on our home at night or our car in the parking lot. But sometimes fear locks doors when it’s completely unnecessary.

Fear makes us build walls.

Fear isolates.

Fear dehumanizes. It dehumanizes me first. Then, when my mind is in the grip of fear, it leads me to dehumanize others.

The more afraid we are, the more walls we build.

Fear can lock out opportunities. Fear can lock out our loved ones. Fear can lock away our own hearts. And fear can certainly lock out God.

The men in the story had locked the doors because of fear. Maybe those locks kept some people out. But there was one person their locks had absolutely no effect on.

Here’s some bad news if you are trying to lock others out: There are no locked doors for God.

Let me repeat that, and I’d like you to read it slowly. There are … no locked doors … for God. No walls can keep Him out. Like a fellow firefighter, he will find you in the midst of the fear that has paralyzed you.

Here’s some good news if you are hiding behind locked doors: When He shows up, he’s ready to make a trade. He gives peace in exchange for fear.

Reject fear. Reject isolation.

Tear down a few walls.

Open the doors to those who love you. Open the doors to opportunities. Open the door to your own soul and heart.

But if you are still locked up today, be warned that God is no respecter of your locked doors.

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