Lean in to Fear – Do Not Be Afraid

Republishing the Daily Devotion from Emily Hylden and the Living Church Foundation for today 11 May 2016.

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr
Lean In to Fear
Daily Devotional • May 11
By the Rev. Emily R. Hylden

Often, when we see God’s powerful hand at work, we are shocked and frightened — what is one of the most common phrases in Scripture but “Be not afraid”? In today’s reading from Matthew, when Jesus sends demons away from the people and into pigs, instead of flocking to him because of this great feat (really, a great public service, as the passage explains that the demoniacs would not let anyone pass by the place), they begged him to leave them.

It reminds me of the Hebrew people’s reaction to Moses’ shining face — they plead with Moses to cover his face so that they would not see the alarming light. How often to we have the same reaction to holiness?

Living in the world, surrounded by influences from media, secularism, slothfulness, and gluttony, those things that are oriented toward God — virtues, and holiness — can make us feel very much out of place and uncomfortable. I’ve found, however, that I grow most when I subject myself to uncomfortable situations regularly. God is most often in the uncomfortable places.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is stubborn, jealous for the affection of his people, but true growth, maturity, and discipleship comes from at least submitting to these frightening moments of holiness, if not learning how to embrace them wholeheartedly.

Matthew 8:28-34

28When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. 31The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. 33The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. 34Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

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