I CAN’T GET it out of my mind these days. With Christmas fast approaching, I think about one of my greatest fears. Only recently did I realize I had this fear.
It’s not that I thought I was fearless. I’ve been a coward at times. I didn’t always stand up for things the way I should have. I didn’t always defend the truth. Sometimes I was afraid to speak up because I feared the consequences.
Digging into those moments of fear and doubt, I’ve come to a realization. Deep down, I’m afraid of being vulnerable. I’m afraid of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked, hurt, or ashamed. I fear the line of fire. Yes, I can get past this and move forward, but the fear is still there.
I’ve been attacked. I’ve been hurt and humiliated. Who hasn’t? And when you are defenseless — but you still take the hit — it leaves a lasting mark.
With Christmas fast approaching, I also think about babies. I think about the vulnerability of a mother expecting the birth of her child. What is God trying to tell me about the anticipated birth of his Son?
It’s the Virgin Mary — carrying the baby Jesus in her womb — trusting and waiting patiently. It’s Joseph wondering, worrying, and making sure his family will be safe. It’s a tiny, vulnerable family journeying through a hostile land.
The fear of being exposed and vulnerable drove me to make many mistakes. It sometimes led me to hurt myself and others. How much of the world is in turmoil now due to the fear of its vulnerability? Nobody wants to back down. They want to raise the stakes and put others in their place — or eliminate them completely.
Is it all in the name of justice? Or is the denial of their vulnerability the real motive? Yes, the threats are real — but so are the consequences of a continuous war of condemnation.
What does God’s word tell us every Christmas? The fullest manifestation of his power and glory came to us through a humble, defenseless family. The perfection of justice and righteousness was born vulnerable.
Yes, we must have the courage to stand up for what’s right, but where does my motivation come from? Where do I get the strength?
The power of the human will is nearly limitless. It can raise up complex civilizations and rain down genocidal destruction. But if my desire to make things right in this world comes solely from the force of my will, I don’t believe God is very interested.
Why do I think this? Because he showed us his way of doing things. He leaves no room for doubt. The maximum expression of his power was born defenseless and vulnerable. And the entire life of the Son of Man was lived this way — exposed and vulnerable — even unto his death.
Does this mean we drop our defenses and let the evil in this world drag us to the cross? Perhaps not, but many martyrs did this exact same thing. And not a single drop of their blood was spilled in vain.
Only in our vulnerability can we identify with a Savior to be born in a manger. That is how he chose to identify with us — to be like us. And there we find supernatural power.
If we recognize our weakness and fragility before God, then his grace has room to work in us. His Spirit can act in our hearts and minds. The deeper you go into exploring your vulnerability, the deeper you go into understanding who God is — and who you are.
In his presence, you will never be attacked, hurt, or ashamed. Shame and fear are cast out. True courage takes hold of you. You will see great works and wonders. The results won’t be typical or worldly. Instead, they will be heavenly and eternal.
And all the Kingdom, the power, and the glory will be the Lord’s and his alone.
. . . . . . .
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.James 5:7-8
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