This morning I went back to a prayer that my friend Scotty penned recently-a prayer about fear. It's so natural to be afraid even though the Bible tells us over 300 times "be not afraid." Scotty's prayer gets to the heart of why Christians can live fearlessly. He quotes Revelation 1:17-18:
He placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."
Based on these two verses he writes:
Lord Jesus, how timely, stunning and encouraging to know that the most repeated command throughout the whole Bible is "Do not be afraid". The angels spoke these words to startled shepherds at your birth, and you repeated the command to a devastated Mary on the morning of your resurrection, and now you speak these liberating words to my heart and conscience, "Do not be afraid!"
Because you are the First and the Last, Jesus, I don't have to be afraid of anything in between. You are God, and I am not. You will never say "Oops" about anything in world history or in my own life. You never "try" to do anything. You never have to scratch your head in confusion. You never have to resort to plan B. You are perfectly executing your sovereign will, from naming the stars to numbering my hairs. Glory!
Because you are the Living One, who was dead and who is now alive forever, I don't have to be afraid of judgment Day or this day. For your death on the cross is my judgment Day and your resurrection from the dead is my assurance of being eternally and fully accepted by God. Constantly sung over me by my Father, and all my brothers and sisters in you, is the most liberating of all lyrics, "There is now and forevermore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ!" Not only is there no condemnation, there is only full delight! Oh my goodness!
Because you hold the keys of death and Hades, Jesus, and to everything else, I don't have to be afraid to die, or to live. You have robbed the grave of its victory, you have removed the sting of death, and you have defeated the devil and all the powers of darkness! I don't have to be afraid of people. I don't have to be afraid of failing. I don't have to be afraid of getting old. Yes, yes, yes!
Place your right hand on me today in the gospel, that I might be freed more fully from my fears and live more fully to the praise of your glorious Name. Amen and Amen forever!
To live is Christ, to die is gain!