Week of September 3
Fear of What's Next
by Max Lucado
"I am going away" ( John 14:28).
Imagine their shock when they heard Jesus say those words. He spoke them on the night of the Passover celebration, Thursday evening, in the Upper Room. Christ and his friends had just enjoyed a calm dinner in the midst of a chaotic week. They had reason for optimism: Jesus' popularity was soaring. Opportunities were increasing. In three short years the crowds had lifted Christ to their shoulders . . . he was the hope of the common man.
And now this? Jesus said, "I am going away." The announcement stunned them. When Jesus explained, "You know the way to where I am going," Thomas, with no small dose of exasperation, replied, "No, we don't know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" ( John 14:4-5 NLT).
On the eve of his death, Jesus gave his followers this promise: "When the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid" (John 14:26-27 NLT).
As a departing teacher might introduce the classroom to her replacement, so Jesus introduces us to the Holy Spirit. And what a ringing endorsement he gives. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit his "representative."
The Spirit comes in the name of Christ, with equal authority and identical power. Earlier in the evening Jesus had said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever" (John 14:16 NIV).
Jesus' promise: allos—"another one just like the first one." And who is the first one? Jesus himself. Hence, the assurance Jesus gives to the disciples is this: "I am going away. You are entering a new season, a different chapter. Much will be different, but one thing remains constant: my presence. You will enjoy the presence of ‘another Counselor.' "
Can you see how the disciples needed this encouragement? It's Thursday night before the crucifixion. By Friday's sunrise they will abandon Jesus. The breakfast hour will find them hiding in corners and crevices. At 9 a.m. Roman soldiers will nail Christ to a cross. By this time tomorrow he will be dead and buried. Their world is about to be flipped on its head. And Jesus wants them to know: they'll never face the future without his help.
Nor will you. You have a travel companion. When you place your faith in Christ, Christ places his Spirit before, behind, and within you. Not a strange spirit, but the same Spirit: the parakletos. Everything Jesus did for his followers, his Spirit does for you. Jesus taught; the Spirit teaches. Jesus healed; the Spirit heals. Jesus comforted; his Spirit comforts. As Jesus sends you into new seasons, he sends his Counselor to go with you.
God treats you the way one mother treated her young son, Timmy. She didn't like the thought of Timmy walking to his first-grade class unaccompanied. But he was too grown-up to be seen with his mother. "Besides," he explained, "I can walk with a friend." So she did her best to stay calm, quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to him every morning: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . . "
One day she came up with an idea. She asked a neighbor to follow Timmy to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, lest he notice her. The neighbor was happy to oblige. She took her toddler on morning walks anyway.
After several days Timmy's little friend noticed the lady and the child.
"Do you know who that woman is who follows us to school?"
"Sure," Timmy answered. "That's Shirley Goodnest and her daughter Marcy."
"My mom reads about them every day in the Twenty-third Psalm. She says, ‘Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Guess I'll have to get used to them."
You will too. God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God's presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who "will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you" (John 14:26 NLT).
From Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1985, 2004) Max Lucado