I’ve shared with you in these devos about Debbie, a friend Mary and I knew for over 35 years. In 1993 she was diagnosed with leukemia, a death sentence back then for many, but Debbie was a miracle.
Sue, a donor with the perfect bone marrow match, was located. Baylor in Dallas had the right transplant and isolation unit, and our church family mobilized to pray. There were weeks of isolation because of the threat of infection, but the Lord worked through the doctors and gave us a miracle.
Debbie got to see her daughter get married and even the birth of two grandchildren. Mary and I got to celebrate with the entire family as Debbie’s son graduated from Texas A&M. There were many special days not only here in Midlothian, but on their ranch in the Hill Country. But years later, dialysis, a breathing machine, and a host of other tubes were not enough to keep her alive. In that room death was not something that might happen in the distance future. It was imminent, and as we held hands in a circle around her bed to pray, the nearness of death tempted me to fear.
Fear is a major response in hearts as Luke tells us the Christmas story. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, was seized with fear in the Temple (1:12) and his neighbors responded with fear when Zechariah was suddenly able to talk again after more than nine months of silence (1:65). In Nazareth Mary reacted in fear when a stranger suddenly greeted her (1:29) and even the shepherds were terrified in the night as they guarded their flocks (2:9).
No one in Luke’s narrative feared terrorist attacks, violence in his or her cities, or the fragility of their economy. They were actually afraid of something far more serious. When faced with the supernatural, Zechariah, his neighbors, Mary, and the shepherds, all were gripped with fear. It’s God and his throne that we should actually fear, but the repeated message from heaven was “Fear not.” (1:13, 30; 2;10).
As I prayed with Debbie’s family, I remembered these angelic “fear nots,” and especially Zechariah’s comforting inspired words at the naming of his son who would herald the coming of the King,“to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk. 1:79). Because the family knew that Debbie knew Jesus, the King, instead of fear, we began to experience the “way of peace” Zechariah talked about.
LORD, thanks that you continue to give peace to Debbie’s family because they are experiencing the light that your Son’s resurrection provides. What a gift to know that because Debbie trusted Jesus we can look forward to a joyous reunion that will make any celebration of Christmas now seem like only a warm-up.
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