Flying Fear

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“That bird does not want to eat you.”

Mango squawked his disagreement. Our moody Sun Conure perched on his homemade wooden stand on the lanai, the relentless Florida sun pressing through the screen, even in early April.

Mango had just enjoyed a warm lanai shower, via the hose, and now anxiously watched the dark brown bird gliding overhead. We live near a large cluster of woods, and various birds and creatures visit our bird feeder all times of the day and night.

Vultures often fly overhead, long jagged feathers outlined against the bright blue sky. I wonder if they see our dog’s battered, stuffed animal toys dotting our fenced backyard and inspect them to make sure they’re not potential meals. 🙂

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But whenever the vultures appear, Mango sets up a loud cry, his purring warning cackle followed by loud squawks. No matter if I stand beside him and reassure him, scratch his head, or offer to hold him (all on the lanai), he’s done. He wants inside, soaking wet or not.

His fear of the huge birds overwhelms him to the point he can’t function, despite the fact that I’m right there, vultures don’t eat live animals, and he’s safe inside the screened lanai.

Fear. 

Fear has a big place in my life. Too big, at times. I detest it because I’m familiar with its crippling hold on my heart and actions. How many times has it held me back from stepping out to obey the Lord in something outside my comfort zone, or kept me from trying something new.

Fear keeps us frozen in place, or running backward. And that’s the opposite of God’s plans for us.

I appreciate 2 Timothy so much. The Apostle Paul’s words to young, beloved son in the Lord Timothy have kept fear at bay many times in my life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (1:7) 

If you have vultures flying overhead–know they’re not a threat. Don’t be fearful.

You’re already protected under the shadow of the Almighty, believers. You are privileged to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. ❤ And that’s the best place to be. 

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God’s Christmas Consolation

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“You said you were going to play with me when you finished that book—you promised!”

The familiar words came from our playroom.  I listened to my boys’ exchange, wondering if I needed to intervene.  The upset child dragged out loud words like a ferry horn warning of imminent departure.

There are times as a parent when I leave them alone to work it out, but there are other situations when Mommy Mediator steps in. Dueling voices rose, so I walked into the room and reiterated how important it was to keep their word.  When you promise something, do what you said you’d do. I reminded them that a promise is like a gift to someone, and when we break it, we yank the gift back, hurting the other person as well as ourselves.

When someone promises us something our heart desires, we hold tight to that promise, placing our hope in the person’s word and faith in their actions.  The Bible details many promises that God brought to fruition among His people: an arced, colorful promise to Noah that marks stormy skies to this day; His seemingly impossible promise to elderly Abram that he would be the father of many nations; and God’s greatest promise of a perfect Lamb offered for our sin, His Son Jesus—fully God and fully man and overflowing with grace.

Within the Christmas story we read about another promise, this one given by God to one of His faithful.  In Luke 2, we’re introduced to Simeon, a righteous elderly man of sterling reputation who lived in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus’ birth.  The Bible tells us that Simeon was “just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). God had revealed a promise to Simeon through the Holy Spirit that he would see the promised Messiah before his death.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:25-26)

Jesus was born quietly in a stable, with only Mary, Joseph, and the surrounding animals to witness His humble entrance into a broken world that needed Him.  God sent the shepherds to visit the Christ child, affirming His promise of a Messiah had come to pass. Once the shepherds arrived at the stable in Bethlehem, they found the “Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12, NKJV).

In His sovereignty, God was tying together His promise to Simeon with the lives of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  Shortly after His birth, Joseph and Mary brought their newborn Son into Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice on His behalf and present Him to the Lord.  At the same time, Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit to go to the Temple.

So he (Simeon) came by the Spirit into the temple.  And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:27-32)

As he neared the dusk of his days, Simeon held God’s prophesied Messiah; peace overcame him as this life-long promise came to completion.  What joy must have filled his heart as he held God’s perfect Salvation in his arms!  Jesus was the Christmas Consolation for Simeon, just as He is for us today.

This Christmas season, let’s hope in God’s Word alone, knowing He is faithful to His promises and that through Jesus—God’s Christmas Consolation—we’re given new life and unshakeable hope.  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

“Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; And let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified!’” (Psalm 70:4)