Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Parenting Tip - Fear Not!

My daughter-in-law, Heather, was asked to give a talk in Church.  I loved her talk so much, and think it applies to so many of us, that I asked her if I could publish it on my blog.  Here it is:



The Birth and Ministry of Christ
With this assignment to speak, I’ve been reflecting as deeply as I could on the time of Christ’s birth. Those were days of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest. The laws and punishments were brutal and the nation of Israel was fractured by oppressive Romans. 
Lloyd Newell, the host of Music and the Spoken Word brought to my attention that in the account of the Savior’s birth, there are four separate occasions where an angel appeared with the message “Fear not.”
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias with news that his wife would bear a son, the forerunner of the Messiah, he said, “Fear not, . . . for thy prayer is heard.”
Later the same angel visited “beautiful and fair” Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, assuring her with similar words: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”
Shortly thereafter an angel appeared to Joseph the carpenter in a dream and said, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.”
And then, on that holy night, as all eternity watched in reverent silence, the angel came upon humble shepherds keeping watch over their flock. The shepherds, who “were sore afraid,” heard the angel proclaim, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
So much of what happened during those pivotal moments in the nativity narrative depended upon the courage of people like Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. God had a monumental task for each of them; their lives were about to change forever. Imagine if they had let fear overcome them. What if they had pulled back, doubted, and failed to do what God needed them to do?
Like Zacharias, who feared that he would never have children, you may have fears about your family. Or maybe your fear isn’t that you won’t have children but that you will have children, whom you will have to raise in a toxic world increasingly hostile to families. Like Mary, you may have an assignment or responsibility that seems far beyond your abilities. Like Joseph, you may fear getting married—or that you will never get married. Like the shepherds, you may be “sore afraid” when your peaceful and simple life is disrupted because God has plans for you that are bigger than what you have for yourself.
It wasn’t too long ago when I had a strong desire to increase my faith. It felt like I had a personal mountain to move and I knew if I just had enough faith, it would move. As I knelt in prayer, the moment I began to pour out my heart for greater faith, I was tempted with fear. I feared that if I prayed for faith, surely, Heavenly Father would put into my path a tragedy or some great trial in order for me to stretch myself and gain greater faith.   When I thought this, my desire to pray for faith diminished and I shrunk at the idea of praying for such a thing. I didn’t want to bring trials or tragedies into my life.
Then I was taught by the spirit. I saw this fear for what it was…a lie, a weak spot in my faith as long as I heal onto this belief. From that point on, I’ve been able to discern more clearly where my own doubts and fears. As I pray for these fears to disperse, my faith has become strengthened.
The truth is, God doesn’t give us stones when we ask for bread. I know this, yet, the moment I give into fear or doubt, is the very moment my faith is weak or completely absent.
Life presents endless opportunities to fear.
We may fear we can never truly overcome an addictive behavior or perhaps we fear for a loved one who has strayed. We may fear we aren’t good enough. We may fear God is ashamed of us…which is, in my opinion, the most darkest of lies.
For those of us who fear, ask yourself, do I pray with the spirit of fear or do I pray in faith that the Lord will provide a way and cling to the hope that you are never so low, but that Christ has gone lower or never so lost but that He will seek you out.          
I don’t think the message “Fear Not” was only intended for one difficult task or experience, I believe this message was meant to be taken into our hearts and continually be applied throughout our lives.
Mary had to not only “Fear not”, while carrying a child, but also when there wasn’t room in the inn to bare her child, and fleeing into Egypt to spare the life of her child, and in feeling the weight of raising the Son of God, and most of all, Mary had to “Fear Not” when her beloved son, her perfect son was to be lifted upon the cross and take upon him the sins of the world.
The Lord’s message to you today is the same message He sent through His angels so long ago: “Fear not.” He can say that because He knows more than we do. He sees what we cannot see. He knows what is coming, and, in the eternal scheme of things, it is not as bad as we may think. He knows that we can handle it with His help because He knows how to strengthen and succor us.
Most of all, He tells us not to fear because He knows that fear will paralyze us. It will keep us from knowing and doing His will; accepting His blessings, His love, and His light; and fulfilling His purposes.
Satan wants us to give in to fear. God wants us to hold on to hope.
I find the message of FEAR NOT profound because I too have fears. I live in a world of great turmoil, fear, and political unrest.  Sometimes I feel that my fears create blocks in my lines of inspiration and connection to God. 
President Howard W. Hunter said:  Fear . . . is a principal weapon in the arsenal that Satan uses to make mankind unhappy. He who fears loses strength for the combat of life in the fight against evil. Therefore, the power of the evil one always tries to generate fear in human hearts. . . .. . . A timid, fearing people cannot do their work well, and they cannot do God’s work at all. Latter-day Saints have a divinely assigned mission to fulfill… that simply must not be dissipated in fear and anxiety. 

When the Christ child was born into the world, I can only imagine the utmost feeling of joy, of relief, feelings of being rescued.  And why? Why these feelings?  Because God is perfect. And he bought us for a profound price, even with His blood. We are his sheep.  We need not fear. A shepherd tends to the needs of his flock. He gently guides them. He feeds them. He guards them. 

I’m forever grateful for my Shepherd. And as I continually learn to be his sheep, I need not want for anything.  I can Fear Not.


There’s a hymn, not found in our hymnbook, but sung at the funeral of President Hinckley called:  My Shepherd, you supply my need
My Shepherd will supply my need: Jehovah is His Name; In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake, In paths of truth and grace. When I walk through the shades of death, Thy presence is my stay; A word of Thy supporting breath Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, Doth still my table spread; My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head. The sure provisions of my God Attend me all my days; O may Thy house be my abode, And all my work be praise! There would I find a settled rest, While others go and come; No more a stranger, nor a guest, But like a child at home.
God’s greatest gift to all mankind is His son.
If we earnestly appeal to God, He takes us as we are—and makes us more than we ever imagined.  Then, if we stay in the fold, and be his sheep, we will be brought back to our Father in Heaven to partake of all that the Father has.   
It may not always easy to have faith and “Fear Not” amidst the storms of life. During His ministry, Christ
often professed the strength or weakness in faith of those around him. I noticed that when he found doubt or fear, faith was either weak or absent.  An example of this is found in Mark 4:37-40 as Christ and his apostles were crossing the sea. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
When I read this I can help but wonder…what would faith have looked like here? Their boat was filled and the storm was raging.

Is it really possible to have faith and internal peace in the midst of a storm? The answer is yes, an absolute yes.

Quoting Elder Bednar:
Truly, one of the great blessings of devoted discipleship is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
The peace Christ gives allows us to view mortality through the precious perspective of eternity and supplies a spiritual settledness (see Colossians 1:23) that helps us maintain a consistent focus on our heavenly destination. Thus, we can be blessed to hush our fears because His doctrine provides purpose and direction in all aspects of our lives. His ordinances and covenants fortify and comfort in times both good and bad. And His priesthood authority gives assurance that the things that matter most can endure both in time and in eternity.

Heavenly Father’s gift to us was the way home to him again through His son Jesus Christ. To show love to my savior, I will strive to repent of my fears and choose to have faith in my Lord, Savior Jesus Christ and partake of the Peace of God which passeth all understanding.

We sing the song “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but I wonder if we might not be able to expand it.  O Come, all ye faithful. O Come All ye doubtful. Come, all ye sorrowful and shameful and prideful and sinful. Come lay our burdens at His feet. Come take part of the condescension of Christ. You are never so low, but that He has gone lower. You are never so lost but that He will seek you out.           
This Christmas we worship the Christ child who wipes away our fears.
 I Know that God lives and that Christ was born into the world for us. He is the way. I testify that I know Christ lives today and that we need not fear…we are His Sheep.  In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

3 comments:

  1. What an inspiring talk. Just what I needed this morning. Thank-you to to your daugther-in-law.

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  2. Thank you for commenting. That's just what I needed to hear today too!

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  3. Stupendous blog you guys have provided there, I will absolutely valuate your effort.

    Bethany Kapell

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