Do Not Be Afraid

I have had some trepidation in writing this first post. My procrastination has, no doubt, been the product of my twin afflictions of perfectionism and obsessive compulsiveness. But those afflictions have been fueled by an emotion I trust we all struggle against . . . fear.

The Crossing has had such a vital impact on me; it is an understatement to say that I am honored to have the opportunity to participate further in this vibrant community through this new blog venture. But herein has lay the basis of my fear. Don’t I need to have more knowledge? Don’t I need to know the Bible better to do this? I’m so far from being a “perfect Christian,” how in the world can I expect to be able to write things to help others on their journey? What if I say something that reflects badly on the Church? Even worse, what if I say something that makes someone question the truth of Christ? And on and on (remember, I did already warn you of my OCD). But in the midst of these doubts and fears, I believe God used something so mundane as my preparation for this blog to deepen my understanding of something so profound as his grace.

I had been thinking and praying about my concerns regarding the blog for quite some time, but the doubts have lingered. “Maybe if I just do some more research on the ideas I have had,” I thought to myself. “All I need is more information, more knowledge, more preparation, and then I’ll be ready.” And then, as is generally the case, I had a brush with that “peace that passes understanding” when I least expected it.

While riding my bike on the Bear Creek trail earlier this week, lost in my thoughts and my ipod, the lyrics of a song hit me in a way they hadn’t before. The song was “A New Law” by Derek Webb (of Caedmon’s Call fame) from his 2005 album Mockingbird. This album has had a significant spiritual impact on me of late and in that moment this particular track really was what I needed to hear. The first two minutes or so of the song forced me to contemplate the role the Crossing has played in my relationship with Christ. The words of the song forced me to think about how this community has helped me to realize just how radical God’s grace is . . . that our faith is not just a New Law. Here are the lyrics:

(Verse One)
Don’t teach me about politics and government
Just tell me who to vote for
Don’t teach me about truth and beauty
Just label my music

Don’t teach me how to live like a free man
Just give me a new law

I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me

I want a new law
I want a new law
Gimme that new law

(Verse Two)
Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice

Don’t teach me about loving my enemies

Don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
Just give me a new law

What’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
For one you can that cannot get you anything

These verses, for whatever reason (I tend to think it was God), just “hit” me and harkened me back to one of the earliest sermons I heard at the Crossing. It was a sermon wherein Keith spoke about Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. About how one of those great writers (Dostoevsky) had seemed to truly understand and embrace the radical nature of God’s grace while the other (Tolstoy) had been crushed by the weight of trying to follow the law. That message impacted me deeply. I’ve spent my entire life in church, but it wasn’t until I came here that I really began to understand grace. To understand what our faith is really about. In that moment, while cruising along the trail, I thanked God that he had provided me with this community.

But, the song went on.

For the last minute or so Mr. Webb repeats the same four words again and again. “Do not be afraid . . . Do not be afraid . . . Do not be afraid,” Sixteen times (if my count is correct), he repeats this refrain. And again, as he sang those four words over and over, I had another one of “those” moments. I realized that despite all of my flaws and doubts I had to just set down and write. Sure, I’m going to make mistakes. Maybe I will unintentionally make one of our readers mad. And while I continue to strive in the knowledge department (as Dave has recently challenged us to do), I will (sadly) never have perfect knowledge or information. But I do have faith (peppered with my share of doubts) and the desire to use whatever modicum of abilities I have (along with the opportunities God has given me) to participate further in this community.

And I do, once again, thank God for this Church. I pray that He will help me to not be afraid, to stop continually searching for the comfort of a new law, and to help me embrace his radical and amazing grace.

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