I came to faith in Christ when I was a twenty-something fledgling musician and undergraduate in New York City. When I ventured out, I would sling my guitar over the shoulder of my thrift shop wool coat, throw a dashing fedora on my head, and act as tough as a five-foot-tall white girl can act on the mean streets of the city.
I told my parents and others who were worried about my safety that if I was going to live in New York, I was not going to live afraid. It would be fair to say that denial was my most reliable defense mechanism at that time in my life.
Then I fell in love with Jesus and the word of God. I memorized the 23rd Psalm. I remember occasions when I was walking through particularly dodgy neighborhoods and I would recite that psalm out loud over and over. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me….”
Now as I stand on the brink of “seniorhood,” I still refuse to live afraid. I’m inspired in this conviction by the Apostle Peter and his progression from fear and confusion to great boldness and spiritual power.
Peter started out as a normal, natural man, a fisherman. He responded to Jesus’ blunt invitation to leave his trade and become a fisher of men. He became a follower, and then one of the Twelve, and then one of Jesus’ closest friends and confidantes. Peter was astonished by Jesus’ teaching and his miracles. He was also often afraid of the phenomenal events that were unfolding.
Peter was a leader, and because of his impetuous personality style, he was the one to speak up when all of the disciples had questions they were afraid to ask. But this doesn’t change the fact that often Peter was quite befuddled, confused and afraid about what the future would bring.
All of this changed after the resurrection of Christ and the day of Pentecost. Peter became convinced of things about which he formerly doubted. His faith was secure. We was filled with the Spirit, and spoke the word with tremendous boldness. He counted it a joy to suffer for the name of Christ. He didn’t worry about being jailed, flogged, falsely accused, or even killed. He was absolutely stuck on being a witness of the resurrection, advancing and guiding the church, and fulfilling the commission entrusted to him.
Like Peter, I am a Spirit-filled Christian. I have a choice. I can cower in fear of viruses, storms, or financial downturns. I can “social distance” myself right out of my usefulness as a minister. Or, I can be like Peter and become bold as a lion. I can stay glued to the truths of the gospel and find my security and peace in the Rock of Ages. So can you.
To quote Paul, Peter’s very bold brother in Christ, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die we belong to the Lord” (Rom. 14:8). We belong to the Lord. He has us covered in every way. He is our comprehensive insurance policy.
On a final note…We all must die of something if we go before Jesus returns. Some of us will be lucky enough to live to a good old age and die peacefully in our sleep. Some of us will perish because of diseases or accidents, disaster or violence. But I believe strongly that very few of us are going to die of the Corona virus.
I’ll wash my hands and pay attention to my surroundings, but I will not live afraid of a new strain of pestilence. Greater is he who is within…
I will ask the Lord to make me bold and courageous. Will you join me?
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).