Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revisiting a New Year Sermon

What emotions are you experiencing as you face the prospects of a new year? Anticipation? Uncertainty? Eagerness? Fear?

The year that is coming to an end has generated many emotions, challenges, and difficulties—everything from a devastating hurricane to an divisive election. What will the year ahead hold? For those of us trying to break into the field of publishing, we can’t help asking those inevitable questions about whether 2009 might be the magic year about which we dream. But we know it could more easily be a year of further disappointment, perhaps outright rejection.

A number of years ago I heard a sermon on the last Sunday before the new year, and I’ve never forgotten it. Its topic was the seven times Jesus is recorded as saying “fear not” in the book of Luke. Some of the occurrences are in familiar passages, and each carries a distinct message.

1:13: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.”
1:30: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”
2:10: “Do not be afraid, [shepherds]; I bring you good news of great joy…”
5:11: “Do not be afraid, [Simon Peter]; from now on you will catch men.”
8:50: “Do not be afraid, [Jarius], just believe, and she will be healed.”
12:7: “Do not be afraid, [friends]; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
12:32: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

As I review those verses and the comforting words of my Savior, it is inevitable that my mind wants to apply them to my adventures in trying to get Tangled Strands accepted by a publisher. Has my prayer been heard? Have I found favor with God? Will an e-mail or phone call bring me that coveted good news? Will God open up for me a whole new area of ministry from Christian fiction? And surely it can’t be as simple as “just believing” to see it happen?

No matter what the answers turn out to be to those questions in relation to my writing, I find solid assurance in the last two. Whether I ever get published or not, I have the Savior’s assurance that I am “worth more than many sparrows.” And whatever theologians have to say about the Father “giving us the Kingdom,” I know that my eternal destiny is sure, and I know that I have tried to do my best for that Kingdom all through my life.

So . . . with God’s help, I want to face the year ahead without fear—whether fear of what is going to happen in our country and the world or in my efforts to put my story out there for examination and possible publication.

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