Easter is one of my favorite celebrations. It's the celebration of new life. This year on Easter, as I was reading the account of Jesus' resurrection from Matthew 28 in the Bible, I was drawn to a verse I'd never really noticed before. Well, it was only part of the verse that struck me...only five words actually.
After a couple of women who had been devoted followers of Jesus went to the tomb and found it empty, an angel told them that Jesus had risen and they were supposed to go spread the word. Then Matthew 28:8 says: "So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples."
Afraid yet filled with joy. Huh. Those five words really got me thinking. It wasn't an easy thing these women were asked to do. People were going to think they were crazy. Or worse. And they were afraid...yet, filled with joy. What an interesting concept.
I tried to relate to how the women must have felt and realized there have been times I've been afraid (sometimes very afraid) and yet have been joyful. When I packed up everything I owned and moved from Washington to Montana, alone. When I flew into Bolivia to serve at South America Mission. When I got married. When I gave birth. When I landed in Ghana to meet my daughter for the first time (you can watch a video of that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTspZIkdGKI )
Afraid yet filled with joy. Looking back at all those experiences, it seems like the joy I had helped me overcome my fear, and the fear I had caused my joy to be even greater in the long run. Was it like that for the women at the tomb 2,000 years ago? Was it their joy that caused them to go out and do what Jesus asked them to do in spite of their fears? If it weren't for the joy they gained from Christ's resurrection, where would they have found the courage to do something as reckless and dangerous as telling the same story that just got Jesus killed three days before?
They were the first to tell the world: "He is alive!" They were the first to tell the world all hope was NOT lost. And they were afraid. But what if they had been too afraid? What if they had refused their mission?
There are a couple specific things in my life today that present me with this odd mixture of joy and fear (although none of my fear is related to potentially being killed). These are things from which fear holds me back, but at the same time the potential for joy, the promise of things to come, spurs me forward. I will share one of those things with you: WRITING.
I recently finished the first draft of my second full-length novel and find myself faced with a decision: do I take this writing thing seriously and put myself out there and sacrifice time and energy and sometimes even money to get involved in the world of publishing or do I keep my writing tucked away as a hobby and spend my time and energy and money on other things? Thinking about pursuing writing as more than a hobby fills me with FEAR. But my love for writing and the hope of what "could be" fills me with joy.
So, what should I do? Is it a mission God's given me to do or is it a personal desire? I don't know yet. But I think about those women at Jesus' tomb and do know one thing: they set out to complete the task set before them in spite of their fear. In spite of the danger. In spite of it being hard. Because the joy they had from just being in Christ's presence and being part of His plan was enough for them.
Afraid yet filled with joy. Maybe there's something we can all learn from that.