Do it afraid

Rev. Tracy Heilman
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Courtesy photo
            Rev. Tracy Heilman

Journeys in Faith

Throughout the stories of our Christian faith, there are particular themes that are repeated over and over again.

Slaves are set free, captives are released, and the sick are restored to community. Strangers are welcomed, foreigners are granted hospitality, and neighbors are cared for.

You remember the familiar stories of Hebrew slaves in Egypt; folks with medical conditions able to be back in their community; strangers/angels welcomed by Abraham and Sarah; Mary and Joseph given a room at the inn. . .

Perhaps the most repeated theme is unremarkable people being chosen to commit remarkable acts of love and courage.

Shiphrah and Puah, midwives who refused to follow instructions to kill babies, bring a generation into being.

Moses with his stutter is chosen to speak on behalf of the captives.

David, the youngest son of a forgettable tribe, is chosen to defend and lead his people.

And they do these remarkable things while being afraid. The Rev. Rachael Keefe, a colleague of mine, blogs about this at

I’m sure David was afraid the first time he had to defend his family’s flock from wild animals. He probably was afraid as he approached the king and offered to fight the seemingly undefeatable Philistine. He had every reason to fear Goliath. But he did not let his fear stop him from the task to which God called him. 1 Samuel 17:32-49.

In Mark 4:35-41, the disciples clearly were afraid while the storm raged around their small boat while Jesus slept in the stern. Simon, Andrew, James and John all were experienced fishermen and certainly knew the dangers that a sudden storm could bring to their small craft.

Fear was, and is, sometimes a very reasonable response. How were they to know that Jesus would calm the storm? They learned that they can respond to Jesus’ invitation and trust in his care.

Goliaths wear many faces today, and Philistines around us will do whatever they can to keep us paralyzed by fear. Goliaths run the show, and they want us to believe that their power, their might, their weapons are far too much for any one insignificant, unremarkable person to confront.

But David reminds us that our God does not call us to tasks and then abandon us. God equips us and accompanies us so that our fear does not guide us. Our fear does not guide us. God’s call guides us. God’s extravagant love guides us. God’s abiding presence calls us.

Friends, we are not in the boat alone. We have not been invited on a journey of faith and then left abandoned. Jesus is with us, calming our storms and filling us with courage so that we can do it. And it is perfectly okay to do it afraid ,because Jesus is in the boat with all those who seek peace, promote healing, and embody love.

We are not alone, and we are not without the gifts that can bring about the realm of God. Because in the face of Goliaths’ reliance on fear and might, love is disruptive. In the face of Goliaths’ disregard for others, care is revolutionary. In the face of Goliaths’ attempts to divide and conquer us, our deep connections to God and to each other will corrode every and all horror they try to inflict.

The deep truths of our sacred stories of faith are being lived out in our time. God’s desire for liberation and equality and goodness and mercy for all God’s people is at odds with the desires of the Goliaths of our time. God is calling out to us to commit remarkable acts of love and care and connection.

“Friends, we are not in the boat alone. We have not been invited on a journey of faith and then left abandoned.”