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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Greatest Hopes and Greatest Fears—Two Sides of the Same Coin

Scripture Reference: Mark 8: 31-35:

Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, "The nation's leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life." Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, "Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God."

Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it.

“Cosmic irony,” the difference between the outcome of an event versus what was planned or hoped for, is a concept that works great in literature and movies but is not so amusing in real life.

When I was a teenager, I was chosen to wear the back-to-school line in a local style show. I selected three outfits from a trendy store and was told to show up on rehearsal day.

From then on, I daydreamed about “modeling.” I told my family. I told my friends. I practiced walking and turning in front of my bedroom mirror.

On rehearsal day, the director informed us that as we made our way around the stage toward the exit, we would have to stop and dance at three specific spots.

Ah, the moment of cosmic irony: Dancing was not part of the original deal.

Suddenly, there were strings attached to the gift that had so miraculously befallen me. Just as suddenly, the very last thing on the entire face of the earth I wanted to do was the thing I had looked forward to for weeks because dancing, for me, is akin to singing a solo in public. I didn’t just fear that I would look foolish; I knew I would. Thus, my greatest hope at that moment in my young life was ironically tied to my greatest fear.

That’s the way it often goes with human experience:

  • We hope for a great career after earning a degree, but we fear not finding a job or the right fit.
  • We want to get in shape or get organized, but we fear not completing our goals.
  • We want to write a book, but we fear it will never be published.
  • We desire a mate, but we fear we’ll make a mistake or be abandoned by that mate.
  • We desire children, but we fear dealing with terrible twos and teenagers.
  • We long for deep, meaningful friendships, but we fear being fully known.
  • We want to serve others, but we fear being burdened with endless needs and demands on our time and resources.
  • We desire our faith to grow and be proven, but we fear the life-changing trials.

Peter, who more than anything desired a Messiah, was disheartened when Jesus told him that, “… the Son of Man must suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.”

Oh, the moment of cosmic irony for Peter: Death of the Messiah was not part of the original deal. In fact, Peter took Jesus aside and told him to “stop talking like that.”

But Jesus fully accepted the strings attached to his messianic mission. And he encouraged his disciples to let go of fear and follow him.

He said to them: “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.”

Forgetting about yourself may mean recognizing that in this life you will have fear, often well-grounded, reasonable fear. The challenge (forgetting about yourself) is to let go of both your hopes and fears. Fear causes us to withhold, to clench things tightly in our fists.

Jesus asks us to loosen our grip on that which holds us back, to offer our hesitations and hopes to him. He encourages us to take heart, for he has overcome our greatest hopes and fears—indeed, he has overcome the world (John 16:33).


1. Finish this statement: “I truly, deeply desire ____, but I fear ____.”
2. What is one step that you could take today to loosen your grip on that which holds you back from trusting Christ?

My personal thanks to Pastor Matt who inspired me to write this.

Please visit Linda Crow at her personal blog:

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Blogger Susanne said...

Your questions at the end are something that I will have to really think on, Linda. I'm sure the list is a long as my arm. Very encouraging post to cause us to take a look at what holds us back and then to give them to Him. I needed this.

March 14, 2009 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Denise said...

Such a great post.

March 14, 2009 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Katelynn said...

There are so many things I can fill in thoses blanks with, but, I would say I deeply desire strong faith, but I fear what He would put before me!

You know, its something like if I prayed to the Lord to help me forgive people, I know He's going to put people who are like washing machines (agitators) in my face, just pushing my buttons all day long.

Who says Jesus doesn't have a sense of humor!

March 14, 2009 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

Oh, Linda. I could have been your poster child for this post. Fear and fear of failure are strongholds in my life! My husband and a close friend have helped me see the light, but I have a long, long way to go. Thank you!

(My word verification is "mello.")

March 14, 2009 at 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Linda! This entry sums up the last year of my life. I am afraid to let go of my current career to start anew one, but my biggest fear is not moving forward and trying.
I have to send this to my girlfriends!

March 16, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

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