How to Have Energy for the New Year, Part 3:
One More Star…And a Handful
January 27, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning!
We’ve been talking together these weeks about how to have new energy for the new year. I have an idea for you this morning that comes from our Holy Scripture, but first, let’s review a little bit about where we’ve been.
We’ve been talking about the idea that each of us has an invisible backpack that we carry around with us, that we put things into. We put in our experiences, our agenda, our skills, our thoughts, and our feelings. We carry them through the day. And that helps us get through the day. But in that backpack also can be stumbling stones, of regret, of hurt. We talked about taking those stones out, learning from them, and gently putting them by the side of the road.
Last week we talked about filling the backpack with stars, with uplifting things, with uplifting ideas, uplifting feelings. We talked about one in particular. Anybody remember that key word? Trust! Trust in God when you’re having a tough time. When you’re challenged by things, just think “Trust!” and let the power of that word, short for “Trust in God,” fill you and lift you up and take the weight off that backpack.
Today is the final installment of this series, and I would like to talk with you today about one more star – plus a handful – for your backpack. My dear friends, I think tremendous energy can be released for you and for your living in this year by this particular star. I want to talk with those of you today who are experiencing something you fear, experiencing something that takes away your energy because you are afraid to move ahead with it. Friends, I would like you to put in your backpack a beautiful glowing star that says “Courage,” the courage of Christ for the living of these days.
My friends, we have a wonderful scripture, a treasure, in front of us this morning. Take a look at it with me, won’t you? From Psalm 27, verse 1 – oh, I pray you take this into the week with you! Let’s read it together:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
Those are our marching orders for the week, my friends. Let’s take a close look. “The Lord is my light” – picture a glowing star lighting your path, shining insight on your way. That’s who God is to us. “and my salvation” – what does salvation mean? It comes from the Greek soterios. It means wholeness, wholeness of mind and body and spirit. If you like to draw, you might draw a star on a piece of paper and write ‘courage’ on that star. Put a circle around that star; that circle stands for salvation, for wholeness of body and spirit.
Then the scripture says, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Picture a castle, won’t you? Picture your soul in a castle. The Lord is the protector of you, of your soul. And that gives us courage!
Let me ask you something. I wonder if anyone is dealing with a roaring lion in their lives. The roaring lion is the symbol of that which makes you afraid, that which scares you, that which you’d rather avoid, because it’s roaring. We want to avoid it. Maybe it’s something you’ve got to do or deal with. You’d rather stay away. Maybe it’s a person who strikes fear in your heart. Maybe it’s something inside you that you need to confront and deal with, but it’s been there so long that you don’t want to.
My friend, I have an invitation for us today. If there is a roaring lion in your life, or if there comes one, and it has made us up until now shirk away in fear, avoid, procrastinate, whatever, may I invite us to do this? Walk forward, go up to the cage, open the cage, and walk right up to the roaring lion, and confront him. If it is a person, confront him with respect and care and intelligence and clarity. Go up to the roaring lion and say, “We need to have a chat,” and share your feelings. Confront your lion, and speak to it.
My friend, if you do – if you walk into the lion’s cage – I think you’ll find some remarkable things. I think you will find that the roaring lion will stop roaring, and that you might learn some remarkable things about yourself and liberate a whole lot of energy for the living of these days. Because it’s when we walk into the lion’s cage and are brave with the courage of Christ that we can make progress in our lives and open up the flow of God’s energy in our lives. Oh, it’s my prayer for you. If you’ve got something that you’ve been fearing, if you’ve got an issue in your life that you need to confront, walk in bravely, and know that you’re not alone. You go with God.
You know, the Twenty-Third Psalm, one we all love, has a beautiful verse. It says, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” You don’t go into the lion’s cage alone; you go in filled with the spirit of Christ. And so, my friends, amazing amounts of energy can be liberated if you open up the cage and walk in, and talk to that lion, saying, “We need to have a chat.” You may find that that calms the situation immediately. And you’ll find that a great deal of confidence comes to you, because you have taken on the star of courage.
There’s a story told about a little boy about nine years old. He loved to ride his bike to and from school. Everyday, he rode along the same path, except one day, things changed. As he was riding home from school on his bicycle, he noticed that on the other corner, across the street, there was an older child standing there with a strange grin on his face. The older child had a handful of rocks. As the boy on the bicycle rode by, the older child took a rock and threw it at him…and threw and threw and threw. He hit the child on the bike many times. It was painful for him. Worse, it happened every day. Every time the little boy on the bike rode past that corner, he’d get hit by the rocks. He was very sad about that. As the school day ended, he became more and more fearful about what was going to happen when he rode past the other boy.
One day, the fellow on the bike decided he had had enough. He saw the child with the strange grin standing there on the corner. And instead of riding as far away on the other side of the road as he could, he changed his path and went over to the side where the rock thrower was. He rode his bike up onto the sidewalk and rode as fast as he could toward the rock thrower. He didn’t know what he was going to do; he didn’t know how to fight. But he rode as fast as he could, and he jumped off the bike, and he started running toward the kid that had the rocks in his hand.
As he approached that boy, guess what happened! The rock thrower dropped the rocks and ran and ran and ran away and never came back again. The young fellow with the bike was able to ride past that corner every day thereafter safely.
What is the point? The point is, when you walk into the lion’s cage, things change and things happen. When we confront our fears, when we confront the things that we were hesitant to deal with, amazing energy can be liberated. Ideas in our heads can be bullies. They can bully us, just as that rock thrower was bullying the little boy on the bike. But remember this, won’t you? With God’s help, with the help of Jesus Christ, and the help of the Holy Scripture, a bully is a bully until the bully is stood down. It makes a difference.
So, my dear friends, my prayer for you this week is that you would take this scripture to heart. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” May your prayer be, “Here, Lord, enough of my energy has been consumed by my fear. I will walk into the lion’s cage, face the lion head-on, and the lion will quiet down.”
Also, we may find that in doing that, in taking on the Lord’s strength, in confronting our fears head-on, that lion has become a blessing in disguise. Maybe that lion has a lesson to teach us about what we’re really made of, about how strong we can be, about who we really are in Christ. My prayer for you is that if you need to confront the lion, that you would, and that doing so would liberate energy for you and would make you aware of a handful of stars in your pocket, all those wonderful things to be grateful for, every moment of life that you’ve been distracted from, by the anger, by the hurt, by the fear. Once that evaporates, you can see this handful of blessing stars that are yours, and enjoy them, and have energy for the new year and beyond. May it be so for you, through Jesus Christ.
Would you join me in prayer? Let us pray.
Dear Lord, our God, I pray for all these wonderful people. May they be liberated from their fears. May they confront their lions bravely. May those whom they love and all who read this sermon also be liberated with the light and the salvation of Christ, so that their days may be lived energetically and well, walking with you every day. We pray this in Jesus’s holy and powerful name. Amen.
God loves you, friend. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski