Near the end of Matthew, I found a little phrase that I thought was interesting. So short you can easily miss it. Yet intriguing enough that I read it over and over (and of course, underlined profusely).
“…afraid yet filled with joy…”
Yup, that’s it.
Here it is in context:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
These two Marys were given an assignment to go tell the disciples about Jesus. They were on their way to fulfilling it…all the while feeling afraid yet filled with joy.
I’ve had those mixed feelings before – fear and joy. I have felt that mix with the bigger stuff of life – like getting married and having a baby.
Afraid and nervous yet filled with joy to say yes to trusting and intricately joining myself to another person.
Afraid (who’s kidding…terrified) yet over the moon to welcome a little “us” into the world and start this new season, giving my life to raise the next generation.
This feeling often comes rushing in when I’m doing something God has told me to do – whether something big like the above or seemingly small like praying for someone. In it all, I’m typically scared and a whole lot excited. When I follow through on something I hear God tell me to do, I get that feeling: terrified yet overJOYed. It’s a wonderful feeling. Glorious, really. It’s the feeling of being aware of a God that longs to be close and yielding to his voice and his lead…not because I have to but because I want to and because I’ve learned he’s faithful and very, very good.
“You don’t want perfection, just my soul’s attention.” This is a line from a song that’s currently on repeat. Very slowly, I’m learning that this is his heart. This is the heart of God – looking past my striving and proving and whispering, “I don’t want perfection…I just want your attention, Britt.”
When I give Jesus my attention, other things fall away. I hear him speak to me “What is it to you, Brittany? You gotta follow me…” over and over, breaking through my pride and, ever so slowly, forming in me something lovely out of what feels like a lot of ugly, sometimes. When I give him my attention, it leads to adventures and opportunities to say yes to him. With every yes and every time I’ve walked out that yes, what undoubtedly comes with it is that “afraid yet filled with joy” feeling. And that’s a really, really good feeling.