BE NOT AFRAID By Lori A Alicea

It was one of those days.

Kids were just being kids.
Pushing beyond their boundaries;
Testing their limits;
Double-dog daring themselves.

Kids catching their panicked Gaga off guard.

I look up into the tall tree expecting birds and see my granddaughters having casual girl-time wedged between the branches.
USE THIS 1I sit down to enjoy my coffee outside on a quiet morning only to find our grandsons attempting bicycle wheelies and feats after lifting “off” from Papa’s ramps.

Kids playing tag at the playground with the person tagged as “it” is blindfolded.

Hello little people!   What’s happening here?
Gaga’s Book of Safety Rules is being violated cover to cover.

Obviously Gaga is a kill-joy, a Debbie-downer.
But I would like to return these babies back to their parents without needless bumps and bruises.

But as expected, our oldest tree climber slipped on a low branch which she held onto for life until her feet touched the ground.

Tagged person “It” left the playground with a bloody lip and a trip to Urgent Care.

Ramp-daredevil hit the ground going mid-air, at least as measured on his scale of interpretation.
USE THIS 6All non-threatening injuries and thank you Jesus for that.

Thank you ministering angels for keeping watch over us in situations we have no idea we face.

Help us Jesus to “Be Not Afraid” when we want to try again, when we want to face our fears after falling once before.

Looking back at the little girl I once was, I remember enjoying the toy-box of childhood as my grandchildren do. I loved the swings at the school playground, riding my bike around the neighborhood, and not necessarily climbing trees, but pushing beyond the limits in front of me.  I loved life as a young girl.  Creativity found me early and became a lifelong friend.  I savored the smell of books and far-away places that these bound travel agents took me to.  I treasured a stack of blank paper that begged for my written words.  I had no idea what the “real world” looked like hidden in the cocoon of my mother’s arms.

Why does life though have to become “real” to innocent children when their childhood is meant to be carefree and full of sweet memories? Why does fear have to creep through the cracks of the doors of our being like the unwanted thief it is and steal a child’s security from their tiny hands?  It happens.  It’s life.

But God is there to remind us,
“Be not afraid.
Do not fear.
You are not alone.
For I am with you.”

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10 NIV

One night as a young girl I awoke to my brother franticly re-creating a tragic scene to our mother that took place a few streets over. A nightmare painted in detail, a horror story told in my brother’s own words.  A girlfriend of mine from our 4th grade class and her family lay covered under the midnight sky on the front lawn, succumbing to a house fire while they slept.

Gripped from the devastating image my brother portrayed of a classmate I ate lunch with and after seeing for myself the charred remains of their house they sought security in, fear found its way to the front steps of a 4th grader’s heart and I hadn’t a clue I opened the door to let this stranger in.

Years would go by and the details of a tragic house fire that took my friend faded over time. I didn’t forget her though through the years of middle school and high school and even thought of her on graduation day, wondering what passport and flight her dreams would have taken her.

But make no mistake, fear may fade and hide in the closets of our heart, but will always come knocking in time and keep knocking until we learn to face our fears against the strength of our Heavenly Father, our security blanket we can embrace in the most troubling of times, whose arms will protect and embed in our being to

Be Not Afraid.

But that wasn’t me as a teenager taking a telephone call from my stoic uncle in Tacoma, Washington, a man normally bringing laughter to our conversation. Putting mother on the phone and witnessing her countenance turn to fear and tears, something was terribly wrong. Her mother, our grandmother, was found staggering in and out of her coherence, going door to door in the neighborhood for life-saving aid as her pajamas (not flame-retardant back then) caught fire, after getting too close to the stove.

Fear became so real again. How could something so horrific happen to our grandmother?  With Tacoma and all the miles between us, we couldn’t help our grandmother.  We grandchildren couldn’t stand by her side in her most dire need.  Teenagers don’t always know the right words to say to their parents as their mother lay dying, at least I didn’t.  Mother left for Washington to love and say good-by to a woman called mom, who lost her life a week later.
USE THIS GRANDMAI wish I could write the words THE END to the book called Tragedy in our family. Yet Life and Death are book-ends to the years we have been given on this earth and you don’t get a say what is written on the pages between.  Sadly, our great-grandfather met Jesus after taking his last breath in a house fire, a few years after my grandmother passed.
USE THIS GREAT GRANDPAWHY? WHY?  WHY?

You don’t blame God but you still ask the questions?
WHY?
Yet He still answers our broken hearts the same,

BE NOT AFRAID.

My confidence in God as a loving Father would be tested in a way that touched what was most precious to me, my heartstrings. Once and for all there’d be a showdown between fear and I and God wanted to win over my heart.  God, a loving Father, longs for his children to call on Him when they are afraid, so He could BE (in them) when fear had the audacity to knock on a Kings kid’s door.

It was a normal Friday night with me as a single mother and my two children, my sister, pseudo sister and her two children hung out together as a family. Our pseudo sister made her famous cheeseburgers and fries for dinner then after eating, we sent the kids into the back bedroom to play leaving us girls chatting the evening away.  With neither of us sisters dating at that time, we spent many Friday evenings together laughing and sharing each other’s children.

This particular night the youngest child barely talking with clarity kept trying to get our attention regarding a “fly” in the back bedroom where all four children played. Not wanting to be bothered, his mother kept sending him back repeatedly to the room.  Yet he persisted, pointing to the room where the “fly” was.  Soon enough the intensity of the moment escalated when we adults jumped up at the first smell of smoke, and ran to our children to see the bed on fire!

Jesus! Jesus!  My heart pounded while calling on the name of Jesus, rushing the children to safety.  The fire department came within minutes and doused the flames started by a child playing with a lighter, whose fire chief gave all four of them a lesson in fire safety.  Of course the nosey senior sister ladies living downstairs gave my then smoking sisters a what-to, “Those “bleeping” cigarettes.”

Emotionally collapsing from the weight of the moment, I held all four children close and thanked God for his protection, His ministering angels who hovered close that Friday evening after dinner.

Replaying over and over in my mind what could have happened but didn’t, I continued to praise God for keeping us close, especially four small children, in the safety of his arms during what could have been deemed another family tragedy.

A few days later at a Wednesday night prayer meeting God lovingly met me, that 4th grade girl on those front steps from so long ago, and revealed himself mighty regarding my fear.

Pastor always encouraged a few testimonies first before the meeting began and up walked a young couple.  This couple stated their position on the prayer team who was slotted to pray on Saturdays for the people of the church in their area, which turned out to be where I lived with my children.  But this past Friday night, the same night of the mattress fire, this couple felt a heavy urgency to pray Friday night for those living in their area instead of waiting until Saturday.

These two people hadn’t heard the about our tragic “close call” and had no earthly idea that God had used them to beat on Heaven’s door regarding a situation that they were unaware of with the exception of an urgency to pray.

WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE PRAY?

Heaven turns its ears to earth and listens close when GOD’S PEOPLE PRAY.

In the midst of our fires of life, God is there with us. He is our rope to cling to when we’re barely holding on. We can find confidence in every situation to

BE NOT AFRAID.

But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. John 6:20  KJV

We are reminded in the Bible when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown in the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, when the King himself was quoted as saying as he looked into the furnace:

“I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25 NIV

God was in the fire with these three men who vowed to only bow their knee to the one true God himself. God will also be there with us in our fires of life, whatever they may be.

Thank you God for protection.

Thank you God for sending your ministering angels to hover over us as we sleep or go about our day.

Thank you God that in the midst of the fires that are meant to consume us, you are there with us, that fourth man in the furnace.

Thank you God for being there to remind us,
“Be not afraid.
Do not fear.
You are not alone.
For I am with you.”

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.   Isaiah 41:10 NIV