While I was in a store today, a very frightened little girl who couldn't find her grandmother came up to the cashiers for help. The poor little girl was very upset until her grandmother showed up because she thought she was left all alone. When the grandmother arrived, she asked her little granddaughter, “What did I tell you? Didn’t I tell you to stay with me?” This scenario reminded me of a passage I read this week in the gospel of John.
After His Last Supper with His disciples, Jesus spoke words of comfort to them prior to all that was about to transpire. He told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27 NIV). Just a few verses later, He continued, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you…If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing ... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:4-7 NIV).
I had never seen a connection between the two commands “Do not be afraid” and “Remain in me” before, but remember the little girl? Her grandmother did not want her to be afraid, so she told the girl "stay with me." If the little girl had obeyed her grandmother and had stayed with her, she wouldn’t have been alone, and she wouldn’t have been afraid.
I don’t know about you, but I often struggle with the oft-repeated command not to be afraid. It might be a difficult command to obey, but I think it would be much easier to obey “Do not be afraid” if we did a better job of obeying “Remain with me.”
I saw the little girl a little while later and there was no trace of fear anymore because she was with her grandmother. When we are struggling with fear, maybe we should assess whether or not we are where we are supposed to be. Are we obeying Jesus’ instructions to “Stay with me”?