The Wallaby: Freedom from Fear, Introduction


Wallaby

He hopped right over to me and let me pet him. He was soft and cuddly, absolutely adorable. But most importantly, he wasn't afraid.

The other wallabies in this enclosure at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand kept their distance. A sign outside the enclosure asked all visitors to respect them, as some of them had young babies, so I was especially surprised when this friendly little guy not only came to me, but let me pet him for several minutes.

As I was petting him, I couldn't help looking to the other wallabies in the enclosure with longing in my heart. I didn't necessarily want to pet them all. I didn't have enough hands for that! But it would have made me happy if they hadn't been afraid of me, if they had known that I wasn't going to hurt them, that I only wanted to show them love.

I didn't really blame them, however. A group of young children followed us into the enclosure and immediately began chasing the wallabies, yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. This was obviously the kind of treatment they were used to, and there was nothing I could do to make them understand that I wasn't in the same category as those screaming children.

God has a similar, but much more global problem. He wants nothing more than to hold us in His arms, comfort us, love us, and strengthen us. But so many in this world hold back.

Just like the mother wallabies were especially interested in protecting their babies, we feel the need to hold on to things, to try to protect them ourselves. Our children are a good example, but we tend to hold on to an entire gamete of problems. But God tells us to lay our burdens at His feet, to lay our children, as well as ALL of our problems in His hands: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV). He wants us to understand His love so thoroughly that we will come to trust Him with ALL of our burdens!

So what keeps us from this ideal?

In a word, Fear.

Fear of being hurt. Fear of relationships. Fear of trust.

God doesn't blame us for our fear. He understands. We have been hurt so many times. Human relationships are imperfect and often result in rejection and pain. These relationships teach us to trust NO ONE but ourselves!

God also knows with sadness that there have been, and continue to be, horrible atrocities done in the name of religion. He understands that this has produced an atmosphere of confusion. People have been hurt by false religions, by the false images of God that they have been given. They have become afraid of the One who loves them the most. In fact, they don't even believe He loves them!

When it was time to leave the wallaby enclosure, I couldn't help standing by the gate and looking back at my wallaby friend. Then my eyes shifted to all of the other wallabies, and my heart yearned to help them overcome their fear.

Unlike my inability to make a way for the wallabies to understand I didn't want to hurt them, God has already made a way: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV) God loved us so much that He sent what was most precious to Him to die for us, that we might experience His love and be able to return to the loving, trusting relationship He created us for.

And now, just like the one wallaby came to me, He wants nothing more than for us to come to Him so that He can heal us, take away our fear, strengthen us, and guide us: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1 NIV)

God longs for us to have freedom from our fear, for only when we do will we be free to love, free to live, free to have a personal, close relationship with Him!

Lyn Chaffart , Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org

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