To Face Unafraid

By Al Perrotta Published on December 21, 2017

For many, the Christmas season begins with the start of Advent. For me, it begins with the first playing of Andy. That is, the late, great Andy Williams. It just doesn’t count as Christmas season until one of Andy’s Christmas renditions come rolling out of my radio. 

Andy’s been a part of my Christmas as long as I can remember. We had two of Andy’s Christmas albums: The red one and the green one. Amazon would know them as The Andy Williams Christmas Album and Merry Christmas. Pulling out those vinyl records was as important as a putting up a Christmas tree. I especially loved “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” “Let It Snow” and his high-energy version of “Jingle Bells.” The slow songs were okay … I guess. I’ve grown to appreciate them and Andy Williams’ talent more and more as the years go by. 

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A Bracing Blow from “Winter Wonderland”

I must have heard Andy’s assorted Christmas recordings a thousand times. Know every note. Every nuance. I have sense memories of where the pops occurred on our vinyl albums. (Younger folks, ask the older folks what I’m talking about.) Yet, this year, the first time I heard Andy’s “Winter Wonderland” a lyric flew out and hit me like a snowball to the face. The singer and his beloved “conspire” and “dream by the fire.” They then bounce merrily along, “To face unafraid the plans that we made, walking in a winter wonderland.”  I had never caught the phrase “to face unafraid the plans that we made.”

Moreover, I believe it stood out to me for a reason.

I know all about Christmas, plans for the future … and fear. Still in me is the scared teenager holding tight to a chair in a dimly lit waiting room, Christmas 1978, as down the corridor cancer finished ravaging my dad. Then Christmas 1979, on the first anniversary of Dad’s death, his mother died, sealing the fearful realization: Christmas means death.

Each December anxiety would build. Who will it be this year? The fear that one year soon it would be me. Men in my family died young. I could not dream by the fire with my beloved. A friend innocently asked when we were getting hitched. I was struck with abject, unspeakable terror: “We’re going to get married! I’m going to die! She’s going to be destroyed and distraught like Mom! I can’t bear to do that to her!” Fear conspired.

I couldn’t face any plans unafraid. Travel. New experiences. Even new cuisines. Those would gradually be overcome. Relationships took longer. 

Yet there was no real overcoming of fear until Jesus grabbed me one day in a hallway. For freedom Christ set us free. But still sometimes I’d see bars even when they are no longer there. Even when God brought me my bride I had to be slapped upside the head during a church service by the Holy Spirit. “You’re afraid to marry her because of the ministry I have planned for you.” Again, a fear of plans.

Thank God, I overcame that.

Still, some days I wonder if my Secret Service code name would still be Scaredy Cat. 

And I think that’s why the song lyric jumped out at me this year: “To face unafraid the plans that we made.” 

I believe I’ve been offered a challenge.

The Planner, The Fearlessness

First off, what plans?  “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) God plans. And since we are in relationship, since I have been given free will, his plans for me are our plans. So there’s this God-crafted agenda for my future. I’m one with my wife, so she’s in on this as well. No offense to Parson Brown, but I’ve got the Lord himself joining Rusty and me on this romp.

But can I face these plans unafraid?  Yes! The same Abba father who says “I’ve got plans for you, son,” says “I’ve not given you a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) (Who needs a Fender Telecaster when you’ve been given power, love and self-discipline?)

Jesus emphasizes the point: “I do not give to you as the world gives,” he says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) His is a gift only an idiot would stand in line to return.  

What’s that mean this Christmas? What’s it mean heading into 2018 and beyond? I can face unafraid the plans that we’ve made. 

And with power and love and self-discipline I will not be knocked down as easily as “Mister Snowman.” We will walk into this winter wonderland. Walk with kingdom purpose and boldness. After all, Christmas does not mean death, for Christ means life!

 

Alright, Andy, bring it home … 

 

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