BYU professor and the voice of “Music and the Spoken Word” Lloyd Newell spoke about overcoming fear at the University Devotional on Dec. 9.
He began by telling the story of the first Christmas, tracing the angelic messages of John the Baptist’s and Christ’s births to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.
The angels uttered the words, “Fear not,” during each appearance. “God had a monumental task for each of them; their lives were about to change forever. Imagine if they had let fear overcome them,” Newell said.
Newell focused his remarks on the Bible message in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Newell said power, as it is written in this verse, does not refer to the world’s idea of power but to a more eternal nature. He said it was the power of God, which is deeper, higher and holier. “Where worldly power is for the privileged few, the Lord’s power is available to all,” he said.
Newell described this strength as a “fearless power”; those who have it seem fearless because, through their deep and abiding faith in God, their spiritual power is undeniable. He said this power allows them to unflinchingly do things God’s way even if it’s different from the world’s. “If you are fearful because you feel powerless, I invite you to turn to the Lord … trust in God’s power, for it is mightier than any power on earth.”
Newell spoke of the Christlike love missionaries are granted as they go out into the world to share God’s message. “We all know young missionaries who couldn’t even spell Guatemala, let alone find it on a map, when they got their mission call,” he said. “But by the time they returned, they had the Guatemalan flag hanging on their bedroom wall and memories of beloved Guatemalan people in their hearts.”
Newell related a story from President Gordon B. Hinckley’s life as an example of Christlike love. President Hinckley went to his wife, Marjorie, after their engagement, worried that married life in the economic depression of the 1930s would be ill-conceived. He told her he only had $150 to his name.
Marjorie lovingly calmed his fears and later reflected, “I had hoped for a husband, and now I was getting $150 too.” Newell said their faith and love allowed them to “fear not” as they started a life together.
Newell described “sound” to mean safe, secure or reliable and said listeners could achieve a sound mind by anchoring themselves to the rock of Christ.
He gave the example of Nephi’s brother Jacob, who feasted on the scriptures and cherished them. Jacob’s beliefs could not be shaken, even when tested against the world’s views.
Newell told listeners if they build their lives on a firm foundation similar to Jacob’s, God will trust them with more of his word, will and help. Their hearts and minds will be unfazed by the latest trends in world views, and they will be unafraid to receive truth.
He quoted the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” and asked listeners to take courage from its words.
“He tells us not to fear because he knows that fear with paralyze us. It will keep us from knowing and doing his will, accepting his blessings, his love and his light and fulfilling his purposes,” Newell said. “Satan wants us to give in to fear. God wants us to hold onto hope.”