Friday, October 28, 2011

Embracing Fear

Sometimes the fear is good. I know that fear is classified as “sin” most of the time, unless it is the fear of God, but sometimes, I embrace my fear instead of running away from it.
Let me explain.
When I was little, I was terrified of thunderstorms. I had some scary experiences as a child, and for me, thunderstorms often meant at least a power outage and the threat of tornadoes. I also had a large window in my room that did nothing to block the bright streaks of lightning, which promptly woke me up.
Filled with fear, I would go downstairs to my parents’ room. If they didn’t let me in their bed, then I would make a pallet on the floor. And if they still said no, then I would move to the couch.
To me, my parents equaled safety. For some reason, as a child, I believed that if a storm or tornado was coming, it couldn’t touch me as long as I was close to my parents. I also believed that if a tornado was coming, then they would hear it and move my sisters and I to safety.
My fear of storms caused my faith and trust in my parents to grow stronger because I believed, no matter what, they could protect me. In their presence, I was safe.
Today, I have a lot of small fears such as clowns, mimes, roller coasters, people without clothing, snakes, free falling from thousands of feet in the air, possums, etc. These fears I believe are completely legitimate, and I have no intention of overcoming them, so don’t even try to help me.
Yet there are other fears, deep fears, which can be crippling if I let them… Telling someone I love how I really feel, the unknown, failure, rejection, disappointing others, facing new situations and circumstances.
The temptation is to run home, dive under my covers, and stay in bed away from the dangers of venturing into the world.
With every fiber of my being, I want to be safe. I don’t what to get hurt. I sure as heck don’t want to hurt others either.
But if I run away, then I miss out on life.
Instead, I embrace my fear. And in my fear, I run to Him.
I feel like I am standing at the beginning of a road. All around me is blackness except for a single light in the distance. I want Him to light the past for me, to make everything bright so I can see.
But He never promised to make everything bright. Instead, He promised to be my light, to hold my hand as I walk, very slowly, in the darkness.
Did I mention I am afraid of the dark?
I hate it. I kick and I scream, but I don’t want to let go. Because, even more so than my fear of the dark, I am afraid of being alone. So I cry and beg for Him not to leave me, to never let go.
And He puts His arm around my shoulders, and He pulls me closer, and He grabs my hand tighter, and He whispers, “I will never leave you or forsake you”.
In my fear, I run to Him, faster and faster. Because, I will face anything, as long as I am with Him.
I embrace my fear, and my faith and trust in Him grows stronger. Because, I believe, no matter what, He will protect me. In His presence, I am safe.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

He Doesn't Know

He doesn't know he's an orphan.

All he knows are the walls surrounding him. He was born inside these walls, has spent his life here.

He doesn't know she couldn't keep him. I believe in my heart she wanted to, but she had no options. She had offers... offers to send him elsewhere. But in the end, she kept him where he would be safe, loved.

He doesn't know his mother is gone. Or maybe, he does. Could one so young really understand? Or maybe there is just an awareness of something missing. We often like to think little ones are oblivious, but they know... deep down, they know.

He knows that when he is hungry, he is fed. When he is dirty, he is bathed. When he needs to sleep, there is a place for him to rest. But he doesn't now this isn't forever.

He doesn't know that I miss him, that sometimes, like now, it physically hurts because I can't hold him.

There are milestones missed... the crawling, babbling, first words, and first steps.

He doesn't know that I pray, consistently, for him... that he is held, protected, healing, loved.

He doesn't know I wait anxiously, dreaming of the day when I can finally be with him again to hold and snuggle. But it still hurts because he won't know me anymore. The trust I worked so hard to build will be gone, because I left.

There are things I have to give to God, trusting that He is bigger. For some reason, this little one was placed in my life... for a season, forever, I don't know. But I will pray and I will fight on his behalf until God says otherwise.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Art of Letting Go

      The water is cold. It stings a little, the shock of it's coolness against my bare skin. I wiggle my toes deeper into the sand, as if by burying myself I can be more firmly planted, more united with the water and its movement.

     The sun is gentle, high above my head, but not bearing down on me as Florida sunshine typically likes to do. That delicious wind, full of salt and promise, flows around me. I have been near the ocean in other countries, but the breeze does not carry the same feeling as this wind. I have grown up with this wind. It has been a prominent figure in many memories I have had throughout life, both good and bad. We are old friends.

     In my hand, two rocks, labeled with names. I clutch them close to me, scared of dropping them in the water, releasing them too soon....

     Over the past few weeks, I have been praying that God would teach me the art of letting go. You see, I like my plans, my issues, my baggage. I feel comfortable with them. I am used to them. They have become a part of me.

      Yet, ever so gently, the relentless Lover of my soul has been revealing things to me that are holding me back from Him. As I am about to embark on a new journey in life, one that will take me deeper than I can even imagine at this point, I have to remove the excess. I have to remove what is not drawing me closer to him.

      But, it's so hard. I know God wants what is best for me, and I know that he will be glorified. But I am afraid. You see, I have been trying.... oh so desperately trying.... to let go. Some baggage I have been holding onto for years.

     And you know what? As much as I try and sacrifice and lay everything down on the altar, I still can't. Because, on my own, I am not strong enough.

      He then led me to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is given his long awaited child, and then, he is asked to sacrifice him. God asks what is seemingly impossible to me, and Abraham says yes. How could he just say yes? How could he offer his son to you like that?

      He was able to do so because he "assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again." (Hebrews 11:19)

      God had already done these amazing miracles in Abraham's life... the latest bringing him a child in his old age. So, if God asked him to do this, then there must be a plan in there somewhere and God would work it out.

       But, here is my question: What if Isaac had died, and God didn't bring him back? What then?

       There in lies my question... the real reason why I can't let go: What if I release these names, these dreams, and these plans, and then, I don't get them back? What do I do?

       You trust.

      Are you kidding me? There is no way it's that simple. Do you not understand God? This is everything to me. Where do I go from here?

       You trust.

      I have to admit, I am tired. So tired. It's like I have been walking around with a huge weight on my back... a weight I was never meant to carry. I am tired of wrestling with God, compromising, and trying to figure things out on my own.

      The problem is, the water in Florida is not very clear. I could paint these rocks neon and still would not be able to find them once I throw them into the ocean. In the same way, He asks me to let go with no promise of returning.

      His ways are higher. His love is sure. He is strong, and he is good. He does not abandon.

      Do I really believe this?

      Do I really believe that God is who He says He is?

      Do I trust?

      One by one, I open my fingers that have been so desperately curled around my rocks. They lay flat on my palms. I speak their names. I speak my dreams, my hopes, my fears, everything I had so carefully planned. Then I breathe. And then, I throw.

       Two rocks, representing everything I am, everything I have been clinging to with bloody and exhausted fingers. Gone. Into the deep ocean.

      I stand there, staring for a moment. The familiar feeling of peace washes over me. The feeling that He is with me, He is pleased, and I am walkign towards Him. I am free. I am letting go.

      I love this mental imageof throwing rocks into the ocean, because it is so final. Only God could find those rocks... just as letting go is supposed to be final, and those dreams will only resurface if he lets them.

      But I will not wait around and hope for those dreams to resurface. Instead, I will live, and I will trust.

     And what do you do when a giant weight has been lifted off your weary shoulders for the first time?

     You run. Deep into the sunset. Into the heart of God.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Promises Meant to be Kept

I feel like such an idiot sometimes.

I have seen it over and over again. His faithfulness, His goodness, His complete fulfillment of promises and dreams. I have seen, heard, and testified.

And yet, I still doubt.

Thank God his plans are not completely dependent upon the strength of my faith, or else, we wouldn't get anywhere.

"You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said." Luke 1:45

"God, who calls you is faithful; he will do this." 1 Thesselonians 5:24

I sat in church tonight, listening as my grandmother shared the story of God's faithfulness to a man in their congregation. Long story short, God had completely provided for this man to have extensive oral surgery and orthodontics. The cost of his medical care was well over fifty thousand dollars, and little by little, God met every need for this man.

Am I not this same God? He whispers gently. I, the one who provided, am the same one who has called you. I have set you apart. Stand aside and watch as I amaze you. I see you. I do not call you, only to abandon you.

It is so easy to be filled with doubt and fear. That's what the enemy loves to throw at me... fears and worries.

I had begun to notice in my life that since saying "Yes" to God about a few things that I felt so tired. I was tired emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I blamed my workload. I blamed my inability to make myself sleep at a decent hour. I blamed a lack of coffee. As tired as I was, I was also feeling very numb and apathetic to everything around me.

I lost my joy...

Realizing this, I sat down with the Lord and began to ask what was going on. He led me to Psalm 51:

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...
Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
(Verses 6 and 12)

And so, I then began to confess sins, asking Him to bring to mind what was holding me back.

Fear. Worry. Lack of trust. Doubts.

I was taking my eyes off of my Jesus, and as a result, I began to sink. I have this problem with wanting the approval of others. I crave it. Yet, in seeking the approval of others, I have been missing out on the approval of the one who matters most.

No matter how good the intentions of the ones who give advice are, they are not God. They do not know the promises He has spoken to me. They only know what they can see from the surface, looking through the eyes of man, and not the eyes of God.

And so I wait, quieting the voices around me. Choosing to believe in a God who's patience with me is never ending. His faithfulness is proven, tested. And when I am tempted to doubt and fear, I reflect on His promises and I find peace.

I am still not perfect at this. I feel very much like Thomas: Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief.
Faith: the yearning for things hoped for, believing in what is not yet seen.

And in these moments of peace and rest, I have rediscovered my joy. 

I am waiting expectantly for Him to step in as my faithful provider. I am waiting for him to step in and say, "Watch what I am going to do in this."

I know He will.I want to be blown away, and God, I give you complete permission to do so. And when He does, you will definately know.