A friend recently sent me a podcast where the host and guest were talking about fear. Oh, joy. As it was a business/health podcast I was expecting a tidal wave of shame-speak about carrying fear and how it was anti-productive. As I've struggled with fear throughout my life, and I've been learning to manage with Jesus and counseling the anxiety it creates in me, this would not be news to me. After a couple of days I decided to read the transcript anyway; I was blown away by what I read.
As they were talking the guest said, "The more further you’re out in the future, the more room for fear to enter." It's the unanswerable "What if?" questions that pour gas on the fire of fear. My mind jumped to 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (ESV), and connected the two. And as I was attempting to sort it all out John 15 flashed through my mind: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (ESV). What can all these connections mean?
And then this image came to mind: we can rest when we're not afraid. When we're connected with God, he keeps us in the moment - in the present. Jesus invites us not to worry about tomorrow, but to remember how well God provides for the birds and the flowers of the earth. When we rest we can absorb these experiences deep within us. Overtime they create the grounded foundation of feeling known and experiencing God's love for us from which we can boldly move out and forward and take risks, adventure with God, and do so with the courage of a well-loved child.
Fear invites us to worry about what's next. God's love invites us into the freedom of today.
What would you do today if you weren't afraid?
Where do you sense God's gentle invitation in your life? I'd love to know. Share in the comments below.
In closing, a prayer written by Janet Morely in All Desires Known:
From fear of staying still, O God deliver me
From fear of surrender, O God deliver me
From fear of decision, O God deliver me
From fear of losing respect, O God deliver me
From fear of facing my fear, O God deliver me
But from the fear that marks your presence
I beseech you O God, do not deliver me.
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Today I was painting - a water color and acrylic piece - that I've been working on for about a week now. The piece has a recipient and I'm excited to get it to them, but I keep having to wait for paint to dry. Feels a little like waiting for water boil ... something about a watched pot ...? That's how I feel waiting for each layer to set and hold up so I can work a little more.
A little more, a little more. And because of how I paint I typically don't have the end goal in mind. So as I'm waiting for the paint to dry I'm also waiting to see what it becomes - and in my excitement I get impatient. I want to jump to the end so I can know the outcome. I want to see the finished product. I want to know what's ahead so I can maneuver; waiting isn't apart of my plan.
Like my painting process, Jesus waits for us to set and hold so he can work a little more. If I rushed ahead (like I'm often to antsy to do) all the colors would blend together and become indiscernible. They would become mud on my palette. Jesus, lovingly patient and so not in a rush for our transformation, lets each layer of change, growth, or pain to set or heal so he can work a little more. He knows working ahead of what we can handle would do more damage than good. So he waits. He works a little. He waits again. Each time inviting us into the process of transformation; his desire is not to do to us, but with us as we surrender to the work of his hands to make us who we most truly are.
How are you sensing God's invitation to you today?
Is it to rest and heal? Perhaps it's an invitation to take a risk or make a new move. Maybe it's a call to sit still and listen.
May you respond with courage to the invitation of God in your life today, wherever you are and in whatever way you are able. And may you remember: one small step today is enough; God can work with that.
Today while browsing the inter-webs for interesting articles and resources I stumbled upon one that just about knocked me over inside. I felt a bit side-swiped, and completely seen at the same time (maybe a little too seen, if I'm being honest).
Read the article here.
In it the author writes things like:
The irony of God's universe is that limitations actually set us free to be the people God created. If all my time and focus goes to becoming someone else I am essentially running on a treadmill rather than on the road. Because saying yes to who God has made you to be is scary -- what if I don't like who God's made me to be? What if it doesn't feel like enough? Gut-wrenchingly painful questions.
And in the light of those questions it is so easy to put your head down in the sand and just carry on. Maybe that's all you have the capacity to do. Maybe looking at those scary questions straight in the face feels like too much for today. God can work with that.
Jesus' invitation to you is to show up, empty hands or full hands, it doesn't matter. God can work with that. Because maybe the journey isn't becoming someone else you admire (or maybe are jealous of); maybe the journey is to eventually like who you actually are, because maybe who you are is bright and wonderful, funny and quirky, and great with couponing or making art or running her business' social media with passion and feistiness. And maybe, over time, you'll begin to see more of what Jesus was up to when he created you: a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
And finally, remember God gave you the desires you have not to put them high up on a shelf so they don't break. Go break a few, grieve their loss or undesired outcome, then, when it's time, allow new desires to grow inside you because loss is not the end of the line with God -- God renews. Sitting there dusting off your shelved desires once a week is the only guaranteed way to make sure they don't come to pass.
Jesus, have mercy.