Fear that Produces Peace

Fear.

I simply see the word written on paper and my mind floods with painful memories of times I’ve been in the heat of it. Words like: death, disease, divorce, disaster come crashing into my mind as if to remind me, “Ah yes, you have met fear before. In fact, you have quite a past history with this character.”

But is this relationship- this history built- with fear what God intended me to know, to become comfortable with? Often, I toss my hands in the air as if to say, “woe is me- this is just the cross that I bear”. I take the blows of the fearful situations because I assume they are just the consequences of a messed up world.

I take this mindset and get comfortable with it as if to wear a pair of shoes that don’t fit. Let’s face it, shoes that don’t fit are terribly uncomfortable but, if it’s all you’ve got, you settle in them anyway- especially if they “make the outfit”. The good Lord knows I don’t mess up a good outfit with the wrong pair of shoes.

Could I present you with a new idea about fear- a new pair of shoes if you will?

I don’t know that, as Christ followers, we need to go around wearing these shoes that don’t fit. If we are going to be wearing shoes, it gets to be the shoes that are “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6: 15 NIV) Interesting that the exact contrast of fear is peace, huh?

What if the meaning of “fear” has been tainted and twisted by the enemy to scare us and keep us in bondage to that thing of which we are scared?

What if God does want us to fear, but we have become so saturated with sin that we can’t even locate the authentic meaning of what fear is- the origination of the word by Him, through Him, and for Him.

In Philippians, Paul talks about fear by saying, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12 NIV) Or how about the English Standard Version which says, “…show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”

What if the authentic meaning of the word “fear” has less to do with a result (of a situation) and more to do with a response (of reverence for our Savior)?

Ponder this up and pray this out.

Peace.

Why Cry Out to God

Why Cry Out to God

I sat in the kitchen, folding laundry, sipping coffee, tears streaming down my face. I’m scared. I want to know what’s next but I don’t and that scares me. Naturally, I cry. Most often I cry in the face of fear because I know what lies on the other side of a fear becoming reality.

I hate the idea of experiencing grief again. It is such a temptation for me to allow my mind to settle into fear instead of crying out to God in the midst of fear. But today I’m so tired of settling into fear. Today, I’m reminded that I’m free in Jesus name. So today I went against my instinct to settle and cried out to God to show himself mighty where I feel so weak.

I told him I’m scared of pain and asked him to show me how to have hope here. 

I told him I’m scared to grieve again and asked him to show me how to trust (his continued faithfulness) here. 

I told him I don’t know how to stop focusing on the “what ifs” and asked him to help me learn how to rest in the “even ifs”. 

I’m so tired of living and doing life the same way I always have- in fear. I’m tired of trying to control life circumstances that are so uncontrollable anyway. I’m tired of reading the scripture and being moved by them but not changed by them.

Don’t you want to read these ancient words that are ever true and see them come to life? I do and I’m tired of tolerating anything less than all he has to give.

It’s occurred to me that I don’t know how any of this can happen if I first don’t cry out to God for help.

I think of times I ask my children questions that I already know the answer to, but I want to hear the answer in their own words and from their own heart. It’s in this space with them that we learn each other better, know each other more, and love is demonstrated where it couldn’t had they not talk to their mom.

I understand that God is different because he already knows our heart but there is something powerful that happens (for us) when we cry out to our Creator in complete vulnerability.

We must cry out to our Father.

 

Cry Out: to utter inarticulate sounds, especially of lamentation, grief, or suffering, usually with tears, to weep; shed tears, with or without sound, to call loudly; shout; yell (sometimes followed by out), to demand resolution or strongly indicate a particular disposition

 

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

    he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

    he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

    both now and forevermore.

 

If you want to read more on this topic, head over to In the Face of Fear post.

In the Face of Fear.

Have you ever been so consumed with fear that you find it hard to be the mom, friend, sister, daughter, wife you know God created you to be in the midsts of that fear? 

If you have read any of my writings, it is no secret I have wrestled with living in fear. I’ve been candid about the pain and torture of what it has been like for me and my family. It would not be a complete picture if I left you with just that picture- the torture. The truth is, I’m a woman who loves the Lord, wants to serve Him and be FULLY who He created me to be so tolerating being tortured by fear is not an option for me (though it is easy and tempting to accept it as my reality, “this is just who I am”.).

I have a piece of artwork hanging in my kitchen that says, “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’” I didn’t purchase and hang this piece for show but because it’s my hearts deepest desire. Don’t we all, as women of God, fully want to be who God created us to be? One thing I have learned for sure is living in fear will keep us from being that woman.

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Recently I have been faced with a choice- a choice to live in the fear of “what if” or the choice to take my thoughts captive and ask for the Lord’s help to trust His goodness- much like what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says. Both options take effort and energy if I’m being completely honest; however, my years of close relationship with the first allows me to say that the energy spent living in fear is wasted on us- always.

I wish I could say this makes choosing to take my thoughts captive easier but I’d be lying if I tried to convince you of such. However, what I now know is that although the initial choice brings great challenge, the result is much more rich. Simply put, living in fear has always birthed more fear and taking my fearful thoughts captive has always birthed a confidence of God’s goodness in my life. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

A dear friend- who knows all too well what it’s like to take her fearful thoughts captive- recently text this to me and it’s hanging on my refrigerator as a reminder of truth. I hope it does your heart some good today as I know it did mine.

“But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 NIV) You are waiting on HIM. HE is working behind the scenes. HE is obviously so near. HE is faithful to HIS promises.”

It was a few minutes after this text I heard my girls pointing and yelling to tell me to look up at the rainbow over my head. Thinking they saw a spot on the wall with a few colors that resembled a rainbow I looked up to appease them. Standing there in the kitchen, in the midsts of paying my bills and responding to my friend’s text, I looked up to find this…

God sees.

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The dear friend I refer to in this post is Krishana Kraft. She has recently authored a book called Tandem Living. I got the privilege of being a part of her book launch, and I can confidently say her book is one worth reading. She has such a testimony of God’s goodness to share with the world! You can learn more by clicking here. 

 

The sign in my kitchen is from The Shed. One of my favorite pieces of artwork!

Does God’s Goodness Always Feel Good?

I want the goodness of God to always feel good, but is this realistic?

When loss is the uninvited guest of our home, we feel something about it. The loss seems to invite feelings of grief, mourning, aching that crush the core of the one living in the loss.

It seems to be in these times we ache for answers to help us understand the purpose of the pain. “How can God be good when this is so painful?”, we say aloud or keep it tucked away in the secret parts of our heart so no one knows you are questioning the goodness of God.

God created us to have feelings and it doesn’t make us weak to express them. We hurt so we cry. We are excited so we laugh. We are happy so we smile. We are tired so we sleep (or are grumpy all day… if you’re anything like me). We are stressed so we drink wine. We lose a loved one so we grieve.

Yet when feelings become the dictator of our life, we can quickly lose heart. How do you respond when met with all of these feelings? Do you cast your cares on the Lord (Psalm 55:22 NIV)? Do you trust the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)? Do you let God’s love drive out your fear (1 John 4:18)? How you respond in the face of your feelings can be the regluing or undoing of you.

God’s goodness does not always feel good. The book of Job clearly exposes this reality. I wonder how many people walk around feeling wounded by God because they have allowed their feelings to be the dictator of their life.

Ten years ago, I would have confidently exclaimed God’s goodness and it would have felt good to say. I would even provide you with evidence of his goodness in my life, but the reality is this evidence was based on circumstances that felt good. My feelings dictated my belief about God’s goodness.

On June 24, 2011, my feelings became the most unreliable source of truth for me. I was met with the devastation that would forever change how I did life with the Lord. What appeared to be evidence of God’s abandonment was just the beginning of the stripping of a belief system that was faulty. He was soon going to cloth me with one that was true from the source of truth, my Jesus.

God’s goodness has not always felt good but, I can firmly say, He has always worked the pain for my good. It has been the saving of my soul that has been worth it all. With an aching in my gut and a tears welling in my eyes, I can testify that He has been worth it. It’s been through the  tragedies- that resulted from June 24- I have been gifted with some of the most intimate times with God, in turn deepening my faith.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) This Scripture does not say, “And we know that all things are good for us.” We can trust that He is going to work all things for our good even when it is not good for us.

Death is not good for us! Dear one, if death was good for us there would be no need for Jesus to come and die and be resurrected to save us from death. He died on that cross because death is not good for us. Death is terrible and excruciatingly painful and not what God intended when he created this world (Genesis 1-3 NIV).

If you are walking the road of losing a loved one, lean into Jesus. He knows this is not what is good for you but he will work it for your good. Abide in Him and you will produce lasting fruit and much of it, even though you feel as if you might die from grief (John 15).

If you are walking alongside someone who is grieving, will you share this truth with them? This may be the breath of fresh air they are longing for. This may be their break from the idealism of the well meaning that is suffocating them. They just may need someone to come and sit with them and say, “this is terrible”. Your friend can be in excruciating pain and still trust God is going to work this out for her good. I’m so grateful for the testimony of Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book Hope Heals,

No amount of catharsis or perspective finding will change the fact that our situation is terribly sad and deeply broken. I can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. I used to cry myself to sleep every night. But I have learned, above all other lessons, that healing for each person is spiritual. We will be fully restored in heaven, but we are actually healed on earth right now. My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls (page 18).

Are you struggling because you desperately want God’s goodness to always feel good?

I did too.

It feels like a crushing blow when this truth is met with your inescapable reality that life- no matter how many years pass, new life that grows, exciting experiences that arise- is now filtered through the lens of loss. But this is where hope comes in, dear one. We can look forward with the hope that someday God’s goodness will always feel good because all will be made right (Revelation 21 NIV). As you wait expectantly for that day, you can experience healing of the most broken place right now: your soul.

 

If this post resonated with you, journey over to Newness through the Pain.