Tag Archives: fear

What Makes Us Do It?!

A horrible thing happened this morning.  Horrible.

Sampson, my dog, loves to chase squirrels.  He will run them all day long up trees, hoping fiercely to catch one but it’s never happened…until today.

He ran a squirrel up a very tall light pole at the park.  While other squirrels ran for safety in the surrounding trees, Sampson was fixed his prisoner.  He taunted, barked, bounced and badgered the squirrel but he just scurried higher up the pole.  Sampson didn’t move.  He refused to give up.  Suddenly, for no reason at all, the squirrel jumped down off the pole!  He was dazed and couldn’t scamper very fast so Sampson got him.  Can’t be mad at the dog, that’s what dogs do! I stood there, shocked and amazed.  Why.  Why in the world would that critter take such a chance knowing it was a long fall, Sampson was right there and he may not survive it?

What makes us think we can jump into things we know we shouldn’t and not be hurt or hurt those we love?  Why do we think it’ll always turn out ok when the chances are 50/50 – sometimes less – that they will? What makes us lurch into danger giving no thought to the consequences that await us?

Maybe it was fear.  The squirrel was probably terrified.  I reason in my mind that had Sampson treed him he would have never taken such a chance.  Sampson kept on taunting him, the squirrel went up as high as he could but maybe felt he wasn’t far enough away from his enemy that he thought, “If I could just get to that tree, it’s close…I can make it, then he won’t see me and I’ll be safe…” and went for it.  Sometimes don’t we think the same?  We think if we can’t see the enemy he surely can’t see us; we think any decision we make out of fear is an ok one; we have to do something, so we do what we know to do, maybe what we’ve always done: JUMP!  Maybe it was wanting to hide, to get away.  Maybe it was the challenge, boredom, adventure, something different.  I don’t know.  All I know is it didn’t end well for the squirrel and it won’t end well for us if we flirt with disaster thinking we can get away with it.

Jumping into danger (whatever the danger is) in all likelihood won’t end well for us either. Humans (supposedly) have another sense to guide us and perhaps talk us down before we take the plunge and if a Christian, an even greater resource, the Holy Spirit.  Before we move for whatever reason, take a minute to think (yes) but especially to pray.  He has the best sense of what’s good for us and will always guide us, if we let Him.  Always pray before plunging.  Okay?

Isaiah 30:21 “Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”

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Witness Protection Program

Close your eyes and think of the most unthinkable thing you’ve been through.  Remember it.  Feel it.  Got it?

Tell me why it happened.  Can you? You never saw it coming, right? Never in a million years would you have even conceived the thought that it may happen…but it did.

I know from experience God can use anything – ANYTHING for His good.  After all, if we’ve professed our loyalty to Him it’s ultimately His goodness and character that are at stake – not just our reputations, feelings or plans.  Ultimately it’s His love for His child that you and those around you will see.  It isn’t always pretty or comfortable and certainly it’s not what we expect as His beloved!  We expect wonderful, good things – we’ve somehow convinced ourselves bad things shouldn’t happen to us because we’re His!

What if we changed our focus to try to see through the pain in a godly perspective?  What if what we’ve been through or going through has very little to do with us?  What if God CHOSE you to suffer just so you can show the lost ones around you that no matter what He’s good? He’s faithful?  He won’t abandon us when we’ve messed up, fallen short or been devastated by events we had nothing to do with?  What if there’s someone in our lives who needs to see someone they love and admire handle things with faith in Him when everything else has been torn away?

We’re called to be witnesses – not just to the corners of the world but right in our neighborhoods!  That’s our Jerusalem; that’s as real as it gets.  When we dare to swallow our pride, to stop worrying how we’ll be thought of or talked about and live out our faith, God will bless us. He’s the ultimate witness protection program – you’re being used to show Him and share Him with someone else.  If He allowed it to happen, how can there not be good come from it?

Maybe we’ve been selected to suffer for His glory. If so, we can believe He will protect, comfort and heal us all the way through it.  Do we dare trust Him that much?

 

“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” Isaiah 43:10

Make Your Own Beautiful

IMAG0790I hope I’ve learned a thing or two from this season of my life.  I sure wouldn’t want to repeat it.

When things are dark and ugly sometimes we have to dig deep to find the good.  Sometimes we instantly see it but more often than not we must wait.

One of the most recent lessons is becoming so precious to me. I looked for blessings and kind of expect people to make an ugly time in my life more palatable and easier to swallow.  (Is that you I hear laughing?) I didn’t realize it at first but now I see that in addition to very tough circumstances, my disappointment worked extremely hard to make me discontented.  Then I got it.

Sometimes it’s got to be just you and God.  No one else.  No resources.  No explanations.  No Band-Aids.  Just you and Him.  I think He brought me to that place to allow me the choice to be content with Him and only Him. When everything and everyone I looked to, to make me feel more secure and content – job, home, stuff, car, people, etc,…vanished,  “Barbie, will I be enough?”  was the reverberating question on my heart.

When life gets ugly that’s where the rubber meets the road. We’re left with both decisions and changes to make.  When all you see is ugly, we can choose to make our own pretty.  Staying content in a troubling and discontented world is very hard work!  That’s when we learn to appreciate what we have and make the most of it.

I took some hand-me-down vases, some Salvation Army plates and paints I already had to make these.  I made my own beautiful.  So many stories and devotionals…so many personal lessons from God have come through the process of making them.

Trust God through the process.  That’s what I’m learning.  Trust He’s making something beautiful in you and most often when He’s through with that part, what you’ve been through will serve at least two purposes:  1) to teach you something and, 2) to bless someone else!  In the meantime, work with Him to create your own beautiful.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”   Ephesians 2:10

 

 

 

The Place of Nothingness

I’ve never heard anyone celebrate the fact that they lost, their prayers weren’t answered or what they were expecting didn’t come.  Have you?

Dire, desperate situations, it seems, customize themselves to our lives.  We all have them. The Bible says to wait on the Lord so we do, believing as best we can He will somehow make a way.  When the time comes when we think it should be over and it’s not, decisions must be made.  Do we continue to wait?  Take matters into our own hands?

That place of nothingness can be good or it can be bad. If we resort to desperation, desperate decisions can produce devastating consequences.  Desperate people do desperate things. However, if we bring forward what we’ve learned from God during the times He has provided, consoled and comforted in times past…miraculously or otherwise, we could save ourselves from piles of regret.

When the answers don’t come; when all seems lost and hopeless that’s where our faith-talk meets our faith-walk.  I’ve found myself in countless situations over the past few years similar to those I had helped others through.  When you walk a road yourself that you’ve watched someone else walk, the view is certainly different! Truth is, until we find ourselves in something, we have no idea what we’ll do. That’s why Jesus warns us to never judge anyone else.  We may think we know how we would handle it but we don’t!

During those “nothing”, waiting times, I’m learning to draw on my past experiences with God.  I remember how we got through then and believe Him for now.  Nothingness is a place where our faith can grow…or die.  The choice is ours.  After all, haven’t we been taught to “walk by faith, not by sight”?  Will we, when the rubber meets the road? Nothingness is the OPPORTUNITY to believe His ways aren’t our ways; His thoughts aren’t our thoughts.  Sometimes he has to bring us to “nothing” to see for ourselves how big (or little) our faith in Him is when there is nothing to place hope in but Him.

Give your faith a chance to manifest itself for what it is. The only way to do that is to get to the place where there is nothing left but faith. Faith isn’t just a word and it’s not just a feeling; faith is a Person.  Faith IS Christ. At the end of the day in the horrifying place of nothingness, we’ll see how real He is to us…or how real He isn’t.

 

(For we walk by faith and not by sight.)  2 Corinthians 5:7

“And Jesus answered and said to them,”Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to his mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Matthew 21:21

T-R-U-S-T

T – Take your feelings and what you think out of it. (Matthew 36:39)

R – Remember Who God is and Whose you are.  (Psalm 91:2)

U – Understand it may not be easy; it may not even be close to what you think it should be. (Isaiah 55:8)

S – Stand firm on God’s word especially when there’s nothing else to stand on. 1st Corinthians 15:58)

T – Totally rely on His power and strength and not your own. (2nd Corinthians 12:9).

Fear Will Fail You.

There’s a lost dog in my neighborhood and the other day I saw her.  When I approached her she ran into the woods.  She didn’t know me so afraid, she ran.  The remainder of the week I went back to that spot time and time again, sometimes staying and calling her name for hours to no avail.  She’s a house dog, she hasn’t been outside very much so I imagine she is terrified, in addition to being hungry and totally out of her comfort zone.  Yet even when her owners come for her she won’t come to them.

It doesn’t make any sense!  She hears the voices, especially the familiar ones, she’s hot, hungry, and knows she would be safe with those who love her, yet she still refuses to come!  Fear has gripped her and instead of doing what she knows she should do she does completely the opposite.  I’m afraid she will die of starvation and the elements to which she is unaccustomed all because she is scared. It seems she would rather stay where she is than take a chance to come out and be loved and cared for.

That’s precisely what fear does.  I know.  I’ve lived with it all my life.

When fear grips it changes the ability to think rationally and we find ourselves reacting instead of acting.  We do things and say things we would never do with a clear mind. Sometimes we freeze, deciding to stay in the mess we’re in because we are just too afraid to take a chance on trying to change things.

Perhaps we’ve been hurt – or really hurt someone else – when we’ve conjured up the courage go attempt to go beyond ourselves and we’re just too afraid to take the chance again.  Although legitimate, living that way robs us of the experience of trusting God (and ourselves) and perhaps the countless blessings He had for us.

So we stay…even knowing it’s not right, it’s painful, yet, we stay.  At least we’re familiar with how it is, there are no surprises, there is nothing expected.  We surrender to fear and decide to survive.

Fear takes our faith.  When we live based on what we are afraid of, we can’t function in faith.  They simply cannot coexist.  We must choose one or the other.  If we choose fear before long, our hearts and minds are infiltrated and we’ve convinced ourselves it is the way we think it is, and hope fades.  We someday will realize that living in fear has totally failed us and robbed us.  Soon we’ll find ourselves in an ocean of regret, pruning and nourishing our bitterness and despair.

Let’s decide today that we’ll no longer be our own prisoner.  Let’s take a tiny step forward to the safe hands and presence of the One who loves us the most.  The first step is the hardest, the next will be a little easier.  Let’s trust as we walk straight into His arms.  He will never fail us.  He’ll comfort us and help us through whatever we’re afraid of.

Unlike that little dog (who is still in the woods by the way), when you hear His voice, take a chance and step out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Luke 21:34:  “Be on guard so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;”

Alterations.

Almost nine years ago my world began to drastically change…it started with the unexpected death of my younger sister.  As I reflect on that time in my life, I realize that was some kind of a starting point for colossal change in my outside world and my inside life…who I was, what I believed, my…everything.  I remember who I was then and see that now, I’m not even close to who I used to be.  At the time I remember knowing God would see me through; I had no doubt of that…but I also remember thinking nothing would be the same. I had no idea how right I was.

Since that time, pretty much everything that was important, almost every significant person in my life, my ideals and perceptions, the way I approached and thought about things…literally everything is either gone or changed.  Even material things I held dear are gone; hopes for things and the way I thought things would be…gone.  My sense of fair, good and right are forever altered.  Even my faith in God is completely different from what I thought (back then) it should be.

Life takes unexpected twists and turns.  Stuff hits you, you have no way of seeing coming. You’re unprepared.  I never considered the fact my younger sister would die before I did; didn’t see that coming.  At my age (very close to 60) I never thought I would lose my job…get evicted…have to work 2, 3 and 4 jobs to make ends meet…didn’t see that coming either.  Who prepares for this?  To my embarrassment and immaturity (in Christ), I somehow thought because I had had some tests and bumps in my younger life that the rest of my life would be less difficult.  Go ahead, laugh…I am.  My faith was built on something false…something earthly – a false perception of what I thought I deserved and what I was sure would happen.

Over and over again “My ways are not your ways…” has played in my mind. “Lean not on your own understanding…” were the words I woke up to many a morning.  Through all this, I found truth, absolute truth, in those words.

The enemy wants us to think we’re unloved and forgotten when bad things happen but because I’ve been through this “desert season” in my life I can tell you with absolute certainty exactly the opposite is true.  When we find ourselves in extremely painful and terrifying circumstances those are the places where God…His literal presence can be more real to us than in seasons of joy.  Some choose to blame Him and run like spoiled children as far away from Him as we can; others choose to cling to Him for our lives and fight the good fight of faith even if our faith is less than the size of a mustard seed…maybe the size of a grain of sand.  Sometimes that choice brings a “curse God and die” mentality and a very real choice – sometimes on a breath-by-breath basis – confronts us.  It doesn’t look like we’re loved and cherished; it feels like we’re utterly alone and abandoned…so will we choose to press on based on NOTHING else but God’s word to us or will be choose based on our raw feelings and emotions? Those are the moments of spiritual life and death.

Sometimes we have to “get naked” before God, absolutely stripped in order to get to the nitty-gritty of what the real relationship is all about.  Sooner or later, I believe everyone will have a “season of Job” where there is nothing but you and Him.  Our suffering seasons may not look all like someone else’s – it doesn’t even matter what it looks like to others because this is between us and Him.  What matters is the result…will we allow ourselves to be forever altered?  Will we come out closer to Him or farther away?