Wednesday, June 23, 2010
One thing about my life that always seems to plague me is Fear. I don’t know if I battle with it more than anyone else, but Fear really seems to attack me at my weakest moments, in me weakest places.
Sometimes, Fear is so adept at the attack; I take the fear and make it a part of who I am. So many times in the last month I’ve said, “I am afraid!” What I really meant was “I am Afraid!” – I was taking Fear and making it who I was. I owned it. It was – and sometimes still is – my identity. Casey and Fear can be synonymous some days. Afraid can be my name.
I don’t like being Afraid. But somehow the fight to see “Casey” without a streak of Fear nagging at my soul is rare. Fear has defined me for so long: a fear of looking silly, a fear of screwing up, a fear that my best won’t be good enough. Fears are normal I think. But the regular fear becomes “my-name-is-Fear” when I let it take a hold of my life.
Fear screams for me to run, to hide, to avoid being dependent on others, to resist because I might get hurt. It causes a constant clanging in my heart to be perfect at everything, because I’m not worth enough if I’m not the best.
But Love – well, Love is telling me the opposite. It’s telling me to rest, to come to the Light, to put myself in situations where I need to be surrounded by other people. Love tells me that it’s okay if I’m not perfect, because I was never expected to be, because Love doesn’t have those expectations. The only problem is that while Fear is screaming, Love whispers. Love is the soft calling in my soul that I too often ignore and focus instead on the panic Fear brings.
It’s hard to focus on the quiet voice of Love when everything else is screaming for my attention. It makes me realize what Elijah must have been going through in 1 Kings 19. Elijah just finished this awesome throw-down with some people who were worshiping false gods – then he got scared and ran away. He let the “my-name-is-Fear” type of fear take over. So Elijah finds himself on this mountain, after being told God’s going to pass by. This huge wind comes crashing down, then an earthquake, then a fire. Elijah was straining to find God in the loud, rushing things. “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” That whisper was God. That whisper was Love, calling the listener to make a change.
How often in my own life am I quick to assume the wind, earthquake and fire is actually God, instead of listening for the whisper? More than I’d like to count. Too often my identify is the Fear that’s screaming, instead of the whisper of Love.
I think it’s time I went to my own “mountain” and spent time listening for God’s whisper of Love in my own life. I don’t want to identify as Afraid – I want to be Casey, the one who Trusts. The one who is confident in Love. Casey, the one who is Unafraid! I'm starting to go out of my way to take fear and throw it out: I dressed up like a Battlestar Galactica character when I went to a comic convention, I started a conversation with someone I didn't know at church and I'm making an effort to talk in larger groups of people. Little things it may seem to some, but to me, those are huge.
I refuse to allow Fear be my identity any longer.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
Listening for the whisper,
Monday, June 7, 2010
I live in constant expectation of the future. Expectation of seeing my friends again, of work and all that pertains to it; expectations of finding the right guy and falling in love and eventually being a wife. My expectations abound.
While expectations aren’t a bad thing, I think for me they too easily become skewed. Sometimes I run out ahead of where God is walking with me, and then I trip up because I can’t see what’s right in front of my nose, because I’m looking at the horizon.
I’ll be honest: I have a pretty strong patience for things. But when it comes to the future, I get lost in my day dreaming and get stuck in the mind set of “when will IT happen?” The “it” in question can be anything from getting a phone call from a friend to hitting the height of my career. I like to know when things are happened. I have a schedule planner, and I like to follow it.
But God never seems to let me do that. I think God must be amused by how stressed out I can be when I can’t see what’s going to happen in the future. (Maybe that’s actually what thunder is!) God’s word acts as “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Yes, I get that. He illuminates the way, showing me the paths to take to lead the best way.
The funny thing about lamps is that they don’t typically cast light out far enough for to see the entire road – just the next step or two. The rest is all taken in faith that when the next step happens, the lamp will still be illuminating far enough for me to take the next step, then the next, and so on. I just always seem to want to run ahead.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian who aided Jews during WWII. In the book that documents her life, called The Hiding Place, Corrie describes a scene that’s always stuck with me. Corrie, as a young child has realized that Death can happen to anyone, and she’s afraid it will happen to her father. Her father asks her, “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam – when do I give you your ticket?” She replies that he gives it to her just before they get on the train. “Exactly,” he replies, “And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run ahead of Him, Corrie…” (pg. 29) (If you haven’t read that book, drop whatever you’re doing, buy it and read it!)
Not running out ahead of God? That’s scary. I like knowing where I’m going to be and how I’m going to get there. Having my Father give me just what I need when I need it… that’s harder. Scarier. Braver, too. It requires faith. I live in expectation of the future. But I am learning to live in the expectation that today, in this moment, God is leading me on a path that will result in His glory, for His purpose, in His timing, that will eventually accomplish His plans. God is the light that’s shining on my path, and I have confidence that He will give me what I need when I need it. Not a moment too soon, and not a moment too late.
“Faith is the conviction that God knows more than we do about this life and He will get us through it.” - Max Lucado
Learning not to run ahead,
Thursday, June 3, 2010
“Even if God never does a single thing for the rest of your life and you die without Him having done anything for you – that doesn’t change who God is.”
Wow. I don’t know about you, but that is an intense message for me to truly wrap my mind around. On Sunday, one of my pastors was talking about Faith and who God is. We’ve been studying Hebrews for about four years now and today we came back to Hebrews chapter 11:1. I’m pretty sure every person in my church, including the two year olds can says this verse now because of how many times we’ve referenced it. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
I was interpreting the sermon and when I interpret, I don’t always remember a lot of what goes on because I’m so focused on the changing one language for the other, but for the second half of the sermon, the other interpreter took over so I got a break and could actually pay attention to the message.
That’s when he said it. “Even if God never does a single thing for the rest of your life and you die without Him having done anything for you – that doesn’t change who God is.”
Wow. That’s some serious stuff. If God never answers a single prayer for the rest of my life, it doesn’t change who He is? Now, mentally, I know all of this. But in my heart – let’s just say sometimes I doubt a little more. What if I’m praying for something really powerful, like for my friend who’s dad has an incurable disease that’s taking over his body? What if I’m praying for salvation for a family member who gets closer to death every day? What if I’m praying for things like a passion for a life that glorifies God? What if I’m praying for my friend’s family that is breaking apart? What if I’m praying for my relationship with my siblings?
What if God never answers those prayers with a yes? What happens to my faith if God answers “no” to each of my prayers? Some of those break my heart every time they come to mind. I have wept because of those prayers, none of which have yet to be answered. How, if I am to truly trust that He loves me beyond all measure, can I trust Him when He doesn’t answer?
But maybe it’s not that He isn’t answering, but He’s just not answering the way I want. Maybe my friend’s father will be healed on the other side of eternity. Maybe God’s calling me to make the first move in the relationship with my sibs. What if He’s calling me to trust Him and wait for His timing? Could I be assuming the worst about God because things aren’t working in my timing? Because in the end, when everything is said and done… it still doesn’t change who He is. His character never changes. His promises don’t change.
I won’t claim to have it worked out. But that statement really made me take a step back. I’m still thinking about it, to be honest. One thing I know beyond a doubt: He is who He claims, whether that means I’m on the mountain being restored and refreshed, or going through the valley, or if I feel like I’m stuck somewhere in the wilderness without hill or dip anywhere around. He is who He says.
Makes me think of the verse I found early this year when I was really struggling from Psalm 62:11-12a:
“One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.”
Learning who He is,