Joshua 1:9 – Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (HCSB)
Fear can give a quick jump in heart rate that soon passes or fear can be paralyzing. Fear can be amusing or life altering. Fear can take control of a moment or control of your life. Recently I realized I have allowed fear to become my idol, giving it more power than God in my life. Several years ago I felt God giving me a directive, but instead mimicking Isaiah’s “I’m ready to go” (Isaiah 6:8), I was more like Moses with “I can’t do that.” (Exodus 3:11). God answered me much like He answered Moses – “I’ve taken care of everything. Don’t worry about it.” (Exodus 3:12), but I allowed Fear to build on the foundation of my low self-esteem to create a wall of panic and doubt. Some of my fears proved to be true, which made the wall even more substantial. Time after time I was Gideon asking for a sign (Judges 6). Time after time God answered, but Fear told me I needed more. When I should have been fierce, I was frightened. I continued to question God and continued to point out the flaws in His plan. I was so focused on the “what if” my eyes lost sight of the “I AM”. In Judges 6:15 Gideon asks “How can I save Israel?” and then went on to explain his shortcomings. Instead of being electrified, Gideon was terrified. He used the words “how can I”, but he was saying “I can’t”. In verse 16 God answers “I will be with you.” Instead of thinking, “Well, that changes everything!”, Gideon is thinking “yeah, but” and begins to ask for proof that it really is God talking. Often, like Gideon, I feel that I need to explain things to God and give Him a clear picture of the situation. God answers and I ask for a sign ….. and another sign ….. and another. I may begin to march out with self-confidence and tenacity but Fear blocks my way and I become shaken and timid. I knew that I could not accomplish anything on my own, and I was right about that, but He never even hinted that I was on my own. Isaiah 41:10 says I don’t need to be faint-hearted because He is God and He is holding my hand. Peter was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and then Fear took over (Matthew 14:29-30). Fear kept Gideon’s eyes focused in the wrong direction, but he had to turn his eyes away from himself to see God (Judges 6). When my eyes are on Fear, I am focused on people’s criticisms, comparisons, and even my own opinion of my abilities. When I turn my eyes to God those things are no longer in my line of sight. To paraphrase Paul in Romans 9: 31 “since God has my back, what difference does it make about what people think or do?” Fear is a bully waiting to pounce, but God says “Don’t worry. I’m with you and nothing can take Me away.” (Romans 8:35-39)
2 Kings 5:11 – But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. (HCSB)
My teacher friend and I were sharing coffee and memories when a story came up about the daughter of the school superintendent. Her classroom behavior resulted in numerous reprimands but no positive results so the teacher called the principal to step in. The daughter’s response was “Do you know who I am?”. She had a sense of entitlement because of her last name and demanded her father be called, but that phone call did not bring the response she had planned. 2 Kings 5 tells us Naaman also had a sense of entitlement and left angry because Elisha did not respond the way he had planned. I picture him stomping away, muttering “Doesn’t he know who I am?” then adding complaints about a small and dirty river, about Elisha sending a servant, about being treated as an average man. As believers we read about Naaman and shake our heads as his expected special treatment, but sometimes we have that same attitude with God. Why doesn’t He protect me from all hardships, illnesses, and unhappy situations? Doesn’t He know I am a faithful follower? I sing the church songs asking Him to test and try me, even closing my eyes in worship and raising my hands in praise but fully expect Him to acknowledge my praise not my petition. I recite God’s command to go into all the world (Mark 16:15) and faithfully make it as far as my own church building. I boldly answer Jesus’ call to love my neighbor (Mark 12:31) by loving on the person sitting beside me in the pew – not the crying woman, the other one with the highlighted Bible and the Beth Moore study book. Naaman’s sense of entitlement left no impression on Elisha but my sense of entitlement must grieve God’s heart. God owes me nothing but gave me eternal life. I am entitled to nothing but carry the title Child of the King. Do you know who I am? I am a sinner saved by God’s grace.
Ephesians 5:1 – Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (HCSB)
Some people think that my granddaughter looks like me; some have doubts. She has a way of using her eyes to leave no uncertainty about her feelings, and no one doubts that “look” came from me! I am thankful everyday that she inherited my “look” rather than my artistic talent – she has an abundance, I have none. I love the idea of Bible journaling with drawings, but every animal, plant, and person I draw looks like a tick. I stared with admiration (and occasionally drooled with envy) at the artwork others added to their Bible pages. I tried to compensate with stickers — close but not the same. One day I attended a class where an amazingly talented lady illustrated Bible verses as she talked. I was thinking of my failed journeys down the dark path of Bible journaling when she handed me a copy of her work and gave light with the words “Just copy what I have done.” I didn’t have to do it alone! There was no need for me to struggle through continued failure; I had a perfect plan to copy. Isn’t it that way with our walk with Jesus? Charles Spurgeon said, “The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model.” It is not necessary to stumble down the dark path of continued failure; Jesus said He is the light (John 8:12). Many things in this world are “almost Jesus” or “close to being like Jesus” but “close” is not the same. It would be foolish of me not to accept the perfect Bible journaling plan. Isn’t it even more foolish not to accept the perfect Savior?
As the wife of a pastor and the mom of a pastor I thought this was an interesting read and wanted to share.
1 John 3:18 – Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action (HCSB)
My husband and I have been blessed to experience the indescribable love of grandchildren. I remember so well being sound asleep when the phone rang in the wee hours one morning, and our son announced those magic words that would forever change my world, “We’re on the way to the hospital. This is it!” Any other time we lived about four hours away, but that night those interstate speed limit signs were just making ridiculous suggestions. I still get teary at the memory of seeing my baby holding his baby for the first time. The moment that red haired boy was born he became Granny’s Precious Darling. Two and a half years later we got the identical call and our precious granddaughter made her entrance. She has a face like her dad, eyes and hair like her mom, and a look that leaves no doubt as to her true feelings about any situation (there is a slight possibility maybe that came from me!). She became known as my Bumble Bee and my husband’s Baby Cakes, and the love I have for these two fascinating gifts from God continuously takes my breath away. We laugh and play together and sometimes share secrets, but if I say loving them is a secret, my precious Bumble Bee will immediately respond, “Everybody already knows that.” 1 John says that love should not be something we say but never show. Do my words as well as my actions show my love for Jesus? Would God respond, “Everybody already knows that.”
John 3:16 – “For God loved the world in this way:[a] He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (HCSB)
Becoming a mother brought on a love that I never even imagined. Recent decades have given women the convenience of home pregnancy tests, but my test was done in the doctor’s office. I remember waiting anxiously for the results, then racing to my husband’s office almost before the nurse could finish saying “positive”. Remembering the excitement and joy of telling our parents and grandparents still brings a smile. I wore maternity tops over my microscopic bun, delighting as it grew to meager bump and onto massive bulge. I loved every kick and was amazed when a little foot could be seen pushing against my skin. I can’t describe the joy of holding that precious miracle for the first time or how “love” became an entirely new word for me at that moment. Our son had infantile asthma so there were times of sleeping in the crib with him to calm his fears under the croup tent, of sleeping on the floor beside his bed so we could hear him breathe, of holding him as medicated mist blew in his face. We prayed petitions, praises, and scripture daily as we watched him grow. I have loved seeing my little boy become a man and make his own home with the woman God created to be his wife. I would do anything to protect my son because I have loved him since his conception. God loved His Son from the beginning of time yet He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins. How can we ignore a love like that?
Mark 4:37-38 – A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?” (HCSB)
Doug, my grandson’s dog, is afraid of the ocean because the waves seem to sneak up on him. He has been around long enough to know the waves are coming. He has been warned the waves are coming. Yet, he is always surprised when the waves actually come and then fear takes control. The disciples in Mark 4:37-38 found themselves to be much like Doug. They were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, a body of water renown for sudden flash storms causing giant waves, so they had been around long enough to know storms would come. In learning to navigate the waters, I’m sure they had been warned storms would come. Yet, they were surprised by this particular storm, surprised to the point of being terrified and felt Jesus wasn’t doing anything to rescue them. They were frightened, they had no control of the situation, and things were bad and getting worse. I imagine the frantic running around and shouting of questions such as “Why aren’t You doing something?” “Why don’t You care about me?” “Why are You sleeping while I’m suffering?” Sometimes I feel much like a small boat on turbulent waters. I have been around long enough to know trouble is coming. Jesus warned that trouble was coming (John 16:33). Yet, I am always caught by surprise and frightened when the waves of trouble are pounding. Like the disciples, I can become frantic when everything I do only emphasizes my lack of control. I cry out “Why aren’t You doing something?” as I am pounded by the consequences of someone else’s actions. Drowning in hurt and confusion, I ask “Why don’t You care about me?” In exasperation and anger I demand to know, “Why are You sleeping while I’m suffering?” And Jesus answers me the same way He answered the disciples, “Why are you afraid?” (v.40). Storms are not fun, but the same Jesus who controlled the storm for the disciples, has control of the storms in my life. He spoke and called a stormy sea to calm. I can call my stormy world to calm when I speak the name of Jesus.