Today I'm praying for/about:

Today, (in no particular order) I'm praying for...
- Fresh ideas, inspiration and diligence to post regularly again

- My dad fighting mesothelioma too far away for me to hug him

- Children, parents, and teachers everywhere preparing to return to school

- My single friends as they seek God for His guidance in relationships

- Broken relationships; for grace to abound where grace has been withheld

- You; I'm praying for every single person who views this blog.

Thank you for standing in agreement with me for these precious souls!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fear Knot- Day 1

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."  Genesis 15:1 NASB

That's the first one.

That's the first time in the bible God tells one of His to be fearless.  As it appears so many more times through the remainder of scripture, I admit I'm surprised it took this long before He had to say it.  According to translations of Masoretic text (meaning Hebrew), we are probably nearly 2000 years post-creation before God tells a human not to fear.  Really?!?  Noah didn't have to be told???  I have a new level of awe for Noah's faith.  My assumption here is that, because it was noted so many other times later when someone was told to be unafraid, if Noah had needed telling, we'd have known about it.  (But that's just my opinion...)  Further, if we back up to when God initially spoke to Abram there was apparently not a need for it then.  Why?  Honestly, if the God of the Universe suddenly started speaking to me, making promises about descendants, nations, etc. and then told me to pack up and go... away... leaving family, without including a destination or duration, in the twilight of my years, for a perpetual camping trip, I would probably need some consoling!  However, it was not until several miles into the journey that Abram needed this nugget of encouragement.

Then comes more questions:  Why did Abram have to be told?  What did he have to be afraid of?  The preceding passage quotes him as saying "that I will not take a thread or sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich'" (v. 14:23).  Then there was his lying about his relationship with Sarai for the sake of self-preservation.  My assumption is that while he had the gumption to pack up and take a trek, he was not operating entirely with the boldness God wanted from him.  After all, if he had REALLY taken to heart the promise God made him at the outset then he would not need to fear the opinions of men; God had already promised greatness.  He did not need to fear for his life; God had already promised descendants (which one has to be alive to make).

Which, I suppose, brings us to ourselves.  If each of us is honest, we have some level of some form of fear.  Fear is born of ingratitude which is born of ignorance.  (Let me flip that over and try to explain better...)  If we ignore the promises of God then we do not see our blessings for what they are, if we do not see our blessings then we start to feel lack, if we feel that we lack then we begin to fear for provision or fulfillment.  Once we develop a fear then we tend to begin brainstorming ideas to fix what we see as a problem and once we take problem solving into our own hands we usually end up in sin.

I hope it's not wrong for me to throw a little love in the direction of Ann Voskamp.  If you haven't heard of her, I highly recommend a visit to A Holy Experience; her posts are a very regular source of gentle, loving conviction for me.  I'm also about half way through her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and it is helping me change my focus.  While I've been ruminating on the whole fear issue for some time now (I realized what I posted yesterday had an initial date on the draft of October 2011), I wasn't sure where to find the antidote.  I'm learning.  As Ann has pointed out, if we are constantly aware of the gifted graces all around us then we feel comfortably full.  When we miss them, we feel empty.  Abram must not have been feeling too full of God's blessings where he was in his journey if God needed to command him not to fear.

Begin asking God to prepare you for Him to reveal your fears.  It's a tough experience.  Once you are ready He will begin to show you.  As He does, dig into His Word and find out the promises He has made to the contrary of your fear.  Once you know His promises, you can remind yourself as often as you need to.  Start taking note (literally, with a pen and paper) of every instance He blesses you, and the "fear knot" that binds each of our hearts, will begin to unravel.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fear Knot

Change is hard.

Stepping out is hard.

Obedience is hard.

God has called me to do something I don't want to.  Well, He's called me many times to many things I did not want to do but you get to hear about this one!  Admittedly, and, ironically, I'm afraid.  This is a daunting task that I do not believe I'm equipped for, that I'm not disciplined enough to do, and I'm not sure how it will go.  However, when God says "go", what else are we to do but obey?  So, here I go...

Quite a while back my husband was asked to fill in on a Sunday and preach while our pastor was out of town.  The topic of his message was "fear not" and he shared the "fact" that the particular phrase, in various forms, is listed in the bible 366 times; once for ever day of the year including leap-year.  He emphasized that if God felt the need to reiterate something that many times to us then it must be vitally important.  Now, notice I used quotations around the word "fact"... that's because, at this moment, I'm not sure it actually is 366 but I'm going to find all I can!

I have been ruminating on this little "fact" for months now, pondering the insidious role fear plays in our lives, and feeling increasingly burdened to write about it.  I tried a while back to cram my thoughts all into one post and it's been sitting in the "drafts" category for a long time because it just wasn't coming together.  Then, back in November, I felt God pressing me that I should endeavor to seek out every one of those supposed 366 instances in scripture pertaining to this subject...  and, blog about it every.  single.  day.

I balked.  I haven't even been able to blog every MONTH much less daily!  Further, when I started searching via online bible resources, the compiled lists of others, keyword searches, etc. I had trouble finding the full "leap year" of scriptures.  (And to clarify, I did not just search "fear"; I went all kind of thesaurus and searched related terms like "anxious", "worry", "distress", and many others, as you will (hopefully) see).

On top of all this, another admission, I had been feeling like I had some kind of wisdom in this area to impart to others, including you, dear reader, and let me now, humbly, sincerely, ask for your forgiveness, please?  See, I had been going along for a while now thinking I had conquered fear.  I used to be terribly afraid of some major things that I was forced to face and choose faith instead.  Let me tell you now, if you struggle with any form of anxiety, the freedom that God can bring you in this area is unreal.  You want it, I promise!  However, something I'm realizing lately, the treatment for this particular malady of the soul is not a one-time treatment.  In fact, I'm not sure it isn't a permanent condition that could be considered an autoimmune disorder of the soul.  Regular therapy of God's word, prayer, and wise counsel are the best ways to keep the condition in check and in a "latent" status.  The reason I speculate so is because 1) while there may not be 366 instances in the bible, God does have to command us so often not to fear that it must be that common of a problem and 2) because of my own experience (which is not for you to base your own faith on, only as the disclaimer of the humanity from whence these words come!).  To reinforce that point, and to explain the admission I started above, I was reading a testimony the other day from someone God had healed in many facets of her physical health.  Part of said testimony included how fear-filled she had been living and I thought "Well I don't have that problem."...  Almost immediately I felt that "still, small voice" in my heart that said "Oh, really??  What about your fear of failure?  What about your fear of the expectations of others?  What about your fears of being lonely?........"  (There were several others)

Hmm...  Well...  uh...  ok, yeah, I guess there's that...  No!  I don't have...  ok, well, maybe I struggle just a little...  well, maybe, yes.  Yes, you got me.  I still struggle in those areas.

I have a lot more issues with fear than I realized.  I concoct confidence.  I have bogus bravery.  I feign fearlessness.

I've been pondering this concept since my husband shared it, and it struck me that if we trace back every sin issue we have, I'm thus far convinced that it's always rooted in some form of fear, worry or anxiety that provokes us to act outside of God's will.  Fear, worry or anxiety, after all, is the belief that God either can't or won't meet whatever need or want we might have.  Which, thereby, I suppose, is, in and of itself, a sin of unbelief.  Sins tend to beget more sins and, perhaps, akin to medical maladies, rarely does a person have just one condition; often one issue has either stemmed from or causes another.  Important to note here that sometimes, He indeed, will not meet our wants or needs as we see them to be, but, they are still not for us to take into our own hands.  Faith and peace in His Word tell us that He has a plan, nothing that can come up in our lives will surprise Him, He knows better than we can fathom what we truly need in any given instance and, thus, has a reason for not meeting that need/want in the way we have in mind.  So far I have yet to come up with a sin issue that does not have some root fear attached to it.  I realize that's a very bold statement but if we search deep in our hearts and address that fear, then the sin issue will resolve.

The next post after this I will begin to go through the list of scriptures, one at at time, to see what God has to say to me (us) about our fears.  My conviction is to go for an entire year searching out these scriptures and their correlating promises.  I am yet undecided whether to split passages verse by verse where there's two or more in a row commanding fearlessness OR to group them together; we will have to see where God leads when we get there.

As we set off on this journey, I ask your prayers: this is the biggest undertaking I have ever stepped into in my very limited study of God's word.  To do this I am having to delve into scripture in a way I never have before, I will need a diligence for this blog like never before, I need to change my sleep patterns so I can rise and write before my sons start their day (I have never been a morning person!), and all of this while we as a family juggle a lot of other stuff in our lives.

I do not know why God has asked this of me; I'm just a random wife and mom with a lot of chaos, a scattered brain, and no qualifications.  However, He also called a murderer to be a deliverer, a shepherd boy to be a king, fishermen to be leaders, and harlots to be heroes...  why not me?  Why not you?