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Posts Tagged ‘conquering fear’

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Peering beneath the edge of the steel frame where the carpet and dark space intersect, I imagined all sorts of evil lurking in the five inches of space beneath the mattress and covers.  Nibbling at the edge of a fingernail, I shifted from side to side considering my options. The risks? Certain punishment if I refused to quickly locate myself beneath the warmth of sleep-inducing blankets or—to my impressionable mind—possible capture by whatever monster or boogie man lurked beneath the confines of a seemingly innocent piece of furniture.

At the tender age of four or five, Shadow had become a thing of nightmares and illusory power.

Too often, though, it seems our fear of Shadow follows us into adulthood. While disguised in more grown-up form, we still tremble at its existence and our thoughts are filled with untrue or unfulfilled imagery that leads us from a place of comfort into the obscure illusion of “What If?”

The “What If’s” come in many shapes and may be different for each of us.

What if…my husband leaves me?

 What if…my child dies?

 What if…I’m really never happy?

 What if…this wound refuses to heal?

 What if? What if? What if?

 Oh, dear One, the Shadow of What If is—and always has been—a robber of joy and imitator of truth designed to obscure the Light of Hope. We fight each dark pursuer—out of breath and in need of relief. Somehow, we’re certain a jab or swing in the Shadow’s direction will ensure some sort of relief. So we listen to Oprah…read books by Dr. Oz…try the newest diet trend…anything to help us battle the dark, elusive threat that is our greatest Fear.

But in so much of the struggle we rely on ourselves—forgetting the promises of scripture. Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we’re surrounded by a darkness so deep it casts death’s shadow, He is there! Even in the most frightening of times or the loneliest moments he guides…protects…comforts. He is the one who will manage our struggles and wage our battles.

Our futile attempts at Shadow boxing can cease. No more useless jabbing or dodging. Let’s give the battle to the Champion of hearts and souls—the giver of life, conqueror of death, and victor over sin and its effects.

 Suggested Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Read Psalm 23.

What dark valleys has God guided you through already? If your journey is taking you through a place filled with Shadows are you relying upon the Shepherd—or self? I know I struggle with this–vacillating back and forth.

As a gentle reminder to yourself about God’s abounding faithfulness and protection, reread Psalm 23. This time, replace each “me” with your name and “my” with the pronoun “her”.

A David Psalm (MSG)

23 1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

 

Linking up today with–

SL_buttonLIVEFREETHURSDAYGrace-Moments-thursday

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A trusted mentor of mine put it bluntly…”What gives you the right to malign God’s character?”

Revealing the ugly places in my heart, I confided to a root of bitterness that threatened to impair my faith with its silent, choking growth–an infected seed of doubt…fear..and disillusionment had taken root. The Enemy’s whispered messages had penetrated my mother’s tender heart. This was not what I had imagined for my precious ones.

I wondered if God really had a plan…really had our good in mind. How could this hardship, this suffering, this hollow ache in my heart beating its cry moment-by-moment lead to something more…something beautiful?

Meeting my friend’s gentle rebuke with an unusually frank reply I responded, “I have no right to malign God. I know the truth whether I feel it or not.”

Could you, too, be struggling with a situation that makes it difficult to see God’s good in your hurting? You will see Him, dear Friend, if you watch and listen. His goodness might come through the words of a loving friend…a meal cooked by servant hands…a prayer offered quietly on your behalf. You might notice His mercy in the fresh, clean smell of your freshly bathed child pressed close to your heart…the rising of the sun when you didn’t think light could penetrate the darkness.

I pray you know the truth–whether you feel it or not.

Truths from Scripture

Psalm 27:13
I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living. Wait for The Lord; be strong And take heart and wait for The Lord. (Emphasis mine)

Romans 8:37
In all these things we are more than conquerers through him who loved us.

1 Peter 5:8-10
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ…will himself restore you…

John 8:32 …the truth will set you free.

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As a little girl, I longed for a normal family life–a Brady Bunch sort of family life that included trips to the Grand Canyon, sack races in the backyard, and the resolution of any conflict within a thirty minute time frame.  Whatever you say, Mike. My childish longings found fertile ground in the solitude of my imagination where I created a rich landscape of characters who allowed me to foster dreams of what might be…someday.

Someday finally arrived. And from the moment he slipped the ring on my finger,  I knew we would have a “normal” family. Which we did–and do.

Our family is as normal as any other.  Socks never seem to match, the children argue about important matters…“I have he biggest spoon!” Meanwhile, my husband and I marvel at the ridiculous things we say…”Who put underwear on the dog?” These are the small delights and details of an everyday family.

But, along with the regular we’ve experienced the unwelcome–those changes in perception or circumstance that so substantially impact one person that the rest of the family feels the aftershock.  None of us are exempt from these experiences.  While we can’t identify with every situation, we can understand the disappointment, fear, and grief associated with them. Alzheimer’s…infertility…cancer…depression.

This, dear friends, is the normal of people living between the worlds of Today and Forever.  Today’s normal is a beautiful, imperfect challenge.  There are joys and sorrows; hurts and triumphs. If we pause for a moment from our rushing and worrying, we might just catch a glimpse of our Eternal Someday in a child’s belly laugh…an old couple’s tender kiss…a father praying for his family.

Someday…

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“If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods …”

Daniel 3:17-18a (HCSB)

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I want to offer words of encouragement, but my thoughts are jumbled…incomplete…fractured.  What insight can I offer through simple impressions on a page?

Perhaps in knowing that another struggles with heart wounds from the past or fears the days ahead you feel less alone.  Or, when you hear the pleading prayers of a mother for her hurting child you realize someone understands.

Yet, I’m reminded that Another understands completely.  He is the one who walks beside us–no matter the place or circumstance.  The World holds no power over Him.  The roaring flames may lick at tender flesh and the World shouts, “Burn! Burn!”  But, He is there–ever protecting, faithfully guarding, lovingly guiding.  Follow me.  Don’t be afraid.  I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.

And despite our human frailty and doubt, we trust and believe.  And when we don’t?  He is still there.

Then…deliverance.  We breathe deeply and everything is fresh and new.  Our lungs fill with the sweetness of God’s goodness and mercy and we know–those wounds, fears, and fires are only momentary.

 

Reflection

Have you been asking God to deliver you from a difficult situation?  How have you seen his faithfulness in the midst of the struggle?

 

Word of Power

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4

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Was peace an illusion?  For years, my haunted heart yearned for its calming balm.  Christ promised His followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.   I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27)  But the tears scattered across my people and the anguish twisting my stomach evidenced a complete lack of peace…  How I longed to claim that peace as my own!

I’ve come to understand that, in many ways, peace is something Christ offers but we have to choose it.  His perfect peace is available, but in order to claim it we must lay down our troubles and fears.  It’s as if a beautifully wrapped gift has been placed at our feet–waiting to be unwrapped.  When we clasp today’s worries tightly in our arms–refusing to give them up–it’s impossible to pick up that which we have longed to take hold of.

So…today I’m going to drop the heavy burden at His feet.  Instead, I’m going to trust Him to deal with those worries.  I’m claiming His peace this morning.  Will you, too, dear friend?

Scripture for reflection You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  (Isaiah 26:3)

Action step Create a list of all of today’s concerns, worries, and burdens.  Give each one in prayer to the Lord and throw the list away.  Meditate on Isaiah 26:3 throughout the day when your peace begins to dwindle.

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