Taking Fear Personally

Someone lied to you and you found out. Someone rejected you flat out. Someone ignored you, someone hurt you, someone who was supposed to care for you didn’t.

We all have our someones.

If we’re honest, everyone we know is a someone; everyone gives us cause for suspicion.

I’m not paranoid- many of our fears boil down to a well-founded fact: people aren’t perfect. We have good reason to be afraid as long as people aren’t perfect. Reality reminds us every day.

People misjudge us. People have motives in conflict with our own. People make mistakes. People live outside of our control. People have choices. People are insufficient for us.

This world, likewise, is full of uncertainty and imperfection. Beautiful as it is, the world never works in exactly the way we’d like. It isn’t safe. Predictability is an illusion. Sinkholes open up under safe streets. Lightning strikes people in mild, safe regions.

Fear makes sense.

In Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, we see this firsthand.

Kelly doesn’t run from fear. She doesn’t ask us to scare ourselves out of feeling it or to grow numb to it.

This is personal for me.

Once upon a time, the unofficial topic of my studies was scaring myself silly about whether or not it was worth it to try to do any good in this world since everything’s broken anyway. I was new to faith and wanted to serve the Lord, but feared failing to honor Him.

An advisor asked me- “Do you believe the Lord can handle anything?” The question stuck.

Through clumsily embarking on a different career path than intended to grouchily moving away from everything I knew to painfully setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships, I found out the Lord could handle imperfect plans, circumstances, and relationships.

He could use the things that hurt me and disappointed me to His glory because His ways are higher (and much better!) than my ways.

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But fear fighting got more personal when I picked up the aptly titled book.

I began to read in words what the Lord has been piecing together in my heart: The Lord can also handle working through and in me.

God can display His power in my obvious weakness.

God can redeem for His good use my meager offerings, insecurities, and insufficiency.

God can rework my fear that imperfection is failure into an awed fear of His perfect work.

Yours’ too.

Fighting fear as God’s own children isn’t a matter of learning to lock our knocking knees or bite our quivering lips. There is no 5-step plan for us to fear failing at. We don’t have to undertake an intimidating process of becoming someone we’re not. Fear isn’t squelched when we muster up the guts to stare it down…but it loses its power over us when we fix our eyes on Him.

We let go of all we are not and see all that God is,” Kelly says. Her proposal is simple: “The Spirit says start. Start fearing God rather than fearing everyone is going to take you down.”*

Kelly knows fear, and she knows we can’t beat it by pretending we can. Instead, she reminds us who can and who has.

Our Savior.

Bravery is fearing God.

bravery-is-fearing-god-1

Bravery is believing Him about all of the implications of who He is. It’s humbling ourselves before Him because we know Him and we want to know Him more. It’s bringing what’s inside of and outside of our control to His throne, imperfection laid bare because His grace is enough.

Choosing to fear the Lord is choosing confidence because of Jesus. Trust because of Jesus. Awe because of Jesus. Hope because of Jesus.

All because the One who is over all is in us, with us, and working through us fearlessly.**

We can take our fears personally to the personal God. Right up close to Him we can fix our eyes on Him. When our fears come into perspective before His greatness, they end up looking much smaller.

Thank you, Lord, for welcoming us to your fearless faithfulness, thank you for being the only way, the truth, and the life for fear fighting, faithful living, and eternal hope. Help us not to seek or fear anything other than your “only.” You are sufficient, amazing, and perfect. What good news for us imperfect people.

*Pg49, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
**Ephesians 4:6; Galatians 2:20
Kelly shares regular encouragement on her blog, Purposeful Faith. Her first book, Fear Fighting, is available beginning January 3rd, 2017. She’s been an example to me and a kind friend for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful to share her book with you. The Lord has strengthened me through it and I hope He will you too!

{Please note this post is entered into Kelly’s contest. You can vote here for this or another post entered. You can also enter the contest yourself! This post is number 15 if you’d like to vote for it!}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Bringing the Old Into the New

 

Living anew amongst old things is tough. Young people working in offices filled with pre-dominantly middle-aged adults know all about that. It’s hard to “be” the change when it seems nothing is changing around you.

But it’s also hard to have a set way and to adapt when newness comes along.

Middle-aged adults in offices struggle to work alongside young folks just starting out. It’s hard to feel like old news. It’s difficult to be set aside for the younger, fresher, and more exciting.

As the old adage goes, though: make new friends, but keep the old. Some are silver and the others gold.

All throughout Scripture God demonstrated the importance of unifying what has been with what is current –and even future.

Jesus referenced the Old Testament with respect and as if it had authority, even as He brought a new covenant into being.

We are charged with the care of the elderly and the widowed.

Jesus explained the important of bringing the old up to the new in Matthew 5:17:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Something the Lord understands (as the creator of time itself) is that time builds on itself. History makes way for the future. The elderly must have existed for there to be the young.

Though newness in Christ, and in much of what He provides, is a blessing, we’re never to stop being grateful for all the long-past, well-loved gifts He’s given. We’re never to be fooled into thinking that the old, ill-fitted is worthless simply because it’s done it’s time.

About much more than just utilitarian value, our Lord places worth in fulfillment. That’s the Word He uses in reference to the melding of the new and the old covenants. It’s the word used to describe His relationship to the old prophecies.

Fulfilling is about bringing to completion that which was begun previously.

Young people in offices aren’t to destroy the foundation laid by older workers. Older workers aren’t to despise the youth.

As we set out in a new year, in new jobs, on new projects, with new friends and in new opportunities, the past isn’t to be forgotten. New good habits shouldn’t replace old good habits. New discoveries about the Lord shouldn’t push old truths aside.

That’s hard, too, isn’t it? We’re an all-or-nothing sort of people. In our pride, we place more value on things when they’ve come at the expense of something (or someone) else. My plan is only as good as how much better it is than his.

Humility. It takes humility to bring together the old and the new. Whether in the law, in relationship, at work, or in our faith, we can humble ourselves to give thanks for both.

Watch as He fulfills, step by passing step, making all the old new and all the new old until eternity is met.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.


 

New Amongst the Old

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment,

for the patch will pull away from the garment,

making the tear worse.”

–Matthew 9:16

With the New Year, new resolutions are made. New outlooks are had, and, if nothing else, a sense of hope and possibility is renewed. Within weeks, it all tends to fall apart though.

It’s difficult to live anew amongst the old. We go back to the same jobs and the same co-workers. Day after day, the routine is much the same. Our needs have hardly changed. So as we try to maintain a better perspective and uphold our resolve to do or be better people, it soon seems our everyday lives are even harder than before.

What we experience in the New Year is much like this passage describes: the new making the old seem worse. The old does not adjust to the new easily, making the new feel ill-fitted.

Do you have that sense in your days? As if it isn’t really feasible to improve because nothing around you is?

We aren’t the whole issue. It isn’t just you and I that need improving. Our circumstances, relationships, and lives (though outside of our control!) all need to be renewed.

Fortunately for us, the bridegroom has come.

The “old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17.)

His renewal in our lives affects everything and make all things new for us. His mercies are new every day. He causes the sun to rise new every day. There are new opportunities each day. And moment by moment, He renews in our hearts a right Spirit.

What an encouragement to us!

Though we sometimes feel like new patches stuck on an old, worn-out dress, the Lord assures us that He has clothed us anew. When we wait on His timing and trust in His continuing-creation, the old becomes new, and we do too.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

The Lord Erases Our Regrets

This post is also shared on Purposeful Faith along with many other bloggers sharing about the Lord’s work in their life. Click the link to read others : )  

I’m a know-needer. It’s not that I think I know it all, but that I want to know it all. The “what-ifs” of life are maddening to me. When they come up, I identify every possibility…and I follow it to its end. At least that way I feel that I’ll know what to do with whichever option comes true. And at least then I won’t have to live with regrets…right?

No matter how much we try to know, we don’t know it all. There are always opportunities we can’t see. The Lord is always at work on something we don’t even know needs work. It seems that knowledge, no matter how fervently we chase it, eludes us in some ways.

Relying too heavily on our limited knowledge leaves us with regrets…or at least in the position of having to decide between making choices based on what we know versus what we believe.

Have you had to make a choice that you knew was right but that you thought you would regret? I have. Over and over again.

Recently, I turned down a job offer. For a position I’ve prayed for for years. With enough hours to bolster our bank account. Every bit of knowledge I have dictated that I ought to find a way to make t work, that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for. The Lord told me no. When I said yes to Him and no to the offer, I thought I would regret it soon.

The next day, another call came. Another offer. The position –but somewhere else with better hours and better pay. And it came with the peace of the Lord.

All I had to do was wait one day. I couldn’t have known what was coming. I couldn’t have known that it could get better than that first offer seemed. I couldn’t have known that regret for a day would be erased by the Lord to make the slate clean.

Thank the Lord –He knew. Thank the Lord –He even washes our regrets anew!

That’s what happens when we regret and the Lord erases it. We take a slate that we’ve muddied and dirtied with doubt and with whole reliance on reason, and we toss it out. Regret makes it seem like there is no turning back and that slate is now useless forever. He erases it, He makes it clean.

Romans 8:27-28 tells us that “He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)

Who would have thought that even our regrets could be used for the good of those who love Him?

For all the ways my knowledge fails me, I’ve found the Lord does not. Even when I fail. Even when my choices seem backwards, but right. He erases regret because regret it about my way –and when that slate is clean, He makes beautiful works of art that are better than anything I could ever dream.

Today I’m glad I turned down that job. I’m so glad we didn’t get the cat then with all the housing turmoil we later unexpectedly experienced (and the dog we were able to get eventually instead!)

I’m glad that money has kept us at times from making decisions to do things more “typically” because we’ve had some amazing relationships out of it. I’m glad for some of my worst moments because without some of the mistakes and brokenness I’ve regretted, I would never have let people into my heart as far as I have. These are my anti-regrets. These are what keep me saying “Yes, Lord” when I want to say “no.”

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, and 
#Intentionally Pursuing