Fear

“This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Within context, the Lord is commanding Joshua, and the people of Israel to be courageous. Not because there was nothing that would normally cause fear or discouragement for someone facing such opposition, but because GOD WAS WITH THEM, they had nothing to fear.  That’s the key.  God was with them.  God already knew the outcome and he wasn’t going to abandon them.  He had it.

When God is with us, we have nothing to fear.

There will be circumstances in this world, every single day where we could have good reason to fear.  Good reason to be afraid, anxious, worried.  And yet, God’s word says, we have nothing to fear but God himself.

I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:4-7

With all the damage and potential for harm, injustice and pain, God’s answer is, “do not be afraid, you are with more than many sparrows.”  We are his kids.  Now this is in the context of the disciples going out and preaching the gospel, Jesus warns them that they will be flogged, thrown in jail and some even martyred, however I believe it applies to us as believers.  We have God with us, of whom or what do we have to be afraid?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Self-discipline.  For me, I think fear can be a drug.  It’s not even a nice one.  The irony is I literally hate real drugs because they can make my body feel out of my control.  And yet fear is a drug in itself that can cause us to loose our grip of control.  It distorts reality, and then starts everything spinning so much that then what is true and what is a lie are no longer distinguishable.  And it takes discipline and prayer to not give into it.

Once I felt God say to me, “do not take counsel from fear.”

I say all this because I feel like recently the Lord has spoken to me regarding my fears.  I am planning on getting lasik eye surgery towards the end of next week for my birthday.  The outcome sounds fantastic, and I really believe it will be.  When I prayed about it, I felt like the Lord showed me that I’d say, “I wish I would have done this sooner.”  So that’s a good end in my book.  The thing is… I haven’t gotten it yet.  Screeeeech!!!!

To get the surgery I have to have lazers shoot at my eyeballs while a vacuum holds them in place.  There are a lot of people who are not bothered by this in a bit, however when I think through having to take the drugs to numb my eyes, (something that is not my favorite feeling) and then not pass out from the loss of control over my body (which I’ve done in the past!) it freaks me out a little bit!  My eyeballs!!!  The smell of burning flesh!!!

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So naturally, I talked to the Lord about it.

He gave me an awesome word picture.  He showed me two different pictures.

In the first one, I’m waiting in a dark, cave-like hallway set up to be a fun waiting zone, like a cave or hallway at Disneyland.  It’s a bit dark, but has lights and is completely safe and a little boring.

The other picture is of a fun house, but it’s not really fun.  Mirrors are warped, tons of neon colors, music that is way too loud, stuff spinning, florescent lights, it reminds me of a cheap fair ride.  Inside, it is difficult to get anywhere and very disruptive and the fun is more for the maker and less the patron, almost to mock those who enter.  As though the creator could watch and laugh at those who enter.  And yet, outside, it’s a cool night, still, quiet and calm.  That is reality.

I feel like the fun house word picture is fear.  It seems like fun, but inside everything is warped and disorienting.  Outside, reality, is calm, cool and still.  Reality doesn’t change because you step into a fun house, but stay long enough and it will begin to mess with your mind.  It doesn’t make any of it true.  Outside remains a perfect calm night.

The darkness in both word pictures may represent that there will be instances where we wont see all the details, and yet there is no danger in it because God can see all of it.

The first word picture is safe.  And it’s designed with the purpose of making it fun for the patron.  Every detail was thought of (just like in Disneyland) and it was safe.  For the record, I REALLY like Disneyland, and I’m always impressed how even the tunnels and waiting areas are set up for the amusement of the patrons, they take every effort and energy and pour it into the finished product all for the amusement of the patron.

And that’s the difference.  In the one instance, the joke is on the patron and the maker gets to enjoy the foolishness and make fun of the one inside the “fun house” and it’s not really fun for those who enter.  In the other, the maker goes over every single detail, with the patron in mind, all for the patron’s pleasure.  The maker does all the work, just so we can enjoy it, and even if it’s just a waiting area for a fun ride, the details are all there, everything thought of in advance.  He did all the work for us to just enjoy it.

Isn’t that how God is?  He even has the details of the waiting set up to be perfect for us.  And that’s God’s grace.  He cares more about us than himself.  Jesus died for our sins, so we might enjoy life everlasting.  He gave of himself, for us.

The Lord spoke to me a few times just today about the upcoming lazer eye surgery.  Because it’s been keeping me up at night.  This morning, I was going through old photos and I found this one.  It’s of my dad holding Ellie because Davin was acting like a sleeping monster, and she was legitimately scared.  The older two were having so much fun with the “sleeping monster”, however Ellie really did become afraid.  So my dad held her.  He didn’t stop the game, he picked her up and held her.

When I saw the picture, the Lord prompted my heart reminding me that he holds me in this way.  That he loves me with that same compassion and that he’d hold me while having lazers shoot at my eyeballs.  That I didn’t have to be in control, but just to trust him.  That he would be with me.  I’d have nothing to fear even though I would be in the dark about so much of it.

Tonight as I walked to my car alone, leaving my dad and Davin with the kids, I felt the Lord walk with me, arm around my shoulder, “I’ve got you.”

Later this evening, I held my youngest before bed.  Just rocking her in her chair, savoring her beautiful hair, and soaking up the sweet cuddle moments.  I felt the Spirit remind me, “I love you just as you love her.  I made you, I adore you, I’ve got you.”

I say all this not because I am special or that lazer eye surgery is terrifically terrifying – it’s not.  I say this to tell you, God CARES, SOOOO much even when we are afraid of stupid things.  He feels the same way about you.

But we have to believe him.  We have to walk in that truth and reality, otherwise things can get distorted.  We have to have the self-control to not let our mind go to a fun house.

In all reality, when I’m not psyched out, I’m actually excited for lazers to shoot at my eyeballs and make my vision clear for the rest of my life.  That’s going to be SO crazy to wake up and be able to see in the morning.  I’ve never known that.  I can snorkel and swim without having to worry about loosing a contact, or travel without having to bring extra glasses and solution. That’s the Disneyland ride I’m waiting for in the hallway word picture.  But I have to go through the somewhat boring hallway (the surgery) to get to the fun part.

God loves me so much, that even when I am unable to calm myself down, when I am so afraid I can hardly think straight, when I feel like I might pass out in fear – God cares enough to wrap his arms around me and ease my fears.  My silly fears.  All in SUCH love.  He doesn’t mock me or tell me to get over it, or even minimize the concerns, he simply reminds me of who he is and who I am to him.

You’re his kid that he loves, and that just like with Joshua and the Israelites, “ God is with you wherever you go”.

You have nothing to fear.

Life in all its fullness

I’m kinda on this kick where I’m REALLY into de-stressing my life.  De-cluttering my life, De-overcommitment-ing my life (not a real word).  Basically taking some serious time to look at all the small and great details of my life, and pray over them, asking God, “Do I really need this in my life?  Is THIS what you want me doing right now?” Sometimes God calls us to do stuff.  Good stuff, fun stuff, God stuff – whatever.

But then sometimes we find ourselves doing too much stuff.

I know I’m doing too much stuff when I stop really listening to his voice.  If I am running around all day, from one thing to the next, trying to be somewhere on time, letting someone down by being late, feeling as if there aren’t enough hours in my day to get stuff accomplished, I know I’ve stopped listening and I’m no longer hearing God’s voice super clearly.  I think I know how to run my own life even though it’s riddled with stress.

God is not at the center of stress.  He is at the center of peace.  God is a God of peace and he doesn’t abide in stress.  He just doesn’t live there.  So if I’m choosing to live there – I’m choosing NOT to live or abide with him.  It’s not like he ever leaves me, but when I walk away from him towards stress and overcommitment land, I can’t hear his voice so good when he speaks to me, because I’m not close to him.  Recently, I’ve felt him leading me back to him, back to peace.

Yesterday I was running late.  I was trying to get the kids ready for preschool, I slept in (my favorite treat to myself) and one thing led to the next where I found myself trying to rush out the door.  I had the whole car packed with all three kids (a task in itself), my keys, purse and water, and then I realized I hadn’t made a latte.  I know, first world problem, but I had the almond milk in the fridge and I figured since I was already late, I may as well enjoy my late drive to preschool with a latte in hand – I’m trying to relax more even in the stressful moments and not worry about the little details, like being on time;-)  I had already opened the garage door to head out when I made the split decision to go back inside.

Now, normal Rebekah would have left the garage door open with my kids, keys and purse in the car because normal Rebekah believes she lives in a pretty friendly neighborhood.  BUT, I heard a different voice.  The still, small, very, very, quite voice in the back of my head said, “shut the garage door.”  That’s it.  I have learned to listen to this still, small, very, very, quiet voice.

I shut the garage door.

I left the kids to sing and entertain themselves in relative safety while I ran inside to make a quick latte.

Within 30 seconds, my husband says from upstairs, “there’s someone coming to the door, let me answer it” in a serious voice.  I THOUGHT he said, “there’s a burglar coming to the door let me answer it.” I REALLY heard burglar.  So I stayed where I was and listened intently slash told Jesus I was concerned.  The guy sounded sketchy and was asking if so-and-so were home, and pretended he was sorta a contractor or something.  When my husband asked him the address he was looking for, he couldn’t even answer the question.  He had been standing across our street, staring at our house “talking” on a cel phone while his bud was skateboarding up and down our neighborhood streets.  They had a bunch of random stuff in the back of their truck, a kids bike, a table saw – an array of looked to be stolen goods.  I know it’s like, innocent until proven guilty, but I felt like the guy coming to our door was not up to any good.

It was at this moment that I said to the Lord, “Thank you Jesus for making the suggestion to close the garage door.”  My three babies were all strapped into their car seats in an unlocked car with my keys and purse on the passenger seat.  And yet they were perfectly safe because God recommended I do something as simple as close the garage door.  I was so glad I was listening.

Sometimes the enemy plans stuff to harm us, and sometimes God says, “nope.”

I believe this is because we pray and ask him.  We seek him for his will, ask him for his provision and protection.

There have been times where the enemy had plans to harm me, and God said, “nope” and I didn’t listen.  I was too busy.  I thought I knew how to run my life.  I wasn’t as interested in God’s suggestions.  I look back in regret that I didn’t listen to his voice.

It’s not that I wouldn’t hear him, I would only half listen.

I used to run at night.  My parents always told me not to run at night.  But being 17 and in high school, I did it anyway.  One night in particular, I could hear a voice almost YELLING, “do not go running tonight , especially in that tiny little tank top.” I remember it was only around 6:30 pm but it was dark and there was a light drizzle.  I said, “fine, fine, I’ll go put on a long sleeve shirt.” But as I continued to run, although more clothed, the voice persisted, “do not go running tonight, go home.”  It kept insisting, I couldn’t shake it.  I finally said, “Hey voice, I KNOW what I’m doing in my life, I KNOW I live in a safe place, nothing bad will ever happen to me! Relax! I’ve got this.”

So I went running that night with intention.

And I was attacked.

It was on a normally busy street, but I was completely alone, in the dark between streetlights.  A man came up behind me.  I only heard three footsteps before he grabbed me by the waist tight with both arms.  At first I thought it was a friend joking.  I can’t explain the fear and absolute clear understanding that I COULD NOT help myself when I realized it was not a friend and that there was not a soul around to help me.

I remember looking up to the night sky and realizing only God could help me.  He was the only one who saw.

I screamed to him twice, with everything inside of me.  I screamed for him to help me.

And He did.

He saved me that night.

He rescued me.

The man let go and looked like he was hit in the face with a bat.  He stumbled around confused, with his face towards the ground.  I didn’t wait to see if he was alright, with adrenaline pulsing through my veins I sprinted all the way home to my front door where I collapsed in the foyer of my house.  I still say an angel hit him in the face with a 2×4, but that’s just my own idea;-)

It took me months to feel okay by myself even in the safety of my own house.  I don’t believe God wanted me to have that terrifying experience or even have to walk through the aftermath of it.  I believe he was trying to keep me from that danger all together.  But I didn’t listen.  I thought I knew better, I was literally running my own life.

And even though I didn’t listen completely to his voice, he still protected me.  That my friends is God’s true grace.

Despite the bad press God gets in this world, He actually wants good for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  So God is speaking this to a repentant Israel in this passage, but it applies to us as well.

It’s the enemy who wants to opposite.  In John 10:10, Jesus tells us, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  Jesus actually desires for us to have life, and have it to the full.  In fact that is precisely the reason he went to the cross, on his own will.  How incredible.

When I think about this, I juxtapose it against my own idea of what I think God wants for me: working for him, being perfect, getting it all right, earning his love and grace.

It doesn’t line up.  I am STILL, after being a Christ follower for almost 30 years trying to get it into my head who God really is, and what he REALLY wants for me and from me.

I don’t think God wants us experiencing even a tenth or a millionth of the pain and frustration we experience, it’s just that I don’t think we are really listening to his guidance on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s his voice telling us to forgive someone, to really forgive and hand the pain and hurt over to him. Other times it’s his voice reminding us to slow down and jut trust him, or to not be completely selfish and give some of what we have to others in need.

He speaks all kinds of stuff- and what he says to me, might not be the same message he’s giving you.

This is why he calls us to a personal relationship with him.  Not an “I go to church on Sunday and hear what the preacher says” kind of thing.  Don’t get me wrong, God speaks through the preacher, but God has more detailed, more intimate stuff to share with you.  Most of it probably revolves around how much he loves you and wants good stuff for you life.  Some of it might be conviction to give up something you’re holding onto that’s not good for you.

I don’t know exactly what he wants to speak to you – but if you listen, I can promise with my own life learned experience, that you will have more of what Jesus said he wants for you, to have “life in all its fullness.”

Who doesn’t want that?  Isn’t that what we’re all striving after anyway?

As always, thanks so much for reading.