Fear (noun): a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc; whether the threat is real or imagined. Synonyms: dismay, terror Antonyms: courage, calm
Good morning friends, sorry it has been so long since I've written. I've missed it. But I've had emotions I couldn't express in words, and thoughts I hadn't quite worked out yet with God, and I haven't felt like I should get in front of a computer with typing fingers until I had worked it out with Him and had something helpful or hopeful to say. :)
Two weekends ago I had the privilege of attending a weekend retreat with my oldest daughter Allie called Outback America. Primarily for the enhancement of your vertical and horizontal relationships, Outback America's purpose is to strengthen your walk with God and your relationship with another person, either your spouse or your child. Brian and I attended together last spring and now Allie and I came back as a mother-daughter "couple" for the fall session. Oh, the sovereignty of God. This came at a perfect time for me and for Allie.
Allie and I got there a little early on Friday and had some free time to kill. My fearless outdoor girl wanted nothing more than to hike the wooded hills- not on the worn paths, oh no. My girl wanted to blaze new trails that had never been tread before. Yes, this is my child. As she stepped on rocks, leading the way before me, I found myself going, "Watch your step! Is that rock secure? Watch out for snakes! Oh Allie, I'm not sure we should go there! Be careful!" There was a distinct anxiety within me as I watched my daughter go deeper into the woods and step on what I would call snake-infested crevices without a trace of fear. Of course I felt I should follow closely behind her in case any of my fears were realized and she needed her Momma.
When we got safely back to camp (without seeing any snakes! whew!), the first mother-daughter pair we met from our small group was a mother with her 13-year-old Down's Syndrome child. The girl, Jamie, could instantly tell that Allie was a kind soul and became immediately attached to her side. :) Her mother and I began talking and we hit it off perfectly too. I was amazed at her calm, gentle spirit and sense of humor in the midst of dealing with Jamie, who often couldn't communicate as well as the other girls in the group and who often had to be led out of the group setting if she got too loud or couldn't control herself. The mother's grace in the midst of what seemed like chaos, astounded me. On the last day I told her what a blessing she was to me, and with tears in her eyes she replied, "I used to be a control freak. God has used Jamie to make me a better person and bring a greater joy to my heart. She has been the biggest blessing in my life." WOW.
Later in the weekend, I learned of a mother whom I had met at the spring session who I remembered being pregnant at the time. She had delivered her seemingly perfectly healthy baby girl two weeks earlier and brought her home, only to find her dead 9 days later. They had buried their daughter the day before coming to Outback. I got the chance to talk with her. She told me that if the doctors had done a few more tests in utero, they might could have determined the problem with the baby's liver. I asked if she wished they had known. "No," she said confidently. "If we had known there was a problem, my pregnancy would have been full of fear and anxiety. She would have gone straight to the NICU and I might not have ever been able to hold her or introduce her to her siblings. The way that it happened, I got nine beautiful days with my daughter. God is good." WOW. I watched during the praise sessions as she and her husband lifted their hands in praise to the God who had just taken their precious child from them. And I wept. I was humbled.
God was speaking very loudly to me during all of this. In fact I think He was SHOUTING. :) "Julie! Let it go! All those fears you are holding onto! Let it go!! I AM! Sovereign! Good! The Alpha and Omega! I Am the I Am for everything you need! Why are you afraid? I am with you!!" I looked at these people who were living some of the very fears I had feared, and they were okay! God was saying, "Even if. . . . I AM. Even if. . . I AM. Even if. . . I AM. Take your eyes off your fears and keep them on Me, high and lifted up above it all."
I had feared some things concerning Allie and her future, and God reminded me in no uncertain terms that He is the I AM for her as well. He has her future in His hands. I have nothing to fear! We came home to a parenting seminar at church that reminded us NOT to parent out of fear, but out of love! 2 Timothy 1:12 promises that He is able to protect what I have entrusted to Him- namely, my children. He is able! Even when I am not. What relief!
I have been pouring over Scriptures about fear and those synonyms and antonyms I mentioned. Did you know they are all mentioned in the Bible hundreds of times? God feels very strongly about fear! Look these up when you have a few minutes:
Joshua 1:9 and 8:1
1 Chronicles 28:20
Isaiah 35:3-4, 30:15, 26:3
Matthew 6:25-34, 8:26
How about this version of James 5:8- "Be as calm in your waiting; let your hearts be strong; because the coming of the Lord is near."
In all of these Scriptures, the Lord promises to be near. To comfort and quiet us with His love. His presence brings peace and healing and calm. He commands us NOT to fear. He doesn't promise that the things we fear won't happen, but that when they do, He will be enough.
At the end of the weekend, we each had the opportunity to write something down on paper and literally nail it to a cross as a visual reminder that Christ's death on the cross was enough to cover it. I wrote "FEAR" in big letters and nailed it to the cross. I remind myself of that visual every time I am tempted to fear. I see it nailed to the cross whenever I catch myself saying, "I'm afraid that. . . " or "I worry that. . . " He commanded me not to do that because HE IS BIGGER THAN MY FEARS. I am catching myself and changing my words from anxious words to believing words.
I challenge you to do the same, my friends. "Do not fear, for I AM with you." -Isaiah 41:10