Tag Archives: fear

Come Father from the Fringes

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Worry and stress permeate when the gospel is not big enough or constrained to a small portion our life, unable to bring life to all areas. When the gospel is made silent, reserved for religious “times, activities or topics” it leaves room for one thing, humanism. Humanism is the idea that humanity is the ultimate or thing of prime importance. It is a full dependance upon humanity and ultimately self. And so I am left to wonder who reigns? The Lord or me? 

We live in a world that says spirituality and religion do not “fit” or are not permissible in certain spheres or is not enough to solve problems. So we turn to man made constructs, psychology or science to solve them. The problem I am facing, if I leave my heart unchecked, is being pulled into the delusion that I can solve my own problems. My fears drive me to striving to do more in hopes that I can prevent pain and hardship. My stress and worry opposes Godly contentment. My stress is a marker of something deep inside of me that is rebelling against the Truth. 

And with deep tragedy in my soul, forsaking my Maker and abandoning the truth, I wonder why the worries of the world are destroying me.

Why isn’t the Gospel working?

Because it isn’t the Gospel at all. Jesus came and liberated all of life, not just part of my life. He is not just reserved for quiet moments with him. Not just the spaces of worship or community Bible study. All of it

And so the poverty of my spirit and worried, hurried mindset communicate there are boundaries for the Gospel.

Oh no, sweet self. There are NO boundaries for Jesus. No part of life that the empty tomb, nail pierced hands, resurrected Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father left untouched.

So why do I live in fear?

Because I am buying into the self worship of humanism, the world’s structure that pushes God into the fringes until he is “no more worshiped.” Instead, I collect all things that glitter gold (my own wisdom, knowledge, capacity and capabilities) and I melt them down and construct with my hands a statue. As I look at this image, it resembles me. And I join the culture of individualism and buy the lie that I am worthy of worship. I am the ultimate provider and solution to life’s trials and tribulations. This glittering statue says “my way, my control, my preferences, my sacrifices all for my experience.” I assert this in my heart, and bow down to me while proclaiming to worship the Lord. 

But self worship has a price. A heavy burden. It demands I save myself. 

Am I willing to resist myself and invite my Father from the fringes into all things? Am I willing to melt the golden stature of self? Am I willing to oppose cultural norms of self worship- that declare and promote a message that me the individual, the human, the experience is ultimate- and chose the Gospel? 

Yes. Why? The burden is too heavy. My finite mind and body has reached capacity and my soul aches under the weight of trying to save myself. And I weep, I weep for the deluded heart inside of me that proclaims the Gospel and longs to live all for Him. Oh Father, have mercy on me. 

So come Lord Jesus. Come to every part and area of me and overturn the temple tables of self worship. And when I resist, in your gentle way show me how to keep the alter for You pure, and my knees bowed to the One who deserves all the glory and honor and praise. Oh come Father from the fringes. 

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

When we believe the miracle of the Gospel pertains to all of our life and turn to Him for help, He reveals Himself to us. And He grants us rest. I want that. I am tired of trying to save myself.

Oh great merciful God, forgive me for the times you have been pushed to the fringes of my life. You are the Truth. You are the solution to my weary, worried heart. Please, give me rest. Come Father from the fringes.

A Journey to Life with Less Worry

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You probably know the sound. The familiar voice that says… “Hurry, you have more to do. Why are you so slow? Don’t forget about that one thing. What if it doesn’t get done? If it doesn’t get done, you’ll be a failure. What about your finances? What if there isn’t enough to pay your bills? What if your next check bounces or the card gets declines? Oh… and your relationship with so and so, they didn’t text/email/call you back. Maybe they are mad at you? And he, he was short with you this afternoon. Maybe he is unhappy with you. What if you did something wrong?” 

You know that tape that plays in your head that is like a black hole that draws you in until you don’t know which way is top from bottom. Every possible subject becomes a matter of worry. As your mind reels about all of the possible things that may go wrong, your stomach muscles clench and butterflies form anxiously flitting about. With each flap your pulse gets higher and your lungs struggle for air. 

Or maybe it’s the late night to-do list that is running through your mind as you collapse on your pillow. As the list grows into a monster inside your mind, it takes life and swallows you up. You become restless and sleep leaves you. Tomorrow’s worries steal today’s sleep as you chase them into the new today. As you drag yourself out of bed, longing for the next moment you will find yourself there. Secretly you wish your day away believing that sleep is the best escape from your anxious reality. 

These are the sounds of worry…. and there are many more. But, I am sure you know the tapes well. I do. 

Worry, when multiplied becomes stress. And stress steels. It robs peace, joy and presence in today. Stress takes from the very life and fixates on every problem, and possible horrific outcome and spins a web that says “Control will fix this. Do more, accomplish more. Success= happiness.”  Stress lies telling you that life begins when the To-Do list ends (which is never, by the way). 

But what’s worse, is stress can and will manifest itself in your body when it becomes high enough. When the pressure builds and worry reproduces, it will make itself known. It hates being ignored and will make a scene. 

This my friends is where I found myself a month ago. 

Every worry, problem, possible problem, assignment (I am in grad school), to-do became so huge that nothing could console me. The stranger thing was I was coping to the point that I was in denial that I was stressed. I ran from task to task and was exhausted and hardly productive. My mood would swing violently as more was added to the list. When unexpected events would come about, it was more than I could bear. The burden was crushing me. I longed for my bed and cried every morning when my alarm went off, I would avoid getting up as long as I could. My heart, mind and body was looking for rest. Finally one day,  I found myself in the doctor with my limbs literally burning and my head pounding and the tests began. 

I should mention that medical tests do not help stress. In fact, it makes it worse. And so as the doctor waded through the possible reasons, I felt worse. The interesting thing is after all the tests, the conclusion is I am stressed. Oh really?  The pain and burning was coming from my neck and back that were clenched because of worry. 

Why does the body react to worry? Someone said to me that stress, which is the product of worry, actually is fear. 

Maybe my body is literally bracing itself for impact. Fear that tragedy, hardship or whatever the figment of my “worry tape” is playing at any given moment will actually happen. And so my body reacts to what is in my mind by clenching my muscles in fear that I will not be okay. 

And so my friends… I have begun the journey to find peace in the midst of a chaotic world that in fact does produce reason to worry. In a culture that demands constant activity, I am looking for rest. And with my “always have a plan five years out” personality I am learning to enjoy the journey. 

So will you come with me as I follow my Father, my Lord and Savior to a life with less worry? 

 

photo credit: iStockphoto. by Jennifer Goodman Linn

Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

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I am tired of apologizing for who I am. Sorry, I am not sorry.

I was not made to live up to someone else’s expectations, stretching myself to reach the bar that has been set high by an idealistic world. I was not made to meet another’s needs, expectations or wants. I was not made to be less, or made to be more or made to be stuffed into a mold. I am not here to satisfy another’s void or created to look a certain way. I am not a standard to measure up to, or measure against. I am not another statistic. I wasn’t made to feel sorry for, or to improve. I wasn’t made to look at or lust after or compete with. I was not made to victimize or accommodate. I am not made to make another comfortable or to be comfortable.

I was made with intension, and yet I have been living as though I haven’t. I have been living in bondage, apologizing when friends, family, loved ones were disappointed with who I am. I apologized and and then proceeded to feel sorry for who I am.

My Creator cries when my heart agrees and apologizes for who I am. He did not create me to cater to another. No, He made me with the utmost attention to detail. His heart breaks when I look in the mirror and the labels hang off of me like a discarded name-tag. I push them on with each agreement, making them stick, somehow believing they will help me identify myself. He whispers to me “Erin, you, are fearfully and wonderfully made, praise me for how you were made.” Am I? So quickly I reject. I reject myself and refuse to praise, I reject His creation.

I live as though I ought to be fearful because I was made.

Fearfully. Maybe. I fearfully agree with the comments of others. Fearfully agree that I am “too much”, “too intense”, “too deep”.  Fearful that my deep concern and care for others overwhelms and pushes people away. Fearful that my light-heartedness and playfulness is dismissed as immature. I fear my laughter is too loud and my comments will offend. I fear. I fear that the intensional creation I am is too much, but not enough. That I am discardable commodity and defined by what I can give, who I am or where I have been. I fear that my value is measurable and a quantity that disappoints. I fear rejection.

I fear my own creation.

But this is not what He meant when He said fearfully.

Wonderfully. My Creator says wonderfully. My deep compassion for others and need for authentic connection was intensional. It is not.too.much. My intensity and willingness to ask tough uncomfortable questions was not an accident. The way my brain thinks about things, contemplates and longs to understand was not a manufactures error. It was with His delight that I would long to know and seek answers. My silliness and need for laughter brings Him joy. He smiles at my outbursts of laughter and childlike humor. He created my intense emotions and deep desire to be known. He created my desire to know others, console, encourage and delight in their gifts.

I live between the tension of the fearfully and wonderfully. In a confused tension of worldly fear and reverent awe of His workmanship. As I strip off the name tags, I can see His marvelous works in Me behind what I thought defined me.

I gaze upon the masterpiece that He sees, unobstructed by lies.

Fearfully is meant to cause reverence to the One who crafted me. To fall down in awe at the ways he created me. Not because of something I have done but because of the very work of His hands.

So I am not sorry for how I was made. I was made with deep intension and total purpose. Though others may not see it as such, I will not apologize. I refuse to live my life for the pleasure of humanity. Instead I will fix my eyes on Him, and praise His name. For I am in awe of how fearfully and wonderfully made I really am.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139: 14

What are You Worshipping?

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Fear.

It grabs onto our souls and digs its claws in deep. It wraps itself around the inner workings of our heart like a vine, slowly strangling and suffocating until we are captive. Fear can start out small and insignificant, but with every small conformation that it possibly could be legitimate its roots grow deeper and the vine wraps tighter.

Some fears are stronger than others. Sometimes fear quakes like a small tremor in our heart. It is a skipped heartbeat, or a held breath. Other times it is paralyzing. It grabs hold like a monster squeezing and tormenting the one in its grasp rendering her ineffective. Fear lays us out on the floor trembling, unable to move. We cower in the corner, hiding, shaking in fears shadow unable to move.

Fear. What are you afraid of? Maybe you are afraid of…

-Your past.

-A secret source of shame. Exposed.

-Disappointing people.

-What people think of you.

-Losing someone you love.

-Feeling hurt and pain.

-Abandonment by those you let close or deep into your heart.

-Vulnerability

Fears come packaged in all shapes and sizes. Your fears may be different than mine, but I imagine they still have the same effect to paralyze and bring you to your knees. Why is it that we fear things when we have a God who is all powerful? The very God that commanded the stars in their place and can calm the seas, loves us and holds us in His righteous right hand. And yet we fear. When we fear, in our mind we take His power away and place it somewhere else. Our fears are a displacement of power.

God is bigger than our biggest fears. The only thing we should fear is Him. We are to revere God for how powerful and mighty He is. When we fear something other than God, we are bowing down and worshiping it, giving it power that only God deserves. Nothing but God should bring us to our knees.

There is not a single thing that is too big for God to handle. He says:

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 Our God is our helpmate. The One who is strong in our weakness (Isa 40:29). He will fight our battles (Ex 14:14). We need only to reach out and hold fast to Him (Joshua 23:8).

Will we reach out and hold fast to our God and King who will conquer all our fears? Will we die to ourselves and stop worshiping our fears and allow only God to have power and authority over us?

Today, let’s get a conversation going about the power of God and the promises He makes to us when we are afraid. What verses do you cling to in times of fear?