Great, just what everyone wants to read about, a post about fear. But over the past couple of weeks, it's been the topic of many of both my internal and external discussions and my prayers.
I relish in the Merriam-Webster definition of it:
The part that catches my eye today is..."to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)." Ouch. It cuts right to the chase. It also calls out something that many of us avoid claiming when we have fear, which is expectations.
When we expect things we are essentially trying to plan our own future. Our fear settles in when reality starts to look very different than the expectation that we set for ourselves and that we put on others. As I spoke with a dear friend last night, he exclaimed that the next thing he believes that the Lord wants to pour out on him is joy. To which the Holy Spirit told me to let him know, that what he's sensing - that's truth! The Lord does want to give him joy, but the Spirit of the Lord also let me know and prompted me to tell him, it's not going to look the way he expects it to. He received it and it led to a great conversation about how we attempt to put expectations and limits on most everything we do, and even on what God desires for us.
When we do this we steal joy. We steal joy from the present moment and we allow fear to creep into our brains, our hearts and our spirit man (or woman). My soul has been continuously focused this past week or so, on removing fear from my thoughts. And I have failed terribly. And while I'm not hear to pity me or anyone else for failing, I'm hear to say, it's a serious battle. NOT one to be taken lightly. As Paul says to the Corinthians:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..." (2 Cor 10:3-5)
This is work. Work I (we) can't do without the Spirit's help. And as I see it, I step outside the Spirit more than I walk in step with it. How easily I'm distracted, how easily I quench it, how easily I believe the lies that in order to hear from the Lord, or stay in the Spirit I need to allow myself to be ushered into the Spirit. Lies that creep into our advice to friends and into the advice we receive from Christian friends. Have you been to church? Have you been praying? Have you been reading your bible? All well-intended, but I have been and do these things, and yet the battle rages. It's absurd, there's no formula, it's much simpler, but we make it hard. It's this simple, Jesus says:
"...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Did you catch that? He said ALWAYS! He's not waiting 'til you get into your prayer closet, he's not waiting at the bus stop, he's not waiting 'til you open your bible, and he's not sitting patiently at church waiting for you to come in and take your seat. He's with you always. ALWAYS...ALWAYS...see what you're doing there, you're rushing past, re-read this. Believe me, re-read it!
After reminding myself of this, I found that I needed to take it one step further (and consistently need to do this), I am not able to just be satisfied with knowing that Jesus is right here with me, everywhere. Nor do I remember this truth. Prayerfully, someday I will be able to remember. But for now, I have to also re-frame my every thought. I have to, as my boss recently said, put on my faith goggles, but I also have make sure I have on my truth goggles. I have to re-talk to myself, I have to replay scenarios that I'm worrying about over in my head 'til I boil them down to the truth. This seems like it should be simple, but our brains, well at least my brain, does not do this simply. It does not hold onto truth. Truth seems to slip through my hands while untruths tend to hang on and stick to my brain, and infect my thoughts.
So it's important to remember this truth as well as I commence this daily battle. Jesus also said:
"...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)
Freedom. That's my prayer, for me and for you. Freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from expectations and more or MOST importantly, the ability to feel unspeakable JOY!