"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4
One of my prayers for this blog is that it will bring women closer together and closer to the Lord and I believe He is already beginning to answer that. After my last post there were two comments. One from a cousin close in age to me who loves the Lord with all of her heart and her comment was an encouragement to draw closer to the Lord. The other was from another cousin quite a bit younger then me and her's was an open and honest comment of where she is in her life. How wonderful!
My mother came from a family of fourteen brothers and sisters. I have so many cousins I really can't count them any more. I am the oldest cousin and I grew up close to several other cousins but then there are this vast number that I see once a year for a very brief time at our family reunions. We hug, we smile, we sometimes ask how are you, but that's about as deep as it goes. It's not that we don't care about each other, it's just that there are too many and just not enough time. I think somewhere in our lives that's how a lot of our relationships are--at the office, at our churches, sometimes even in our homes. Maybe here, in this blog, we can settle for a moment and speak truth about our lives and learn to care about the worlds that each of us is living in at this moment in time. I hope so.
When I read my younger cousin's post I thought, how brave of her to let me into her life in this way. I thought how brave some of her decisions were for the way she was leading her life and the steps of faith she has taken with the Lord in her marriage. It also made me reflect on just how much fear can paralyze our world and prevent us from receiving all of the blessings that God has for us. My cousin was honest in describing where fear had almost stopped her from doing the very things that God was going to bless her most in and then she shared that those very decisions to overcome fear had allowed her to see God at work in her life and His hand in her marriage. Reading things like that help me to reflect on my own life and helps me to seek out and "unearth" areas where fear may be paralyzing me today. How about you--are you ready for reflection? If so, let's seek Him together so that He can deliver us from those fears and move us onto the next blessing He has waiting!
Luci Swindoll says, "Each of us has something broken in our lives; a broken promise, a broken dream, a broken marriage, a broken heart...and we must decide how we're going to deal with our brokenness. We can wallow in self-pity or regret, accomplishing nothing and having no fun or joy in our circumstances; or we can determine with our will to take a few risks, get out of our comfort zone, and see what God will do to bring unexpected delight in our time of need."
If truth be known, I think most of us have experienced most of those areas of brokenness and yes, I think it's human nature to wallow for awhile. I think one of the other bi-products of brokenness can also be fear; fear of entering back into relationships, back into living our lives the way that God wants us to live--free of fear, abandoned of caution, totally sold-out to following Him. If I had allowed fear to conquer me after my divorce I never would have allowed God to bring my amazing husband into my life. I would have missed all of the joy that God had for me in that marriage for the past twenty-one years. I would have missed all of the amazing adventures God had planned for me as my husband and I have served Him. If I had stayed in that place where the world and other people tried so hard to break me, I never would have experienced God's miraculous healing!
Yet isn't it funny, even after living all of those places of joy and delight that the Lord accomplished in me and through me, I still recognize that I allow fear to creep right back when there is new territory to walk in my life. Maybe the question is not will we fear, but what will we do with that fear? We're human, God acknowledges that we are going to fear--there are ample scriptures that prove that--but He knows how fear can cripple us and even make us ill and so He provides the way out of fear. What are some of your favorite scriptures when you have experienced fear and what were your blessings when God overcame that fear?
Last December, right before my birthday, I decided that for all of the birthdays that I have left I will do something--no matter how small or trivial--that has caused me fear and that I would turn those fears over to the Lord and watch Him work. What a great birthday gift right? To see the hand of God in my life in such a special and personal way on the day we celebrate my birth. I prayed about it and it seemed to be ice skating. I have always loved watching the ice skaters in NYC going gracefully around the rink but I've always been the spectator; sitting just beyond the glass with a cup of warm hot chocolate. Observing life but too fearful to participate. So I announced my decision to try ice skating to my family (so I wouldn't back down), my husband and I drove into the city, some of my children and a granddaughter joined us for a wonderful meal and a beautiful birthday cake and then we proceeded to the rink. This may all sound silly to you, but believe me the fear was an enormous weight upon my chest as I strapped on the skates. It was a very cold December night but I was sweating from fear. I stood up from lacing the skates and my ankles collapsed. I knew right then that the old me would have said forget it, this is a really dumb idea and backed out of the whole thing. Instead, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me break free of the fear (I also asked Him to not allow me to break anything else!). My son took me by the arm and led me onto the rink. He, with great patience, encouraged my baby steps. He also encouraged me to relax--I never quite accomplished that, but I did make it all the way around what seemed like the biggest ice skating rink in the world. I did not fall, I did not break anything. I did break free of the fear of ice skating. I was a participant, not just an observer. The memory I will always treasure was not the one I expected. I thought the sweet memory would be of skating and feeling the freedom of gliding across the ice. The real memory was of my sweet son and I taking baby steps across that frozen rink. Just as I had encouraged him and held onto his little chubby hands oh so many years ago as he began to walk, he held onto my (little chubby) hand now and made sure I did not fall and hurt myself. Thank you God for this sweet memory and precious blessing that I almost let fear rob me of!
If there are places in your life that you are allowing fear to cripple you in, maybe now is the time to seek the Lord and allow Him to deliver you. If you do, please feel free to post your experiences so that it will be an encouragement to others who may read it!
"God specializes in things fresh and firsthand. His plans for you this year may outshine those of the past. He's prepared to fill your days with reasons to give Him praise." Joni Eareckson Tada