Posts Tagged ‘fear

06
Feb
14

Courage: I Can’t Do This Without You

We have huge opportunities in our neighborhood, in our community. But honestly sometimes I’m a little afraid. I’m nervous that I won’t do things right, that I will zone out when someone is telling me something important, that I will be confused and won’t have any idea what I’m supposed to do. And yet, God is opening doors and placing opportunities to go outside my comfort zone and offer myself. To show up. Are we willing to step beyond our little spaces and offer a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty? (Matthew 10)

I like the thought of helping people. I like the thought of volunteering and being useful, but for me the actual doing it is the hard part. Finding the courage to step out and maybe not do things the right way, admit my lack of common sense, admit that I have a directionally challenged brain and just be willing to do what is needed and to be able to a laugh out loud at my limitations and see what God can do with them is still hard for me. But it’s really not about me or my fear, my pain, my insecurities. But what I’m learning is to show up with open hands and an open heart and see what God can do with them.

Some of us from Trinity volunteered a couple of weeks ago to help in our local school with a vision and hearing screening. We had no idea what we would be doing going in there, and I have to admit I was nervous. I talked with one of our church people when we were at the school, and she admitted she had been nervous too, and that after she originally signed up, she thought, “What in the world am I doing?” But she showed up anyway, and she did her job well. Her courage amazed me…she’s 79.

The task that I was given for the screening is one of the things I’m no good at; I had to pay attention to what I was being told and then go find different classrooms. My brain does not work at all with directions and finding stuff. I totally freeze up and cannot even pay attention to what I’m being told. But I honestly did the best I could, and I walked around and around and up and down halls and eventually found what I was looking for. It was good for me to have to try to find my way around; it was good for me to be uncomfortable. It was good for me to have to walk around the building and “own” it.

During church last week, we talked about several more opportunities to volunteer and help in our local school, and a friend came up to me and said that she wanted to do things like that, but she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to do what was asked of her. And this is what I told her…I’m scared too. But what if we do this thing together? What if we face our fears and “kumbaya” it together? There’s not only huge encouragement in it being more than just myself, but there can be real community in serving together, knowing that we’re not left alone with our fears and insecurities, knowing that the people around us are facing the same fear, different situations maybe, but the same paralyzing fear to see beyond ourselves to the world around us and to actually show up in this life we’re called to live.

We’re really in this thing together. Matthew 18: 20 says, “When two or three are gathering in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus sent His disciples out in groups of two. And it’s pretty amazing when believers are gathered the things that God can accomplish through them. He works individually as well. No doubt about that. But the sense of togetherness, the courage that God can build in a community of people who are focused on Him can be pretty amazing. The energy, the strength, not to mention the excitement of being involved in something that is bigger than ourselves and not for our own glory but for His glory is just a downright “jumping up and down for joy” kind of thing.

Paul and Silas, beaten and thrown into jail, prayed and sang praises together at midnight. The result: the jailer and his family came to know Jesus. Together. There’s something about doing stuff with other people that gives us a boost of courage. A “we’re not in this alone” kind of thing.  We’re serving Jesus together. If I fall down, there’s going to be someone there to help me get back up. I don’t have to do this stuff alone.There will be someone to sing praises with to God.

Even when Jesus went back to heaven, He told His disciples that He was not going to leave them alone. He told them that He was going  to send a Comforter who would be with them always…the Holy Spirit within them, within us to give us courage to be bold and do the things that we cannot do alone, on our own. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2)  But it still takes courage to take the first step and the many steps thereafter. But we don’t have to do it alone.

So whether it’s just me and the Holy Spirit or a whole bunch of people and the Holy Spirit, God can do this thing that He’s called us to do. It’s His kingdom. He’s in charge, and I may not know the specifics of what I am supposed to be doing all the time, but I know this: God has called me to this life, and He’s called me to give this life away for Him, and this absolutely begins in my home and with my family. He may be calling me to other things as well, but it starts with the people closest to me and works its way out. Jesus says in Matthew 5 that we are to let our light shine, so the good works (you know, the ones that God created that we just have to walk in) point people to God and bring Him glory.

I don’t have a lot of courage. I don’t particularly love doing new things. But I know God can do this thing through me (whatever the thing is He’s calling me to do at the time), and it’s even more exciting to see when He does it through others. And then, when we all join hands and hearts and do it together, I almost come out of my skin with joy.

Courage bleeds neediness.

Courage sees hope in dark places.

Courage leans heavy on Jesus and moves in the middle of fear. –Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways, 136

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01
Nov
13

all too human

Worried…Restless…Dark…Doubt…Insecure…Fearful…Negative…Unlovely

Peace…Rest…Light…Trust…Safety…Love…Hope…Joy…Beloved…Lovely

Which list do I really want? Jesus says to those who are burdened to “Come, follow…” He says His burden is light. But I think some days I’d just rather go my own way than have to follow, than have to listen, even if His way promises peace. Sometimes I think I actually like the craziness of the first list. At any rate, I seem to be more familiar with it. It has a certain appeal, a certain drama to it. And some days, I just seem to be stuck in it.

On those days, when my crazy emotions and wild feelings are all over the place, I tend to want to dwell on the negative, the unlovely. I opt for the roller coaster ride of feelings. So, how do I get off once the ride has started?

There’s no how to. He speaks, and I know what He wants of me, but lately I can barely hear His voice. I know what my particular issue is…I’m not grounded. I have to be grounded in Him, which for me requires a level of time and discipline, which everything in me fights against. I extremely dislike schedules and having things on my calendar and being told what to do. And I actually can’t do it of my own accord; there’s a certain surrender in all of it.

But I’ve realized that my relationship with Him is the most important thing of all things, and I have to be disciplined about time for allowing Him to speak. Otherwise, I get muddied and clouded and distracted. And that’s where I’ve kind of been.

For me, it’s about getting back into nature, realizing that there is a bigger world out there that we’re all a part of. It’s feeling the breeze and hearing birds and leaves blow and contending with wasps and lady bugs (which really smell when they’re touched). It’s seeing the clouds, and not from inside my house looking out. It’s being a part of the beauty He created. It’s reading and praying and singing out loud and receiving. It’s being cold and sometimes getting my feet wet.

There’s no magic formula; I just know it when it is. And I’ve been missing it, trying to recapture what was, but which I’m not surrendered to at the moment. I’ve gotten distracted, and I miss Him, His voice, His beauty. I’ve tried to capture the peace that He gives without having Him infiltrate every part of my being, without giving Him all the parts of me, especially my precious time. And it’s not working. I want the benefits without having to follow, without having to die.

I know well the restlessness and doubt that have come from listening to the wrong voices in my head, and that the only way those voices can be muted is hearing from Him alone. Not trying, not striving…just being.

Be still, my soul…

Our heart is restless until is rests in You. -St. Augustine

02
Mar
13

Knock, Knock! Who’s There?

When Moses received the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel were afraid to hear from God directly. They saw the smoking mountain, the thunder and lightning and stood far back even though Moses told them not to be afraid. God wanted to speak to them, but they were too afraid to hear what God had to say to them. “The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20)

In Deuteronomy 5, God said to Moses, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you.

Everything they have said is right. If only they had such a heart to fear Me and keep all My commands…’

Jesus says the same thing about the Pharisees in Matthew 15.

These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Something’s up with some of us who call ourselves believers in our culture. Because we don’t really seem to be following the Christ I see in the Bible. And I don’t really think Jesus is talking about following Him by going to church every time the doors are open or even giving money or bringing someone to church every once in a while. These are small, insignificant things that don’t amount to much according to Jesus’ standards.

The Pharisees were doing a whole lot more than this in the New Testament, and Jesus and John called them a bunch of snakes. He knew their hearts; He knew their lives. In Matthew 7, the ones that Jesus says He doesn’t know and are cast out are the ones who prophesied and drove out demons and did  miracles in His name. And Jesus responds to them  ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me…’ I think His ideas for following Him are much, much higher, starting with listening to Him and then obeying.

In our American church culture, lives don’t seem to be changed by the power of God or His Word. Jesus cannot be treated as an add-on, something used to make lives easier, more comfortable, more enjoyable.  He is not here to fix us but to change us into a new creation, which is painful, and I don’t think people really want that Jesus. Following Him requires time and commitment and love, and we don’t seem to be in abundance of any of those things. The Israelites were afraid, but in our culture we’re not afraid; we’re just too busy, distracted, disobedient, self-centered and indifferent to follow Him. He talks about people like us in Mark 4. We’re the people represented by the seed sown among the thorny soil.

...these are the ones who hear the word, but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

And the unfruitful ones? What happens to them at the end of the age? They’re thrown out and destroyed. Even the ones who did all kinds of things in His name didn’t make the cut. Because Jesus said that you will know those who are His by their fruit.

So what do we do with this? How do we know if we are His and are producing good fruit, fruit that Jesus will recognize? In I John, disciples of Jesus are the ones who love Him, and you see the love they have for Him because they are keeping His commands (not man’s laws or standards, but God’s commands). We begin by loving the people around us.

Some say all the right words and do all the right things but  don’t really know Him, and He doesn’t know them. But there is hope; it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. He’s given us Himself and His Word. And as John and Jesus both said, Repent (turn from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit) and believe; become a true follower of His by listening to Him and by following His commands.

Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and evil (repent), humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save you. (believe)

Although the road is narrow, and there are not many who choose to take that road, it is the way of life and truth and real meaning. But His way is also the way of the cross and death: death to self, death to the ways of the world, death to comfortable, safe lives. Jesus says, If you lose your life for my sake, then you will find it. But if you try to hang on to your life, that’s when you lose everything. There’s no middle ground here, no straddling the fence.

You’re either in the process of working out your own salvation with fear and trembling, or you’re not. (Philippians 2:12)  We’re all busy following something, someone. And we intently listen to the people we’re following; we follow them on Twitter, on Facebook, on any other social media we can get our hands on. But are you a true believer and follower of Jesus, or have you deceived yourself and don’t know His power or His Word? Are you following Him by listening to His Spirit, by reading His Word? And not books that people have written about Him. Jesus told the Sadducees, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

He loves us so much, not only in how He sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to us,  but also in how He reveals Himself to us moment by moment as we open our hearts, hands and lives to receive Him.  We don’t want to be like the children of Israel who when God wanted to speak to them, they refused to come and listen but rather had someone else (Moses) tell them what God had said. We are deceived when we think we need someone to interpret God and the Bible for us, whether it’s a pastor, a Bible study teacher or Christian author.

The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true… (I John 2)

We have the Creator of the world who longs to speak with us through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. We don’t go to the Bible to find more facts or knowledge or because we’re guilted into it. We go to the Bible so that He would reveal Himself to us in all His beauty and majesty and righteousness. We go to the Bible in order to follow Him in obedience and love.

Pray that He would give us wisdom and discernment and that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened. Pray for ears and hearts to listen to and long for what He is saying. Psalm 40:6 says, You open my ears to listen. And pray for the courage to follow Him in obedience to His Word and Spirit. He’s looking for followers. He’s looking for people who will listen and obey. It’s just that simple. The true worshipers worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

According to Hebrews 12, we no longer have to go to the smoking mountain like the children of Israel did. And God is no longer in the darkness. “Instead you have come to the city of the living God…to Jesus. Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks…”

31
Oct
12

Truth, Lies and Community

Last Friday, I wrote the first part of “Truth and Lies,” not realizing then that all of the lies had not yet been exposed. After I had finished writing, Jeff read my post, hugged me and said, “I had no idea you were struggling today.” And then I realized the other lie I had believed. I had refused to let anyone walk with me in my struggle. I had refused to let anyone pray for me, even my husband.

I was proud. Because I really thought that I was more mature, that I should be beyond all the fear and doubt and insecurity I was feeling. But I’m not, and I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to have the appearance of being fine when I really wasn’t.

So the enemy pounded and pounded. And I walked away battered and bruised.

But I have this community around me that I need to share my struggles with and not after the fact. I need to be prayed for right then and there in the midst of my struggle. But I think I heard and believed the lie that if I reached out and asked, then I was being clingy and needy, and so I did run to the Father, which was the right thing to do because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” But I still needed the people around me to lift me up to Him. Because I also needed to know that I am not in this thing alone.

So I’m learning this interdependence, which can only happen in community, and this is hard because our culture teaches us from a young age to be independent and self-reliant, and that we don’t really need other people. We desperately want to look like we have it all together. But none of us do. So why do we isolate ourselves and allow the enemy this advantage?

For me, I don’t want to wear out my welcome…stay too long, talk too much. I don’t want to run the risk of being open and vulnerable and people turn it down or use it against me. I don’t want my heart to hurt because people don’t accept me for who I am.

But I have to take these risks. I have to be who Abba is creating me to be. And I have to trust that God’s grace will abound, even when the attacks and the wounds come. And they will.

But this is what I want. This is what I think God is calling me to. To live in real community where Jesus is the center, where the focus is not on me,  and the community is not there to make me feel better and affirm me. But we should be there to encourage each other, point each other to Christ (who can and does heal all things). We’re there to spur each other on to love and good works. And to focus on God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail for healing a girl who was demon possessed, they worshiped God together. They prayed and sang praises, and the prisoners listened. In this trial, God gave Paul and Silas each other to praise Him together, and the jailer and his household were saved.

But not only were the jailer’s family set free, the other prisoners listened…people are watching to see how believers are treating each other, how we love each other, how we worship God together in the midst of our difficulties and struggles. In Acts 2, “they ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.”

This kind of stuff happens in community. No doubt about it, we need each other, friends.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.(Ps. 34)

23
Sep
08

Does Jesus Care About A School?

When we moved from Alabama to Nashville last year, Jeff came to be the principal of Pioneer Christian Academy, the school he graduated from 20 years ago. Jeff never imagined being a principal of a school, and I certainly never imagined being married to a principal. But we knew that this is where Abba was sending us, and we saw Him part the Red Sea to get us here.

Pioneer is a school that has been around for 40 years on the Northside of Nashville near Goodlettsville, but not many in the community seem to know about it, and it’s a miracle if you can even find it. If you happen to stumble across it, it is one of those weird God-things, and funny thing is, there have been quite a few of those in the last year…I see Abba’s hand all over this place.

Pioneer’s legacy has been one of legalism all wrapped up in fear, from the sign in the principal’s office that said, “Be sure your sin will find you out,” to the faculty and students walking around on eggshells, fearful that they were going to cross over some very real imaginary line. The fear and condemnation have been thick, so much so that some alumni and former students refuse to even step foot on campus because they cannot stand what the school used to represent for them.

The school has really struggled and has been more or less coasting for the last 10 years. It’s hard to run a school in neutral. So Pioneer needed a jump start, and Jeff was coming to literally shift it out of neutral and turn it in another direction.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have a hard time dealing with change, and some people seem to like neutral. Some would rather have something stay unhealthy than to be a part of growth and change…change is very uncomfortable for me as well, but I’m learning it is a necessary part of being alive…otherwise life is lived in an unhealthy coma-like state.

And Pioneer is no exception. It has to grow and change, and Jeff sees a vision for it to be other than it is. So, Jeff talked about his vision for the school, but, instead of the school growing, it actually decreased in attendance. But the ones who left, teachers and students alike needed to go…no hard feelings or anything…just going a different direction.

Pioneer is a school that’s quickly growing a heart, among other things and only those who can see past surface things, like old carpet and Pepto-Bismol pink walls, will truly get it. But for those that do, it’s like an unexpected gift…it’s actually becoming a place where the students want to be, and that in itself says a whole lot.

This year, there are teachers teaching at the school because Abba brought them…that’s all there is to it. I look around and think, why in the world are these amazing people here? But maybe this thing is bigger than a school…maybe it’s about seeing Christ in each other, about embracing our diversity, and loving each other in the process.

But right now at Pioneer, finances are a serious issue, due to the lack of students. My faith is big in some areas, but finances have always thrown me for a loop. I have fear and doubt all mixed in with questioning whether Abba can really provide for a school or even if He wants to. So I’ve been asking the question does Jesus care about a small school on the Northside of Nashville?

I was at a Moms in Touch group the other morning where we pray for our school, the faculty, and our kids. And one of the other moms really believes that Abba is going to provide for the needs of the school. I told her that I had my doubts, and I asked her if she thought her faith was big enough for the both of us. She told me it takes the faith of a mustard seed, and I think that’s about all I’ve got right now…

I know it’s often thought tacky to talk about money…maybe it is…maybe it isn’t. But I don’t think Jesus thought it was, because He says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” And I tend to think this phrase also includes money or students or whatever the need is…I have a hard time asking for things…I hate it, really…I grew up thinking that asking for stuff was presumptuous, but clearly, that is my own issue… 

So, Jesus, I’m asking. I’m asking that a school that cannot get enough of You these days is able to remain open. I’m asking that You provide the money or the students or both so that these adults and little ones alike can see You, can experience Your power, can feel Your presence move and are mindful that You are the One doing it. Provide the daily bread or part the Jordan River…we’re like the Israelites standing on the shore in the middle of flooding season and see no way to cross on our own. Our strategizing and our planning are all in vain if You’re not in it. But I see You, and I know that You can provide what is necessary if this is Your will. I am already grateful for what You have done in us and through us and in our midst. Help us see You and experience You in a way that a school never has before. Help us be a light in our community that points people to You, Abba, because knowing You and experiencing You are what it’s all about, and the school is just a small part of it. But I’m here, and I’m asking because we need You more than anything…

I got one of those e-mail cards for my birthday, and at the end of the card, Eph 3:20 came across the screen…”God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine.” So, right now, in the middle of all my fear and all my doubt, I’m praying and hoping that Abba will provide the miracle that will keep the school’s doors open, that He will do the “far more than we can imagine.”

And, yes, I still have my doubts because humanly speaking it looks bad. But I know this for sure that Abba is bigger than my fear, bigger than my doubts, and really it’s not about me anyway…my faith or lack of faith. But I have a feeling that whatever happens, it’s going to be one of those things that when I finally see what’s really going on, I’m either going to be falling on my face in gratitude or dancing till my head pops off…

“Word of God speak,
Would you pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty.
To be still and know
That you’re in this place…
Word of God speak.”

www.pioneerchristianacademy.org

28
Jul
08

Do Not Be Afraid (part 1)

 

I’m a scaredy-cat. I think I’ve always been a scaredy-cat. That combined with a vivid imagination makes me wonder how I ever come out of my house.  One night I was walking in my driveway after dark, and I thought someone was creeping up on me from behind. I could see the shadow of someone on the shed in front of me. As I got closer, the shadow also got closer.  I jumped, and the creeping thing also jumped because as it turned out, it was my own shadow that practically made my heart beat out of my chest. But Abba, in His graciousness, is dealing with me about my fears.

 

Some of my fears are completely unwarranted but due to my wild imagination and watching too many movies, reality sometimes eludes me. Even though my brother is a policeman, one fear I’ve always had is being stopped by the police. So I’m usually pretty careful and don’t speed very often. However, I do routinely speed on one of the roads near my house. Thursday night, I was clocked doing 51 in a 30. Needless to say, I got my first speeding ticket, and it wasn’t as bad as I had always imagined. At the time of my speeding incident, I was playing the song “Do Not Be Afraid,” which later made me laugh at Abba’s timing. I’m not crazy about having to pay a fine, but it was worth it to finally face that fear and realize that my perceptions were far worse than the actual reality of the situation.

 

Some of my fears stem from being in new situations. Last week, my family and I went to a water park. Our library has a great reading program, and we got some free

tickets to Nashville Shores. Since I do not like new things or situations, and I’d never been to a water park before, I was out of my element, but I was determined I was going to ride the water slides. As I was standing on one of the platforms getting ready to go down one of the slides, I was picturing myself being in an inner tube at the speed of a roller coaster but without the safety features that roller coasters typically have, like being snugly strapped in and having wheels that are connected to a track. I could just imagine my body and my inner tube being pitched over the side of one of those slides. But I put on my brave face for Jonah, my second son, who was my only child who wanted to ride the water slides. The last thing I want to do is to transfer my fears to my kids, so even though I was scared, I rode anyway.

 

Towards the end of the day after Jonah and I had ridden many times, I encouraged my other boys to at least try one of the slides. I explained to Jesse and Jake that I was really afraid before I rode, but that it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and that it was actually a lot of fun.  And so they decided to take the plunge, including Jeremiah, my 3 year old. He actually laughed the whole way down. Julia, who is 5, got to the top of the slide and was almost sitting in the inner tube when she decided that water slides were just not for her…not this year anyway. We rode from then until the park closed. I even rode the Music City Racer that went face first. But even before I picked up my float and marched up the stairs, I had a debate with myself about safety and being out of my comfort zone. And when I got to the top of the platform, I was still thinking about leaving my float and slinking back down the way I came up. But I’m glad to say that I rode it anyway, and once again, it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be…I’m realizing that giving into my fears will make me miss out on a lot of things, and I’m not willing to let my fears paralyze me any longer.  

 

So, in all of this, I see that Abba is allowing me to face my fears one at a time. I just hope I don’t have to personally walk through each scenario to allow Him to conquer them all. But even if I do, knowing that He is there with me makes the way a little easier. And once again “The voice of truth says, ‘Do not be afraid.’”

 

24
Apr
08

Freedom

 

 

I’ve always rebelled against rules, maybe not always outwardly, but definitely inwardly, especially the kind of rules that don’t make any sense.  I grew up with a lot of rules and then I went to a college that inflicted even more than I grew up with…that was quite shocking…to be a young adult but treated once again like a 5 year old, being told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to clean my room, what to wear, and the list goes on for pages, a whole handbook or so. I became hardened and bitter, and I learned how to play the system. It seems like people who are under a rule system want everyone else to be under the same set of rules, because that’s where the power is. If you can convince a bunch of people to live under the rules that you have established and to be fearful of all things outside that system, then you can keep everyone in line…mostly. 

 

I’m not much for hierarchy…I think I’ve become too post-modern for that…at least that’s what Jeff tells me.  I dislike systems and institutions where the people “in charge” impose a bunch of rules they have made up. I think Jesus might have disliked these kinds of hierarchies too…maybe that’s why He picked a bunch of ragamuffin losers to be His disciples. In Matthew 23:4, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and scribes, who were the religious leaders of the day, who “bind heavy burdens hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.” They had their own set of rules…they didn’t need Jesus.

 

Rules typically do just the opposite of what they’re meant to do. The law actually makes a person want to sin more, and that’s when our need for Christ is exposed. The passage in I Cor.15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” The next verse goes on to say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice it doesn’t say we have victory by following more rules; rules don’t give life…Jesus does. Rules kill relationships because the rules become the focus, and someone other than God becomes the judge.

 

When I was in these kind of systems, the rules in no way made me want to follow Jesus because that’s not what rules do; they instead made me focus on how good I was at keeping the rules or how far I could go without getting caught, but fear was always involved either way.  Back in those days, I didn’t even know Jesus all that well…I didn’t have to. If I did and said the right things, Jesus didn’t have to be a factor.

 

When we moved to Alabama almost 7 years ago, we didn’t know anyone there.  For the first time in my life, I was under no rule system. There was no institution to rebel against. There was nothing to prove. There was no one telling me how to live. It was freeing, but it was also scary…no boundaries as such. I’d always been told how to live, what to do, and now I had to listen to Abba’s voice and really allow Him to rule my life.  Ever since then, Abba in his graciousness gives me a song for each difficult time in my life. At that time, my song was “Painting Pictures of Egypt” by Sara G.  As I drove to school to teach each morning, I would play it as loudly as I could (I’ve busted out a couple of speakers this way) and would sing at the top of my lungs, while the tears would pour down my face…this was probably a little scary for my boys in the back of the van…they’ve since grown accustomed to my crazy outbursts.

 

“The past is so tangible, I know it by heart, familiar things are never easy to discard. I was longing for some freedom, but now I hesitate to go, I am caught between the promise and the things I know. I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt leaving out what it lacked. The future feels so hard and I want to go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”

 

I was losing whatever sense of self I had had up to that point, and I was crying out to Abba in the only way I knew how. He answered that cry. He had already ripped away everything I knew, set us down in the middle of nowhere, and made us realize we truly did need Him. Then, He led us to a church body where the people loved on us and accepted us for who we were; we didn’t have to pretend. They let us lick our wounds without standing in judgment of us. And there were no rules to keep or standards to follow…somehow these people had not gotten a copy of the handbook that I had lived under for 30 years. So, this was what freedom in Christ actually looked like…the freedom to truly love other people without strings and expectations attached.

 

So, we moved to Nashville this past summer. Nashville is where Jeff grew up, and there are all kind of expectations in that, especially when you have family around. People think you are a certain way, or they think you should be a certain way…hence the conflict I’m now finding within myself. Personally, I’m not worried about getting out of line. Out of experience, I know that Abba will correct…not punish… me when I go too far. I certainly don’t need some holier-than-thou person to be my Holy Spirit. Isn’t that what the Pharisees tried to be? And Jesus was constantly getting in their faces about it.

 

Right now, I know I’m not walking in freedom…I have it, I’m just not walking in it…I really want to walk in love and grace these days, but I find I’m being the prickly, unloving one, and I hate that. So am I back to focusing on people and the rules they make, instead of Christ? The enemy loves using anything that will take my eyes off of Christ…I really hate that.

 

I just got back from being in Tuscaloosa for a couple days, where I was loved on once again. The people there accept me for who I am, no matter what mess I sometimes bring to the table…I felt freedom and joy like I haven’t felt in a while.  Right now, I just want my sense of freedom back; I feel like it was swiped from me when I wasn’t looking…enter the prickly, angry person with the chip on her shoulder.  I think my focus lately has been on rebelling against people who I think are judging me instead of embracing Christ with my whole being and allowing His love to wash over me once again. I know He is the Way, the Truth, the Life…His life lived through me. The Truth shall set you free…yes, He already has…

 

 




time flies

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