What Fears Are Shaking You?

Standard

This snake and I surprised each other on a West Virginia trail!

My husband and I were enjoying the day in West Virginia with a hike. There were many sunny spots on the trail, but this one in particular stopped me in my tracks. The snake directly in front of me was enjoying the same day by soaking up the summer sun.

Of course, the snake was bigger in my mind’s eye than in reality. I am not embarrassed to admit that I have a fear of snakes. I know this because of my reaction. I didn’t scream or run in the opposite direction as I was taken by surprise. I simply froze in place and began to shake uncontrollably.

Rational thinking does not change my response nor eliminate my fear of snakes. I know that snakes exist in the mountains of West Virginia. I understand that most likely I will not encounter a snake. In over 25 years of visits and hikes in West Virginia, we have seen only a handful of snakes in their natural habitat. Despite the statistics, stepping on a snake is my number one fear when we hike. Fear doesn’t have to make sense.

For many years, I was not interested in hiking the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area of West Virginia. I can trace my reluctance back to a casual comment from my husband’s grandmother. In her younger days, Grams picked blueberries (huckleberries) in Dolly Sods and occasionally would see a rattlesnake or two. Since 2015, my husband and I have explored Dolly Sods with day hikes. It is now my favorite place to hike when we are back for the yearly family reunion. Fear affects my choices.

Snakes are not my only fear. As an empty nester in a later season of life, the unknown future can instill fear. Will our money run out in retirement? Will our health hold up? Fears are a part of life. Yet, we don’t have to be afraid of fear. Fear doesn’t have to control us.

Fear is real, but God is even more real as we recognize His presence and lean into His reassurance. Fear doesn’t have to define us. Fear doesn’t have to steal our joy.

Scripture shows us how to handle fear in our lives.

Seek God.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).

Trust God.

 When I am afraid, I will trust in you (Psalm 56:3).

 Live out your identity in God.

 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

And a personal reminder for me: Stand and not be shaken.

I have set the LORD always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).

 

Advertisements

The Evolution Of Prayer

Standard

I have noticed the evolution in my prayer life. It starts with a problem: an emotional hurt, a troubling physical symptom, or fear of the unknown. My first reaction in prayer is to wish the trouble away. “God, please remove this from my life.” Or in other words, I don’t want to deal with this.

When the trouble doesn’t go away, I pray for God to make it a non-issue. “God, please make it not a big deal in my life.” I ask God to take the trouble and make it simply an annoyance. My hope is that it becomes something I can ignore most of the time or even forget temporarily.

When the trouble becomes a big deal in my life, I ask God to use it for my good. “Lord, open my eyes to see the lessons that you have for me.” When I have to deal with an issue, the process in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s guidance more clearly defines my faith and refines my witness. Growth and maturity result as an answer to prayer.

I like to think that I am a fast learner. I can pick out specific lessons for trials in my life. The real problem is that I forget to apply the lessons and inevitably slide backwards. That’s when I pray, “God, may you use this for your glory!” Finally, I have reached the point where my prayers are not about me!

I desire God’s glory to be reflected through the circumstances of my life. God’s glory becomes personal as His peace settles over my mind and my heart. Oftentimes, the reason for the prayer remains the same, but I am changed. My problems feel smaller and my God feels closer as I exalt Him. God’s answer to my prayers was the evolution of power and intimacy in my relationship with Him: which is exactly what God desired for me and what I needed from Him all along!

Romans 8:28-29

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 

 

 

Love Is More Than Paper Hearts

Standard

Love is in the air; Valentine’s Day is almost here.  Let’s pause to examine what can hold us back from truly loving the people God places in our path.  Sometimes the reason is physical distance. There is some truth to the old adage, “Out of sight out of mind.”  Sometimes the reason is emotional distance.  We grow apart.  Sometimes the reason is time.  We are simply too busy to nurture that relationship. Sometimes the reason is unforgiveness. We are more interested in holding on to a grudge then holding on to the person. Perhaps sometimes the reason is that we don’t love ourselves enough.  We don’t think we are worthy of that person’s love.

The perfect Hallmark card, red roses and a candlelight dinner are all symbols of love for Valentine’s Day. For Christians, Jesus dying on the cross is the most relevant symbol of God’s love for us.  In Jesus, God reveals his sacrificial love that knows no bounds. In Jesus, God tenderly speaks to our hearts, “You are always worthy of my love.”  In Jesus, God demonstrates that every day is Valentine’s Day.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

1 John 4:19

 We love because he first loved us.