Did You Hear Something?

Are you guarding something that matters to you?

Are you protecting something? A dream? An idea? A passion or God-given purpose?

Are you guarding something so fiercely that you might miss the invitation of God to join Him in the creating, the building, the revealing of something He intended for you to share with others?

Fear Not

(48/365 Days of Fear Not)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:8-11)

Sometimes, when God shows up and calls us to join Him, we are terrified, aren’t we?

Not terrified so much of God’s appearing, but of His bidding:You want me to do what? You want me to write that, say that, share that, create that, proclaim that?

Suddenly, the very thing that defines us in the depth of our being frightens us beyond measure. Even in the presence of God. Perhaps especially in the presence of God. Because we know what He wants. We know what He is about to ask of us.

And it scares us.

Because it’s one thing to birth and grow an idea; it’s another thing altogether to invite the world in to see our creation, our art, our soul, our heart – our baby.

But the message is clear: Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

No, our dream is not the Savior come to earth, but it may be the reflection of Him that someone needs to see, to hear, to experience. The reflection of His truth or His grace or His goodness or His love or His hope or His presence.

For us, the good news is that it’s time to release our gift, our creation, our baby into the world.

Because it won’t be any of those things – truth, grace, goodness, love, joy, hope – unless like the shepherds we faithfully follow Him and share with everyone what we alone were designed to create.

For if we refuse. If we choose to guard our dream, our idea, our calling, our purpose. If we choose to perfect it rather than release it.

What joy will others be deprived of?

What beauty will others miss?

What goodness will others not witness?

What hope will others not receive?

What opportunities will we forfeit?

When God shows up we don’t need to be afraid.

When God calls us to the good works He prepared for us to do, He will provide us the means and the strength to do them. He has created each of us for such a time as this: a time when He shows up and whispers that our time is here. Our time is now.

Walk boldly and confidently with Him and bring forth the good works, the Good News, that a desperate world longs to know.

So, what is God asking you to release into the world? What’s holding you back from letting it go?

Enough for Right Now

By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:17-21)

Fear Not(47/365 Days of Fear Not)

Change is a lot like darkness sometimes.

It’s difficult to see where I’m going.

I can’t see what comes next.

I know it won’t last; that I won’t be in this place of transition for an extended time. But it can feel like that, you know?

Facing change can be like being in a boat in the middle of the night when the winds pick up and the seas grow rough. I can feel out of control. And I can feel deeply, sorely afraid.

And sometimes, the presence of Jesus causes me even greater fear.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been in a place where the presence of Jesus in the midst of your life rocks your boat even more than the storm itself?

You’re afraid that He’s going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do.

You’re afraid that He’s going to send you somewhere you don’t want to go.

You’re afraid that He’s going to take away something you love: a dream, the vision you have for your life, a job, a passion, the status quo, the comfort of being stuck, your excuses.

You’re afraid that He’s going to step into your boat, into your life, into your right now, and take away all of the reasons you’ve created for what you’re doing or for what you’re not doing.

And you’re right to think so.

Because that’s exactly what He wants to do. But only if we’ll let Him. Only if I let Him.

I look up in the darkness and I see Him approaching me as I am tossed around by the storm of change and I’m frightened. Because He’s walking on the surface of the storm and though it swirls around Him, it affects Him not. Who is this Jesus? And what does He want?

I want to know, but He doesn’t say.

All He tells me when He comes near is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

It was enough for the disciples: they were willing to take Him into the boat.

But what about me? Is it enough for me?

The disciples were willing because they knew Him. They’d lived with Him and traveled with Him and broken bread with Him and seen Him in action doing miracles and loving the outcasts.

They knew Him and so they trusted Him. And because they trusted Him they were willing to take Him into their boat. And immediately their boat reached the shore where they were headed.

The idealist dreamer in me would like to think that that’s all there was to it. That they reached their goal and now they could kick back and take it easy.

But that’s not how it works, is it?

Once they hit the shore, they still had many miles to travel and much more work to do and even a whole lot more to learn from Jesus.

That’s where I am right now.

Things in my life are changing direction and I don’t know where they’re going. My dreams are shifting and changing shape and even priority in my life right now. And the details of my day-to-day that have been so familiar to me for so long need tweaking at the very least and, in some instances, complete overhauling.

I have a strong sneaking suspicion that Jesus wants to take my excuses and my doubts and that He wants to stretch the comfortable places inside my passion and purpose and God-given dreamscape so that I can create them anew with Him.

And I want to know what that’s going to look like. But all He’ll say right now is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

For today, it is.

In this moment I’m willing to take Jesus into my boat and let Him get me to the shore.

And as hard as it is, I’m willing to say that that’s enough for right now.

 

 

There’s Comfort in the Unknown

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:4-5)

Fear Not

(46/365 Days of Fear Not)

Without the challenges and trials of this life, I’m pretty sure that I would become far more self-reliant than I already tend to be. It’s in my nature and it’s the part of my nature that I have to die to every day.

I’m a yankee from New England. Add to that the fact that I have a strong streak of Irish stubbornness and with more than a trace of my parents’ blue-collar work ethic and I’m pretty much prone to be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for God to be my refuge, my strength or my dream builder.

Obviously, God knows this about me.

And so I’m thankful that He keeps me in check. I’m thankful that He reminds me how much I need Him.

He can do this with the God-given dreams and purpose that He plants in my heart.

He can do this with the unknowns of my circumstances.

He can do this with the upheaval of my marriage from its rut of ordinary.

And, He can do this with the recent diagnosis that my seven-year-old daughter has Level One Autism Spectrum Disorder (pretty much a diagnosis of Aspergers before they reframed the system of diagnosing Autism).

The learning curve of how to equip and empower my sweet girl is steep. And because of that, it can feel overwhelming.

For example, tonight I sat down to create a schedule of our day for tomorrow that includes only two main focus points that she needs related to this ASD as well as the Sensory Processing issues that she faces each day. As I looked at the notes on the page I found myself thinking, I have no idea how this is supposed to work.

But that isn’t a new thought for me and, honestly, I like the comfort of it, the comfort of not know how things are going to come together.

Really, I like the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to know how everything is supposed to work or how it’s going to work — dream building, my marriage, parenting, ASD diagnosis. Because this, this is where God steps in. This unknown is where God does more than I can possible ask or imagine or predict.

He knit her together in my womb. He created her. He designed her. He knows her gifts and talents and how amazing she is and will be.

And He knows the challenges she will face.

Right now, I know so little of any of that.

But, I know Him. He is my refuge and my strength. He is my dream builder and my miracle doer.

I know that I live in a broken and hurting world and that I am blessed with a purpose and a dream that can bring hope and healing to my small part of it. And I know that I am blessed to be the mama to two amazing little girls who will shine a light in this world in ways I have yet to even begin to realize.

But God knows.

He’s calling them just like He’s calling me.

I have the privilege of guiding them in discovering their gifts and their purpose.

And the most amazing part is that as I fulfill that part of my life and my calling as their mama and their dream shaper, I discover and uncover more of who God is calling me to be in this world.

Mostly, that involves being dependent on Him. Completely dependent on Him. Not self-reliant. Not self-sufficient.

Dependent. Because it is there, in my dependence on Him, that I am not afraid.

I sense His hand.

I trust His voice.

I lean on His understanding.

And I rejoice in the challenges and trials set before me because they draw me closer to Him.

Because His grace is sufficient for me, I will not be afraid.

Rather, I will strive to remain dependent.

Silence the Storm of Ordinary

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:37-40)

Fear Not

(45/365 Days of Fear Not)

There is a life to which I am drawn. One that I sense somewhere deep within me, within my soul. Sometimes, in the quiet of the night, when the house is silent and all is at rest, my spouse, my children, my worries, I see myself clearly.

I see the me that I am. The me that God designed me to be and to whom He is calling in the wee hours and the quiet.

Do you ever sense your true life?

That life for which your were knit together in your mother’s womb.

That life for which God planned many good works for you to do even before the beginning of you and your time here.

Sometimes I sense Jesus standing before me in my desperation and desire. This desire to be something more than ordinary. This desire to do something more than survive the days I’ve been given.

The storms of life threaten to overwhelm and I panic. I see Jesus sleeping calmly as this vessel in which I travel these oceans is pitched and swamped with the waves beyond my control and I shake Him awake. Don’t you care that I am about to drown in ordinary?

His response is as matter-of-fact for me as it was for His disciples that night on the Sea of Galilee: Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

I rationalize and hedge. I tell Him that it’s not that I don’t have any faith, but that the world, my circumstances, they cause me to falter, to doubt, to second guess. And to fear.

But even as He questions me, He stills the storm. Quiet and calm envelop me and it is there that I hear the whisper of my true self beckoning me to the life I’m meant to live.

The life of risk and of boldness and of absolute, radical faith. A life lived with seemingly reckless abandon with and for the One who gave me life.

The life of extraordinary.

It’s there.

Do you sense it?

There, in the midst of the chaos and the chores and the children and the noise and the fear.

There, in the midst of the storm there is Jesus. And with Him, there is peace.

But it requires faith.

Will you choose it?

That’s the question we all get to answer. Will we choose faith? Will we choose extraordinary?

It likely will be scary. It likely will be messy. It likely will be stormy.

But it will be worth every moment if it means discovering that wisp of vision that calls you forward.

Leave fear behind and discover the life for which God created you.

Faith Doesn’t Make Sense

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:49-50)

Fear Not

(44/365 days of Fear Not)

It’s one thing to say that God’s ways are not our ways and that God’s timing is perfect, but it’s another thing altogether to believe those ideas.

To trust them.

To hold on to them when life throws its worst at you.

But sometimes that’s exactly what faiths asks us to do.

And it’s what Jesus asks of us if we are going to follow Him and trust Him instead of the world.

Faith and fear cannot exist simultaneously in our conscious mind. We will either be afraid or we will trust God and take Him at His word. And, always, despite what reality tells us or what circumstances indicate or what others seem to know, faith is the better option.

Trusting Jesus is always the best option.

That’s what Jairus did, isn’t it?

Even though someone came from his house with the news that his daughter had died.

Even though someone had more information than Jairus did.

Even though someone told him to give up, that it was too late.

Jairus trusted.

Jairus believed.

And Jesus responded. He responded in the face of laughter and unbelief from those who thought they knew the truth. Those who thought they knew more than He did.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve responded that way. Responded toward Jesus as if He weren’t God and as if He didn’t know the future, my future.

I’ve questioned. I’ve doubted. I’ve been afraid.

But Jesus responded and He has always been faithful.

And His ways are not what I would do. Isn’t that good news?

And His timing is perfect. Though I usually don’t see that until much farther down the path.

Jairus believed.

He trusted even though everything said it didn’t make sense.

And, then, Jairus stood beside Jesus as He took the girl’s hand and told her to get up from the bed. Jairus received his daughter back. He received a miracle.

We don’t all get the kind of miracle that Jairus got, but God still offers us His faithfulness and His presence. He still invites us to trust Him and to stand beside Him as He works all the things in our life together for good because we love Him and we are called according to His purposes.

God sees you in your struggle. He sees the world telling you its version of reality and truth. He knows your doubt and your fear.

And He’s inviting you to trust Him.