Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I fear.

I remember when Morgan Nick was kidnapped. It was just a couple hours away from my home. It happened on my 7th birthday. And she was only a year younger than me.  I knew what kidnapping was and my parents were always making sure I knew not to go with strangers, not to get out of their sight, etc. But I had never really thought about it... it was one of those things that, as a kid, I was aware of, but sounded very far off. But, when Morgan Nick was kidnapped, it was no longer far off. It was suddenly on my TV every single night. My teachers were talking to us about it and warning us about similar situations. My parents were now talking about strangers and staying in their sight even more than normal. And I was freaked out.

I remember every night as soon as my parents would tuck me in and leave the room, the anxiety would start. I would get the knots in my stomach. My heart would feel like it was going to pound out of my chest. I would clinch the top of my covers so tight and pull them up to my face. Every single noise I heard made my whole body jump and tremble. I would shut my eyes as tight as they would go and with tears streaming down my face, all I could do was pray.

I was a Christian. I knew that God was with me. And I knew that He commanded me to "fear not." But, I feared. I felt bad for fearing. I knew I shouldn't. I knew I didn't have to fear. But I did. And when I did, the only thing I could do was pray. I ran to him. I begged him to protect me and comfort me and make these scary thoughts go away.

Thankfully this horrifying fear didn't last too long. I got over it.

But I didn't stop fearing. There were other times throughout life that fear was so big.

I remember when I was 8 and found out we were moving to New Orleans where I would have to start a brand new school, make brand new friends, live in a brand new house. I was so scared.

I remember when I spilled boiling coffee all over my body when I was in 5th grade. I had no idea a person could feel pain like that. I had no idea what was going to happen to my body. I was so scared.

I remember when I was in 8th grade and three of my very best friends were moving away to other states. I was so scared of being lonely. 

I remember my first soccer game as a Wampus Cat. I was in 9th grade and I was a starter. I had never had so many people watching me and counting on me. I was scared.

I remember when my dad died and my mom and sister and I were left alone to figure out how to go on with life. I remember the feelings of never having him there, ever again. I was so scared. 

I remember when both of my grandpas had heart attacks at different times throughout my life. I remember going and standing and by their beds, looking at their pale faces and limp bodies. I was so scared of losing them. 

I remember the end of my senior year coming and having so many huge, life-altering decision to make about college, scholarships, career paths. I was so scared of choosing the wrong ones.

I remember when Marty first said he was "in this thing to marry me." I was terrfied.

I remember realizing I am now a wife with wife responsibilities and a husband to respect and submit to. I was so scared I would be bad at it.

I remember finding out we were pregnant. I remember the joy and excitement... and I remember the fear. I have no idea how to do this. What if I mess up? I was so scared.

I remember so many times similar to these throughout my life when fear would hit me so hard. I would be numb. I would have the anxious thoughts. I would feel sick at my stomach.

And every single time fear entered my life I found myself doing the same thing, the only thing I knew to do. Praying.

I would pray so hard and beg God to ease my nerves. To comfort me. To give me peace. To take away my anxious thoughts. To show me that it was going to be okay. And every single time, he did. He comforted me. He calmed my fears. He held my hand.

And it holds it today. In the midst of my fear, he is calming me. He is comforting me. 

I was thinking about this yesterday and I thought about the parody in this whole idea.

The same God who commands us not to fear is the one who comforts and calms us when we do fear. 

For a minute I just asked the question, "why?" If he commands us (in fact, the command to not fear is not just any command, it's the most frequently given command in the entire Bible) to not be afraid and not be anxious, then why is he so quick to hold us and comfort us when we do? And for me, when I so often do? 

For some that might seem like a contradiction. 
But it's not.
That's grace.

God commands us not to fear because he knows what we don't know. He has the power we don't have. He sees what we can not see. And because He knows, can do, and sees anything and everything, we have absolutely no reason in the world to fear. We can trust him completely in all things, with all things. And he wants us to trust him. 

But while God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he is also an understanding God. His understanding, no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28) And I believe with all my heart that God knows that it's scary to be us. He does not take lightly the scary things this life can bring and he does not take lightly the way those things make us feel, the thoughts they produce, the affects they have on our hearts. 

And when those things come, he does not want us to fight on our own, with our own strength, to make sure we do not fear. He's not sitting on the throne turning his head and looking down on us because we have fear.

He is a God of of judgement and righteousness.
But he's also a God of grace.

And in his grace, I believe he wants us to run straight to him, with our fears and anxieties, and he wants to hold us and comfort us and allow his presence to strengthen us. 

In Christ, do we have any legit reason to fear? No.

Will I still fear? Yes. All the time.

Does God know and understand that? I believe so.

Will he help me overcome those fears? Every single time. 

Don't be afraid to come to the throne of grace exactly as you are. Scared, dirty, sinful, alone, confused... just come. Come completely and come all the way and receive this grace that is so freely offered. 


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