Worthy of My Fear- Five Minute Friday

5-minute-friday-1 There is little in this world that is worthy of our fear.

Yet we hand it over with such ease… sometimes even begging something to claim it from us.

In movies, music, books… “horror” that appears safe in the confines of media, triggering our adrenaline flow. “Scare me!” we cry.

And then fiction becomes reality… the news broadcasts that our fears live in shadows, in alleys, peering in through your windows… waiting to steal your possessions, your money, your loved ones.

And we get security systems, dogs, video cameras, bars, and locks… creating a false sense of control over the darkness that is just waiting to take advantage of us… give us a thrill of fear beyond the boundary of literature and cinematic amusement.

And we hand it over.

Our ability to fear.

And it begins to debilitate us.

We begin to make decisions based on fear. Which streets to drive down. To cross the street when he walks by. To carry weapons. To live with weapons. So that when our turn comes, and the horror lifts from the pages, steps out of the screen, into our lives… we have a fighting chance.

Some people stop going outside altogether. Or flying in airplanes. Or driving in vehicles. They stop eating, start exercising, and take every possible supplement and vaccine to keep the cancer at bay, the heart-attack statistic further from us, or the next “in” disease from staking a claim on us.

As if we have it all under control.

Yet we are the controlled.

Only One is worthy of my fear. Has the right to cause me to be afraid.

His name is Yahweh. The God who Is. The God over all.

Who separated an entire body of water before the very eyes of two nations… split them, so the water made walls and dry land could be passed on.

Who caused the sun to stop moving and prolonged the day.

Who brought dead people back to life… the decaying man restored to health.

Who brought form from the formless, gave it life, and loved it.

Who enshrouded His very essence with flesh, came and lived among us, talked with us, healed us… died for us.

And didn’t stay dead.

To be the eyes and ears of any present for these signs and wonders.

To look out over a plagued Egypt… every body of water: rivers, lakes, ponds, wells, cisterns… puddles. Water turned to blood. To see large hail stones fall on and destroy the flocks, herds, structures of the Egyptians… and yet not hit one single of mine or any other Israelite.

To stand back and say, “Whoa. Truly this is the one true God… and He could smite me so fast…” and yet He doesn’t.

Because the fear He deserves is not the same we cry for in a horror film. We don’t tremble before Him, ever unknowing of our position, afraid His hammer will fall and we will be found out.

I would like to suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, “Fear not”; a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or a doctrine or theology, it is God’s burning presence in our lives. I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing–including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.

Our world is… longing to see people whose God is big and holy and frightening and gentle and tender… and ours; a God whose love frightens us into His strong and powerful arms where He longs to whisper those terrifying words, ‘I love you.’

-Mike Yaconelli

This is what makes my heart tremble and cry out… “Can it be? That You would love me?”

The only One worthy of my fear. Worthy of my reverence and respect for His authority, His sovereignty, His power… His self-control and restraint. His deeply pursuant love.

Because “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.,” and as I come to realize the perfect love my God has for me… there is nothing left to fear (1 John 4:18).

I will not be made afraid by anything else.

Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.

Isaiah 8:12-13

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 19:23

Again

5-minute-friday-1

*TMI Alert* 🙂

“Not again!” I hear the muffled voice of my three year-old daughter through the bathroom door.

“Ugh!”

She growls and screams and cries helplessly. I can’t even begin to imagine what is going on in there.

“Sweet girl, what’s going on?” I ask her.

A sad voice responds, “I keep trying to wipe my bottom but there’s no poop on the toilet paper.”

Oh wow.

She’s working so hard on wiping herself without help… and as much as she feels that she is doing the exact right thing… the evidence is telling her differently.

“Oh girly, come here!.”

She opens the door with tears in her eyes. Half dressed. Toilet paper in hand.

“Sweety… sometimes when you go poo… it comes out clean! It doesn’t always leave a mess on your booty. It’s not always going to show up on the toilet paper. You did a good job.” (Of course I checked to make sure this was the case.)

My mind flashed to the conversations I’d never thought I’d have… yes, this was one of those.

And isn’t that how life sometimes is?

We think we’ve mastered something, learned a hard lesson, persevered to the finish line… only to find ourselves back at the starting line. Sometimes the fear of “again” follows me like a creepy guy in the shadows… whispering sweet nothings… about how familiar this all looks to the time I… To fear new friendships because I might be rejected again. Or to fear stepping out to do something new because I might fail again. To find myself in a situation I thought I’d already conquered.

But ya know… sometimes the poop of life doesn’t have to leave a mess on our booties.

Sometimes we are doing exactly what we need to do… and it’s not our fault that things aren’t going the way we thought they would. Or should.

How grateful I am that there is a perspective on life much grander than my own eyes can see or my own imagination fathom. That what I see as being criticized again is really just another good opportunity to practice humility and grow in my character.

That I don’t have to be afraid of “again” because each one has its own purpose… and that purpose can be good.

If I let it.

If I’m willing to look up at my Daddy, clean TP in hand, and receive His grown-up wisdom on the things of life.

And the ways I sometimes misunderstand them. Misinterpret them. Judge them by appearances alone.

Again.

And it’s okay.

Because chances are again and again too…

Abide – Word Theme 2013

Abide003It’s still January so I’m not late.

I’ve been “sitting” on this word for a while… all month actually. Which is ironic, isn’t it? Well, even if you miss the irony… this word, abide, struck me softly but poignantly while sitting in church recently. Our pastor must have said it in the first couple minutes of his message… and it leapt at me.

This word.

Abide.

To wait for. To endure. To continue. To remain.

When the word first announced that it would be my theme word… I only understood it as “living within.”

I read these verses:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

John 15:4-5, 8-9

And wondered how I could abide in Christ. What does that mean? How do you live in Him?

I can come up with some great sounding Sunday-school answers.

And they might even be true.

But the Behavior Analyst that I am, I wanted to know more. The hows. The whys. The practicality of it all.

So I looked it up in Greek. Yep.

Meno (μένω) – to endure, continue, dwell, remain, stand.

Persistent loyalty of continuing in a thing.

So I read it again.

Endure, continue, dwell, remain, and stand in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever persists loyally in continuing in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Dwell in my love.

Reading it this way, something new struck me… as much as He calls me to “abide” in Him… He promises to “endure, continue, dwell, remain, stand, and persist loyally in continuing” with me too…

And perhaps the purpose of this as my 2013 theme word is not just about my learning yet to grow where I lack… but to accept His abiding power and promise in my own life.

So what does it all mean?

  • I can do nothing apart from Him.
  • Without His abiding power at work in my everything… my hard work and efforts will amount to nothing.
  • He is intentional in his loyalty to me as my Savior and Father. This loyalty is proactive and persistent. It will be known.
  • The love shared among the triune God is perfect, pure, and stronger than any force… and it is with that same love that He loves us.
  • I can make my “home” and dwelling within this love… which is not based on feeling or experience alone… but the perfect trust that comes from the security of knowing the power within which I reside.
  • My gratitude compels me to respond with this same kind of intense persistent loyalty to stick with Him… no matter through what I must endure.

Abiding is far more than crawling into a spiritual cave of coziness, nestled up among the fluffy comforters and pillows and warm-fuzzies and calling that home.

It is a commitment to follow the every movement of our Savior… when it’s cozy, when it’s not, when it’s familiar, when it’s foreign, when it’s terrifying, when it’s secure, when it’s logical, when it seems senseless… to be purposeful about staying within the shadow of His great wing as He spreads out His feathers and embraces the lost, the hopeless, the destitute, the unlovable, the dying, the incapacitated…

An unwavering promise to take up residence on the rocky shores of this commitment, come wind and rain and waves.

And yet, even when I miss a step, get distracted and fall behind, or trip on fear…

He abides in me.

He’s at my side, trudging through the mud of my off-road adventures, whacking at the weeds of my garden, walking the end of the line with me… lovingly committed to a persistent loyalty in remaining with me.

So here is to 2013!

(You can read what my 2012 Word Theme was here)