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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Loss, pain, loneliness, hopelessness, betrayal.

Tears.  Cries.

Desperate!

Been there.  Done that.  Did not like it!

When life—the things, the people, the needs—is out of control…when I can’t make things happen the way I want…when it goes on and on…when  there is much pain and little hope…desperation takes over.

Our friend King David understood.  Hear his cry of desperation in Psalm 142:

I cry aloud to the Lord;

    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.

I pour out before him my complaint;

    before him I tell my trouble….

Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;

    no one is concerned for me.

I have no refuge;

    no one cares for my life….

Listen to my cry,

    for I am in desperate need…

God welcomes our cries.  He knows life in this fallen world is difficult, painful, desperate.

When I am desperate, I eventually:

*Fall on my face before God, usually literally.

I pour out my desperation, I cry out to Him, I admit my hurt, my disappointment, my fear,  my frustration, my anger.  I tell him once again that my life is not the way I want it.

*Say “Thank You, Lord.”

Not for my desperation, but in my desperation.  Thus, acknowledging that I know and believe that He is God and He is good.

*Open my hands. 

Often that means literally making a fist—holding tight to my wants and desires, my hopes and fears, my pain and hopelessness—and then one by one prying my fingers open so God can take out what He wants and put in His very good for me.

*Rest in Him. 

Sometimes the release and relief are immediate.  Other times it takes time.  But the leaning into Him and experiencing His comfort and peace produce healing and hope and rest.

David recognized that only the Lord could free him from his desperate place:

I cry to you, Lord;

    I say, “You are my refuge,

    my portion in the land of the living.”

Set me free from my prison,

    that I may praise your name.

I can gain comfort and encouragement from family, friends, books, counselors….  But when I am desperate, there is truly only one place to find deliverance:  the God who loves me and promises to care for me.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all… (Psalm 34:17-19)

 

What about you?  Are you desperate yet?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Allegories are a mix for me.  Some I love, others seem so trite and contrived.

One of the long-lasting allegories that many—mostly women—read is Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  Based largely on a spiritual interpretation of Song of Solomon, it is the story of little Much-Afraid and her journey to join the Great Shepherd in the High Places of the Kingdom of Love.

I read it in high school, when I was a new believer.  It helped me to fall in love with Jesus.  In college I read it at a time of turmoil regarding my future, and Much-Afraid led me to a greater surrender than I had experienced before.

As my single adult years continued longer than I desired, God once again used this allegory, enabling me to trust that God knew what He was doing in my life.

The past few months have been emotionally stressful for our family. Lots of pain, ending in great loss.  Then suddenly a turn, filled with hope and restoration, but also with some painful realities.

My entire life with God has been a journey of learning that God’s way is better than mine.  The twists and turns of these days have challenged my peaceful surrender to that better way.

So reading Hind’s Feet has been just what I needed.

Each step of the way Much-Afraid learned a new truth.  Here are a few that spoke to me:

Acceptance with Joy—joyfully accepting whatever He sends my way.

Bearing with Love—living out love no matter what happens.

“What I do thou knowest not.”—I have no idea what work God is doing behind the scene.

“Am I not the Potter?”– Yes, He is, and He knows how to do truly beautiful work.

“Now shalt thou see what I will do.” –In God’s time, He will reveal what He is doing in me.

“God is not a man that He should lie.”—I can trust what He has said.  Even in pain and disappointment.

Sorrow and Suffering are needful companions to change me and to bring good from evil.

So once again I bow my head and my heart before Him, and I open my hands to Him, and I say,  “I trust You.  I know You love me.  You are committed to transforming me into the likeness of Jesus—a very challenging task.  Even as Your work in me is uncomfortable, You comfort me.  You have a perfect plan.  So I give you my way.  Take it.  Replace it with Your way for me.  Thank You, Lord, that You never give up on me.  You will accomplish Your plans for me.”

What about you?  Are your hands open to Him?

C2102 Judy Douglass

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One of the best things about Facebook is wonderful encouragement from my friends.  A week ago I was having a bit of a hard time with several things going on in my life.  So I asked my Facebook friends:  What are your favorite, most helpful verses on trusting or resting or releasing?

I received responses from around 35 people—wonderful life-giving words.  Here are a few of them to hopefully lift and encourage you as well:

Kari andAnita:  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:13,14)

Sara:  “… if our God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)

Carol: God has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down nor relax My hold on you–assuredly not!  (Hebrews 13:5b Amplified Bible)

Kar-Lei and Carmelita:  “My help comes from the Lord,who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber….The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand….The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)

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

Naty:  “The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

Jeanie:   Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your soul.”  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Joy:  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Nelly:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Roman 8:28)

Catherine:  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Zillah: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.  O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him there is no want.  The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing. (Psalm 34:4-10)

And one of my all-time favorites:

“…so do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

So, if worry and fear have trapped you, if you are weary in the battle, if you are struggling to trust God in a situation, may these words from our God strengthen, encourage and refresh you.

What about you?  What Scripture has God used to give you peace and hope?

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All In

Head of a Warrior by DaVinci

“I’m with you heart and soul.”

The soldiers of Israel are hiding from the Philistines.

Jonathan, son of King Saul, felt God could rescue them “by many or by few.”  So he said to his armor bearer, “Let’s  go over to the Philistines and see what God will do.”

Crazy.  Wild.  Insane.  Two against thousands.

Surely this young armor bearer—not soldier, armor bearer—thought, Tonight I die.

He might have wanted to say, “Jonathan, you go right ahead.  I think I will stay here in hiding.”

But he didn’t have that option—he had to do what his leader said.

Apparently that didn’t enter his mind.  His response: “Do it!  Go ahead! I’m all in.  I am with you heart and soul.”

Heart and soul.

He would risk it all.  Face danger. Confront the enemy.  Die even.

The result?  Jonathan and his brave partner killed about 20 Philistines—they knew God was with them.

And the other thousands?  They panicked and fled.  Saul rallied his troops and took off after them.  It was a rout.

Wow!

Wonder where I would have been?  Hiding with the fearful or charging heart and soul with the Lord?

And you?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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How many Twitter followers do you have?  How many do you follow?

Jesus used the word “follow” repeatedly.  Did He mean the same thing as following on Twitter when He called his disciples to “follow me”:

To Simon, James and John:  “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10,11)

To Levi (Matthew):  “’Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:27-28)

To His disciples:  “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)

Leave everything?  Deny themselves?  I think Jesus meant a little more than a Twitter follow.  Here are some definitions and synonyms for “follow”:

To followto go or come after; move behind in the same direction; to accept as a guide or leader; accept the authority of or give allegiance to;  to conform to, comply with; to obey; to imitate or copy

When Jesus said “follow me,” he called his disciples—and us—to “do as I say and do as I do.”

So what did Jesus say it looks like to follow Him?  Some pretty challenging things:

Love others by laying down your life for them.  (John 15:12-13)

Don’t worry.  Trust Me.  (Matthew 6:25-34)

Don’t be afraid.  (Matthew 5:36)

Give up your life for my sake.  (Mark 8:35)

Turn the other cheek; go the extra mile. (Matthew 5:38-41)

Be completely humble and gentle.  (Ephesians 4:2)

Be holy as I am holy.  (1 Peter 1:14-16)

So the question begs to be asked:  How are you doing?  Are you a true follower of Jesus?  Doing these things Jesus mentions don’t make you a true follower.  Rather, the reality of following Jesus will cause them to become more and more true in your life.

I know reading these words from Jesus Himself causes me to stop, to evaluate, to repent, to thank God for grace and mercy, to ask Him to keeping working in me so that I increasingly become such a true follower!

And you?

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What are you afraid of?

Bethany Hamilton surely had some fear of crashing waves and flying boards.  Of smashing into rocks.  Of failing to compete well.  Maybe even of planes falling from the sky on the way to a competition.

But sharks?  Sure, there are sharks in the ocean.  And occasionally they go after a surfer, but hardly ever.  Surely it wouldn’t happen to her.

But it did.  And that shark took her arm.  Almost her life.  And certainly her surfing career.

Bethany, though, is an exceptional young woman.  A fighter: “I don’t need easy.  I just need possible.”  She has not only recovered, but is surfing again.

The movie Soul Surfer tells her amazing story of recovery, family, faith and determination.  Many have called it “one of the most inspirational movies I’ve ever seen.”

Probably most of us won’t have a movie made of a defining event in our lives, but we do have opportunities every day to face our fears and live with courage and determination.

What am I afraid of?  Heights and falling seem to top the list of the everyday fears.   Being accepted is still there, though less so as time goes on.  Health issues loom for the less-distant future now.  The biggest fear?  Safety and right choices for those I love, especially my children and grandchildren.

But Jesus has a word for me and for you, expressed here and in many other admonitions to us:

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)

Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Would I have the courage to overcome as Bethany did?    I don’t know, but I hope so.  For I have living in me the God of the universe who tells me over and over, ”Don’t be afraid.  Be strong and courageous.  I will give you all you need when you need it.  And I will always be with you.”

What are you afraid of?

C2011 Judy Douglass

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This is another in a series of letters to those who have prodigals in their lives.  This is part 3 of the REST theme for this year’s Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals on June 2.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

Sin is exhausting.

Yes, your prodigal is probably exhausted from all his/her sinning.  But I’m talking about my sin, your sin.

As we struggle through this journey, almost anyone would grant us grace for occasionally raising our voices, responding in anger, saying stupid things, making wussy decisions or coming down too hard.

Sometimes we sin in those responses, and that can weary us. And yes, God gives grace.

Other potential sins go deeper:

Fear.  Fear for the safety, future, life of our loved one.  Fear that nothing will work, he will never change.  Fear that we will have to live with this pain for the rest of our lives.

Anger. Anger at her for making these terrible choices and not thinking.  Anger at ourselves for not doing a better of job of influencing, teaching, loving (at least, that’s what we think).  Anger at God for letting this happen to us.

Not trusting God. How can I believe He is in control.  That He loves me and my prodigal when He allows all this pain.  That He can bring good from this mess.

God says it is sin when we continue to live this way day after day, and this sin will truly exhaust us.  It will drain the energy right out of us.

But God also says we don’t have to live this way.  He offers mercy, grace and REST.

David wrote in Psalm 32 some wonderful words of hope and rest:

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no   deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

And God tells us that there is rest in repentance:“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength… (Isaiah 30:15)

I strongly encourage each of us to spend some time meditating on all of Psalms 32 and 51.  We can let God speak to our hearts, point out any sin we need to deal with, repent and receive, not only mercy and forgiveness, but REST. Then we can enter with strength into the prayer battle ahead of us.

And our loved prodigals.  Pray the same things for them.  Their sins may be different—more blatant–but they are equally exhausting.  The possibilities of their returning to their senses, to you and most of all to God are much better when they find rest.

__________

Already new people are coming into our community, seeking prayer for their loved ones as we prepare for the June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  Come to Prayer for Prodigals and pray for them, and let us know how God is working in your situation.

If you know of others who would want to join us, please have them write to us at Prayer for Prodigals for an invitation into our community and to participate in the June 2 Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

Peace and rest,  Judy

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I have the privilege of being in a prayer community of people who love prodigals.  They have or have had loved ones who wandered far from God–and them, usually–and they pray for each other.  Periodically I get to write a letter to encourage all of us.  Perhaps you or someone you know needs such encouragement.  So here is my most recent Letter to Lovers of Prodigals.


Dear Lover of Prodigals,

 
Hope.  Newness.  Resolutions.  Promise fulfilled.  Past forgiven.

 
A new year lifts us up, shaking off the remnants of last year’s mistakes, opening a panorama of a better future.  We love to leave the hurts and failures of yesterday, believing that tomorrow is filled with sunshine and promise.

 
Except, when you love a prodigal.  Too often fears win out.  You hope, but you dare not “get your hopes up.”  You dream, hoping it doesn’t once again become a nightmare.  You believe, but always with clouds of doubt blocking the brightness you desire.

 
We have had some wonderful stories of hope fulfilled and dreams coming true among those we have loved and prayed for this past year.  We are so grateful, and praise fills our hearts and our mouths.

 
We have also had disappointments, bad choices, painful separations, even tragedies.  Hopefully even in those we can say, “Thank You, Lord.”

 
Because we have faithful Father, a compassionate Savior and a powerful Holy Spirit.  And the assurance that all the promises of God are “Yes!” in Jesus.

 
Can we have hope for the new year?  Assuredly so!  Will all our desires and dreams come to pass?  Assuredly no.  Will our prodigals break our hearts again.  Likely so.  Will we make mistakes as we seek to restore and reconcile?  Without a doubt.

 
The only certainty we have is in God.

 
He knows:  He knows your plans, your prayers for next year.  He knows the choices your loved one will make.  He knows His grand plan and how all this works together.

 
He cares:  He looks at them and at us with tender tears.  He feels the rejection, the loss, the torment, the disappointment.  He stays with us through it all.

 
He is able:  He is not a God who wishes He could help.  He can.  He is El Shaddai, the Almighty.  He rules heaven and earth.  And our lives.  He said that NOTHING is impossible for Him.

 
So my challenge to you, to myself, is to make God Himself the object of my new year hopes and dreams.  To seek Him above all.  To entrust my prodigal and myself into His loving and able care.  To surrender my plans, to believe His very good intentions, to trust His Spirit to give me everything I need with my loved one in the coming year.

 
May His grace flow over you.

 
Judy

 


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I love to start fires in hearts and minds, to ignite passion and excite compassion.  To open eyes and ears to what God is doing and saying.  To light fires under God’s children for reaching the lost and caring for the oppressed and opening doors for His daughters.

That’s why I began writing “Kindling” in January 2010.  In almost 12 months of life, Kindling has carried 72 posts.  They fall into categories like Becoming Kindling, True Followers and On My Knees.

Here are the top 10 posts—based on number of views, or number of comments, or my personal favorites.  Just click on the link for each one and fan the flames.

1.    Perspective at Any Season—my son’s encounter with a chain saw

 

2.    Are You a Dangerous Woman?— The Dangerous Woman Creed by Lynn Hybels

 

3.     My Lunch…My Life—a boy gave his lunch to Jesus

 

4.     The Circle of Life—in our families and in God’s family

 

5.    I Need My Space!—living with the time and space invaders in our lives

 

6.     Even the Camels—“Obil was over the camels.”  What is your calling?

 

7.     The End, The Beginning—the bittersweetness of endings and beginnings

 

8.     TALKing with God—having an honest conversation with God

 

9.     Nothing—like a newborn baby, we are totally dependent

 

10.     No Shrinking Back—what fears hold you back?

 

I always love to hear from you–please feel free to respond to any of these fireseeds.

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My grandboy Ethan is afraid of my horse.

 

It is a stuffed horse.  About 4 feet long and 2 feet high.  It’s floppy legs spread out and it lies on the floor.  Ethan’s older brothers love to ride on him.

 

But Ethan, a happy, engaging boy, shrinks back if you bring the horse near him.  He will neigh like a horse, but he won’t get near this one.

 

When you shrink back in fear, what is usually the best response?  To face your fear, to push beyond what you don’t like or understand, and to engage reality.

 

So I took Ethan to ride on a real horse.  He loved it!  Squeals—not of fear, but of joy!  And the fake horse?  No more shrinking back.

 

When do you shrink back?  What are you afraid of?

 

I’m afraid of heights.  Of dangerous activities that my children and grandkids love to pursue. Of grandboy Carter climbing to the highest point of everything.   Of things that threaten life or limb.  So I usually don’t do them, and I pray a lot when my family does.  But occasionally I don’t shrink back, I face my fear and engage reality.  And usually I love it—like the whitewater rapids in the Arkansas River.

 

Sometimes my fears are of more intangible things:  Being rejected.  Failing.  Proving unworthy.  Disappointing people.  Demonstrating my inadequacy.  And guess what—that is often what God calls me (you) into:  the risky, the scary, the unknown.  And He says, “Don’t shrink back.”

 

Scripture has strong admonitions to us on shrinking back:  “’But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’  But we do not belong to those who shrink back…, but to those who have faith…” (Hebrews 10:38-39)

 

So, in the power of the Spirit, I face my fears, step out, take the leap of faith, engage the opportunity.  Though I may not shrink back, the fear and trembling are often real.  But so can be the squeals—of joy—as God comes through and holds me and enables me to do all He is calling me to do.

 

No shrinking back.

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