You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘religion’ tag.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
During last night’s church service, we talked about fear and how what we fear most represents the area of our lives where we are trusting God the least. This got me thinking about what it is that scares me the most. I’ve been afraid of many things in my life, but as different experiences have come to pass, there simply isn’t much left that really shakes me up. The thought of losing people whom I love still looms large on that list, but the biggest fear I have is of not meeting the expectations that God has for me as His child. Every day I find areas where I’m still falling short of what I believe He would want me to do or how He would want me to act, but for some reason I seem to be refusing to fix those areas. Not out of any sense of malice toward God; more out of a sense of not feeling good enough to continue down His path. I think everyone struggles with something at one time or another, but really, should we still be harboring issues of low self-esteem if we truly believe that God loves us? Isn’t His love better than any other love we can find here on earth? If so, and if we know He loves us through our shortcomings, then why do we still feel so undeserving?
I feel compelled to answer that last question by saying we feel undeserving because we are told so often as Christians that we don’t deserve the sacrifice that God made for us by allowing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Somehow, we are supposed to come to an understanding that His love is unconditional while at the same time understanding that we didn’t deserve the biggest, most significant display of His love for us which was intended to be a gift. It doesn’t really make sense, but I guess, maybe it isn’t supposed to fit into our very small, very human idea of what true love really is. It’s like He said, I’m going to do this for you to show you I love you, but you really don’t deserve it…which should reinforce just how much I truly do love you. In anyone else, that might seem rather abusive, but in our God it just gives us one more example of how little we understand Him.
God doesn’t want us to spend our lives dwelling on how much we can do to deserve His love. When we do this, we inevitably do either too little to meet the mark or too much of what isn’t necessary. We overdo the works and lay off of the faith. Or we lean too heavily on faith and grace and forget to do anything worthwhile. With God, it’s about achieving a balance of wanting to know Him, needing to know Him and at the same time, trying desperately to know Him so that we can have an inkling of who we really are. There is a part of Him in all of us and until we come to terms with who God is to us, we cannot love what He loves about us. That’s the great mystery. And if we are ever to solve it, our focus cannot be forever turned inward, looking at who we should be, who we shouldn’t be, who we have been and who we hope to be. It has to be on who He is in us.
So, when He says to us, “Whom shall I fear?” our answer should be no one because if God lives in each one of us, then we need to learn how to first see Him in ourselves and then try our best to find out how He is working in the lives of others. While it may seem like there are some people out there in whom nothing Godly is happening, don’t be fooled. He lives in each and every one of us and wherever we find ourselves on the continuum; devout Christian to lowly sinner, we are all deserving of His love and we are all part of a much bigger plan that only He can see and understand.
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.
~1 John 4:18~
He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. ”
Sometimes we just want to know why. Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to someone I love? What does God want me to do with this? Where does He want me to go? Is it even Him? We want all of the answers to the questions we hold in our hearts and minds and we fail to accept that sometimes we can miss the whole point of the lesson because we were too busy trying to figure out why it was being taught. It’s possible that we do this because in some instances we are so worried that we are being punished for something we’ve done wrong that we forget that it isn’t always about us. In reality, even if it is really about us it isn’t likely that God is truly using the situation to punish us for not being perfect or for coming up with the wrong answer. Sometimes, He’s trying to help us get unstuck. Sometimes, we just have to let the seasons change and admire the presence of God’s handiwork as we face each new day. Sometimes we might have to do this through tears, but that doesn’t erase the beauty that He can create from our ashes. It only keeps it from being completely in focus until after we’ve dried our tears.
This has been a particularly difficult season in my life. Quite frankly, there have been many days when I had to constantly tell myself that things would be better in the morning. There were many nights that I woke up in fear, shaken by a nightmare or just a barrage of thoughts I didn’t want to have. Even though I love my God and I trust Him with all my heart, the devil wasn’t about to relent and I spent many hours of many days sitting in prayer, crying out to God for help. The best part of it all was that in all of those hours, even though I was going through some things I just couldn’t understand I knew that God was with me, He was for me and He was not going to let it all get the best of me in the end.
One of the toughest challenges I’ve faced in the past few years is watching as my loved ones have become ill and as some have passed away. This has been difficult not only because I have a hard time dealing with loss, but because I have a very hard time watching my family struggle with loss. So I sometimes have felt like I have to choose whether or not I will break down and let my sadness take over or if I am strong enough to support others as they experience grief. In truth, I tend to distance myself from those whom I love. This is especially true when I hear that they have been sick or when I realize that they are getting older and that they might not always be with me. Although selfish and quite possibly not the best thing I could do to show my love, it seems to be a reflex. Looking back at the times when I have truly had an opportunity to let someone know that they were important to me, I can’t say that I have ever taken full advantage of it. I know this is an area where God has been working on me and I like to think that I’m getting a little better at showing love on the front end. I hope and pray that I will eventually find strength to follow through with what I know to be the right way to let my loved ones know what they mean to me before it’s too late.
Just like anyone else, I get caught up in trying to protect myself from harm. With trying to protect my daughter from harm. Sometimes I fail to show forgiveness to the degree that God would have me show it. Sometimes, I’m simply too forgiving in the wrong circumstances and end up focusing all of my good energy on those who couldn’t care less whether or not I love them. It’s a process. A long, difficult process that encompasses not one, but pretty much every season of life. When I’ve prayed to God for understanding, He has most often been resolutely silent on the matter. The other day, however; I was asking Him for guidance and He said to me, “Sometimes we aren’t meant to understand the seasons of our lives until a long time after we’ve gone through them.” That was it. And in that moment, I thought about all of the things I have been through and tried to remember what I was feeling when I was going through them. Yes, it’s true. I didn’t understand them then, but with His help I understand most of them now. And later, it will make even more sense. But I have to keep asking Him for that guidance. I have to keep asking Him to help me through what doesn’t make sense and hope that He will show me the why later. And when He gives me answers, I have to not only be willing to apply that knowledge, but to share what I’ve learned when it makes sense.
God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.
~1 Kings 4:29~