When Fear Ends

Quotation-Ann-Voskamp-god-fear-love-Meetville-Quotes-146439

Today I open a Bible and flipped around randomly through its pages. I just so happened to look down at where I landed and, lo and behold, I looked right at Psalm 27. Here’s what I read:

The Eternal is my light amidst my darkness
    and my rescue in times of trouble.
    So whom shall I fear?
He surrounds me with a fortress of protection.
    So nothing should cause me alarm” (Psalm 27:1)

That reminded me of something I learned a long time ago about fear.

What are you afraid of right now? What is the greatest cause of anxiety and stress for you at the moment you are reading this?

Imagine the worst-case scenario were to come true (which is highly unlikely– think 1 out of 1,000 times). Imagine that you get fired from your job, you flunk out of school, your checking account goes belly-up.

Now, picture this. Even in the midst of all that wreckage, God is still there. You can lose jobs, money, possessions, friends– even spouses– but you can never lose God, because it’s not you holding on to God, but God holding onto you.

I love the image that I heard somewhere. When you hit rock bottom, you find that God is the Rock at the bottom. And maybe that’s a good place to be, where you have nothing left to stand on but the One True Foundation of Jesus.

An old black preacher described fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” The future that fear shows you may look legit, but it is always a lie. That’s because fear will always show you a future without God in it.

God promised in His word that perfect Love casts out fear. Fear can’t stand in the presence of God’s unfailing love. The only way for fear to win is for you to doubt God’s love and believe that it has come to an end. Faith is the antidote to fear and it doesn’t have to be great faith in God. All you need is faith in a great God.

fear-ann-voskamp

A Third Letter to a Way Younger Me

charliebrown_writing

Remember that day you thought was your worst day ever? Remember how you felt like you were having a nervous breakdown? You weren’t. Just for the record.

Remember how you thought you’d made the biggest, most colossal blunder in the history or blunders? You didn’t.

As I learned tonight, the worst day ever can be the beginning of your best day yet to come.

You fin that the dreaded worst case scenario did not come to pass. No one stoned you. No one ostracized you. Nothing was lost that wasn’t replaced eventually by something 10,000 times better.

As Joseph put it, even when the worst got thrown at you, what people meant for evil and harm, God used for good. God took all those rough patches to make you who you are now and to help you start to realize all that God could do in and through you.

Even the worst days end. They are 24 hours long, just like your best days and your so-so days. You didn’t croak or kick any buckets. You are still here and those supposedly insurmountable problems and obstacles aren’t. Just you remember that.

It really is darkest before that proverbial dawn. It does get better and you will eventually wonder why you made such a fuss over it.

As I said before, naps are good. You don’t get a rollover plan on those naps, so take them early and often while you still can.

Things I Love 8: Greg’s Sanity Has Left the Building

island hammock

FYI: these blogs will continue until I get to 1,000 things I love. It’s from the book, One Thousand Gifts, so I’m trying to list out– wait for it– 1,000 little things that I believe are God’s gifts to me and daily reminders that stir me to gratitude and thanksgiving as a lifestyle. Plus, I don’t have to worry about what I will be blogging on until at least July of 2014. Just kidding. Sort of.

Ok. Here goes the list, starting at #168. Drum roll, please.

168) Looking through old photo albums and reliving those old memories and remembering people who’ve been gone from my life for a while (and thinking they’re looking down from heaven and smiling at those photos, too).

169) My extremely loud Hawaiian shirt, which one random teenager called “sick.” I guess that’s a compliment. I’m not really sure.

170) Everything related to either Narnia and Wardrobes or Middle Earth and Hobbits.

171) Surprise birthday parties (hint, hint, subtle subliminal suggestion. . . cough).

172) Celebrating Easter and remembering that the Resurrection changed EVERYTHING. Including me.

173) That Jesus would have chosen the nails and the cross and the agony if only for me alone.

174) By Jesus loving me unconditionally and prodigally, he made me loveable.

175) Silent movies.

176) Box hockey (and the fact that I know what box hockey is).

177) All my high school reunions where I see old friends and get to catch up after 10 (or 20) years apart.

178) That I get to be a small part of Kairos, a worship gathering for young adults, every week and I see God at work there every single week.

179) Being content in my relationships and not obsessively wondering where they might or might not be headed,

180) Knowing that if the absolute worst case scenario should happen, I would still be loved by Jesus and God would still work even that out for my good and his glory.

181) How randomly my brain works these days.

182) The vast array of autumn colors from the leaves changing and falling.

183) Doing small random acts of kindness for people when they least expect it.

184) Any positive news stories (because they are sadly the exception and not the rule).

185) That I’m down to 715 more things to be thankful for.

186) Now it’s only 714.

187) That I’m not what everyone else thinks I am or even what I think of myself, but only what Jesus says I am– Chosen, Redeemed, Beloved, Child of God, Forgiven, Free, etc.

188) That Jesus won’t ever stop reminding me of my true identity and sending friends who will help me remember the song in my heart when I forget the words.

189) Lightning bugs at night in an open field.

190) Cheese grits made just right.

191) That I probably have at least 32 more of these blogs a-comin’ your way. But not in a row.

When the Lights Go Out

lucynarnia

I was en route from Memphis recently, listening to a book on CD, as all well-seasoned travellers do. It was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, book 5 of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. It was read by Derek Jacobi, by the way, in case you were dying to know.

In the book, the Dawn Treader sails into an island of darkness. It’s a place where fear rules and all nightmares come to life. Lucy is at the top of the ship, watching as the crew tries vainly to escape. In her desperation, she says, “Aslan, if you ever loved us, help us now.” The answer to her prayer is an albatross who, as he flies by her, whispers, “Courage, dear heart,” in Aslan’s voice. He then leads them out into the sunlight.

I bet you’ve been in some dark places in your life. You’ve felt trapped in the valley of the shadow of death, where no light or hope can get through. You’ve been searching for a way out, but all you find is more darkness, more despair, more hopelessness.

You feel your circumstances will never get better. You fear that nothing will ever change. You come to believe that your worst-case scenario is due to come true any day now. Your faith is at a low ebb and your fears are cresting and crashing waves that swamp you.

There’s a voice, if you are still enough to hear it, that whispers the same words what it whispered to Lucy. “Courage, dear heart.” It says, “Hold on. Trust in Me in the darkness even when you can’t find Me there. I am with you, with My everlasting arms underneath you. I will never ever let go.”

Don’t believe that you feel or what you think, but what you know. Believe the same God who has proved Himself over and over and Whose word is true. Know that He is with you and for you in your darkness. Darkness may prevail right now, but joy is coming with the morning.