What I don’t give to God cannot be touched by Him. Cannot be healed by Him.
He cannot show me the truth of any of the things I don’t or won’t give to Him.
Like the boy who gave his bread and fish to Jesus. So trusting and small, yet so big in the hands of Jesus.
I recently stumbled upon a better way of giving my fears to God. Fear has been a driving force nearly all of my life. Someone said that the enemy has only a few things in his arsenal to use against us. Fear, guilt, and shame are the things he uses most effectively to move us off track, keep us distracted, or to immobilize us completely from experiencing God’s good intentions for our lives. That’s been so true in my life.
I’ve been listening to Jamie Winship, the author of Living Fearless. He teaches about our identities and truth-telling with God. About a process of simply bringing our real fears to God and asking Him, “What do you want me to know about this?” This situation, this fear, this circumstance, this confusion, this darkness.
I’ve done something like that in my prayers, but I wasn’t actually asking God what He wanted me to know. I was asking God what He wanted me to know so I could fix the thing. To make the outcome what I wanted it to be. I did not consider He might have a different outcome in mind. Or a different path. Or even a place of peace in the midst of the storm. I was pushing for peace that came because I knew I was going to have my results one day soon.
That is how I discovered truth in the inward parts. I didn’t know those were my thoughts. My motives. I didn’t realize I did not trust in my Heavenly Father’s plan. Not really. Not when I wasn’t seeing anything change in my circumstances. I knew what His blessings should look like and they weren’t coming my way. And I was afraid. Afraid I was too bad, too unfaithful, too broken for Him to give me what He said was mine. Afraid I would always fail. Afraid I would reap all the consequences from a life not lived well. All the consequences that were surely due me.
One morning recently, I heard the Lord say my true challenge was my biggest fear and I had made that fear an idol. I was serving it. Listening to its lies more than I was listening to God’s truth. I was spending time, energy, and resources on trying to change things because I was afraid. I was working in my own strength and with my own reasoning. I even made prayers to God encouraging Him with His own Word to fix the problem as I saw it. I didn’t see the true issue. I needed Him to show me the actual truth, which was that I was bowing down to the god of fear and it was stealing the life, the hope, and my future from me. I was threshing wheat in a cave like Gideon because I was afraid.
I was led to see how Gideon finally accepted the identity word God came to give him. The identity of Mighty Warrior. Gideon’s first act of obedience before he fully experienced his true identity as a mighty warrior was to tear down the idol that had been built because the people feared the gods of the Amorites.
That morning, The Lord asked me to tear down my idol to fear. To serve only Him not fear of unknown outcomes; not fear of others’ opinions; not fear of hidden disasters waiting for me. To serve only The Truth. Jesus. Bow only to Him. To ask Him each day, in each thing I encounter, in each fear that comes what He wants me to know about it. What is His truth in it. And then what He wants me to do with it.
As unbelievable as it sounds, the fear is gone. Nothing changed in my outward circumstances but the white-knuckled grip I had on each moment of every day is gone. There is peace, yes, beyond understanding, filling my heart, spirit, and mind. There is trust that He truly has it all figured out and ALL His intentions for me are good. That He always intended to take me to a promised land not have me die in the desert. I just didn’t believe it when all I saw was an empty landscape covered with gritty sand.
It is not the mountain in front of me that is my problem. It’s my fear of the mountain. It is not the river in my way that is the real challenge. It’s my lack of trust in God’s Word when He said, “Speak to the mountain and it will move.” When He said, “I am taking you to a land of promise that is yours and I will make a path for you, even to parting the sea that stands between you and my promise.”
“Do Not Fear. I will be with you.”
I know now that every time I am afraid I must tell Him and ask Him what He wants me to know about the circumstance. I heard Jamie say that fear simply points to a lie we believe. That was true for me. I believed the lie that God couldn’t want to be good to me when I had so many times not followed well. The lie that God didn’t care about this area of my life. That I was not worthy to have a solution and it made me afraid and unbelieving.
God came and reminded me His Word is the ultimate Word over everything. That His love for me is never ending. That He is with me always. That ALL His ways are for my freedom. For my relationship with Him. For my transformation. His mercy is new EVERY morning and all I have to do is receive it.
May you be blessed with a fearless journey today and always.
Hugs & Blessings, dear friends,
Next time I’ll tell you what I’m learning about receiving!
Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. Luke 1:45
Jesus keeps quietly, gently inviting me to follow Him into places I’ve never been. Places with people. Creative environments with artists. Even into unfamiliar business trails. He keeps asking me to say, “Yes.” “Yes,” to His request that I follow Him into a vast unknown kingdom land.
In reflecting on the birth of Jesus, and Mary and Joseph’s part in this great event, I saw the Christmas Yes. I saw it was Mary and Joseph’s response to God that made Christmas come alive for us all.
They were waiting. Looking for the One who had been promised to come. Isaiah prophesied Jesus’ birth 700 years before He was born. Generation after generation had waited. Until all they knew was waiting. Until the day an angel came to Mary.
In that one moment, that one choice, Mary’s life was forever changed. As was ours.
As Mary said, “Yes, be it unto me according to your word,” in that minute she must have known where her yes could lead her. She must have known she could be shamed and rejected by her family and friends. Shunned by her betrothed and the community. Although the prophecies spoke of the virgin birth of the coming Messiah, who would ever believe that it could be her?
In spite of any of her doubts, Mary honored God more than all those others and said, “Yes.” From then on, this seed God planted in her was His work. He formed this child in her womb.
And then I thought about Joseph. About the angel that kept showing up in his dreams and giving him messages from God. I found four records of his encounters with an angel as he slept. In every case, Joseph’s response was the same: he immediately got up and obeyed the directions given. This was Joseph’s yes. Complete, immediate obedience.
The Ungiven Yes
I thought more about my own, “Yes,” to God. When He speaks to me of His plans or purposes for my life, His dream seeds. Is my response, “Yes, be it unto me according to your word?” Or when He speaks quietly, softly nudging me to make more room for Him in my life, is my response to immediately rise and do what He said?
As He comes to me planting promises of who I am in Him. Of where we will go together. And my “yes,” like Mary’s, is an abandonment of trust that opens my life to His work within me. His forming of something within me I do not recognize and cannot see until I say, “yes.” Then, in expectation, I watch Him create this work in me. I wait as He births this promise. This “yes” requires only that I believe in what He has said.
I realized I was fairly good at giving Mary’s “yes”. The one that signifies a level of trust in God. In who He is and in His power to do the work. I say, “yes,” knowing the how and when is up to Him. What I don’t do so well is Joseph’s “yes”. The “yes” that requires obedience. I say my “yes,” expecting God to do the rest. I saw that in Joseph’s “yes”, he understood there was a responsibility to God, to Mary, and to Jesus and he was committed to do whatever God said to steward these lives placed in his hands.
I found Joseph’s immediate, obedient, “yes,” so amazing. I don’t always do that. I tend to ponder and then wonder if I really heard from God. I wait, sometimes thinking perhaps I need confirmation. I may look for a Bible verse. Many times I just forget about the words because I am not sure they are real…
In my author journey, I have not seen that God’s call on my creative life requires a commitment. That there is a responsibility attached to my “yes”. That when I say, “Yes, I trust you,” I am also receiving an assignment to go and do. To follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit and act.
I was so convicted by Joseph’s, “yes.” I had to sit with God and repent for the many, many times I did not acknowledge His word to me. I prayed for empowering grace to trust and obey. Trust like Mary did. Obey like Joseph.
Trust and Obey
There’s a fullness in the lesson of Mary and Joseph’s faith in God. There was an expression of trust and an expression of obedience. Mary surrendered to God’s work within her womb. There was not one thing she could do to form the Messiah child within her body. God planted the seed of this child. She had faith in His word over her life. She had an absolute trust He would fulfill all that He said. Her only part, as far as I can see, was her “yes”. Her willingness to be what God called her “favored one.” Mother of the Messiah. Her response was one of surrender. As God chose her, she chose Him.
One “yes” in our lives is our willingness to be what God calls us, whether it’s artist, author, craftsperson, singer, poet or architect. To trust in the word the Lord has spoken to us about what’s in us. To surrender to His life within us.
Joseph’s instant obedience to the word of the Lord was a different expression of faith in God than Mary’s, but without his immediate action, the mother and child would have been in danger and could have died. It’s obvious that God knew when He chose Joseph, He had found a man whose heart was committed to God.
I am inspired and convicted by Joseph’s “yes” to God. I know I need to listen more clearly to God to understand better what is His work and what is mine. What is He birthing and what am I being asked to steward in obedience?
Another thing that struck me was the context of Mary and Joseph’s faith. After generations of waiting, He was coming. The Messiah. Their trust and obedience opened the way for the birth and protection of the son of God, Son of man, Jesus.
We sit in a similar place today. Waiting. Waiting for the Beloved Savior to return. Foretold so long ago, we have almost despaired, but He’s coming back. All that God said will come to pass. Our “yes” today, our faith and obedience, ushers in His kingdom. Advances His kingdom in us and through us. Our “yes” gives Him permission and room to fulfill His word to have a bride without spot or wrinkle. To form in us and act with us in bringing Jesus to the world in the way that He dreams. Each one of us has a Christmas Yes waiting for our response. A “yes” of trust and a “yes” of obedience.
In the Name of Jesus, I bless you as you trust and obey. May the seed of your “yes” be watered this day with the love that falls from heaven and brings new life to you and all God’s planted within you.
You and I are why there is creation. Why there are blue skies, ocean waves, dolphins, and giraffes. We are the reason God put His story in every living thing and in the stars and sky. You and I, formed from the elements of earth by God’s hands and brought alive by the breath of God Himself. You and I are God’s wildest dreams.
Yet everything in our lives pits itself against our understanding this one thing—the deep, abiding, never-ending love God has for us. For each one of us. The truth that our lives matter more to God than the death of His only, beloved Son. God expressed His love by giving His heart, His Son for us. We are His delight. We are who He hungers to know as dearly loved children. As His dearly loved children.
Jesus knew His Father’s love for Him and He was secure. Jesus trusted the word from His Father’s mouth and the depths of His Father’s love for Him. Recently, I’ve been seeing a picture when I pray. I see Jesus asleep in a boat in a storm. I see the disciples gripping the railing of the boat watching the storm. Greatly afraid. I see Jesus resting in peace.
And then I see the boat, the waves, and the storm as from a distance and I see underneath the boat the hand of God cradling it. Even in the storm, the Hand of Jesus’ Father holds the boat safely.
I know that God is showing me His heart of love for me. And His path of obedience as well. To have faith in Him, I have to be looking at Him, not at the storm.
I am a seeker hungry to seek God. To walk in ever-increasing faith and trust in His goodness. There will be storms, but He is big enough, good enough to get me where I’m going and, if I’m abiding in Him there are times I will be sleeping, in complete peace, while my boat bumps along in the hand of God, in the middle of a storm.
I know I seem stuck on the storm metaphor these days but so much of what I feel is like big weather. An uncontrollable force that changes familiar landscapes into unrecognizable vistas. Winds that leave brokenness in their path. From here I sit and wait to hear from God. He does not change. It is the same day to Him whether it looks good or bad to me. He is the same provider, protector, source of all good gifts whether it is sunny or stormy in my world.
His intentions are always the same. To bless me and you. To be with us. To live with us in our world not perhaps in the way I see but big, beyond understanding. His plan for a peace that makes no sense. That lets me sleep in the boat. In the storm. Under the shadow of His wings is all and more we’ll ever need. Beauty we cannot see without Him. Life that cannot die because His life is so big it cannot be quenched and it is within us.
My understanding of Him is the understanding of a five-year-old who fights against the voice of a loving parent to play in the street or with fire. Incomplete understanding at best but dangerous and deadly at worst. Self, pride, or fear will always take me on a misdirected adventure. Away from the grand, glorious adventure God has for me with Him. To a place of beauty, peace, and joyful exploits.
Into the Storm
Hearing the storm, I didn’t think about adventures. I curled up into a pill bug ball breathing quietly until all would pass. But then I felt Jesus take my hand. He pulled me up, laughing, and we ran together. We ran into the storm not away from it. What felt prudent was not the way of God for me. Facing the storm with Jesus at my side was not an expression of bravery it was one of trust.
I knew running into the storm with Jesus was not dangerous. It was the safest place I could be.
Psalm 91: 1-2 TPT
When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,
you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,
the only God for me, and my great confidence.