“Mom, why are you not afraid of lots of things?”
The question came from the back seat of our SUV as we quietly pulled out of the driveway of my in-law’s peaceful lake house after spending a long weekend with family. It was early in the morning.
My almost 6-year-old son was persistent in asking, nearly to the point of demanding an answer.
His question took me by surprise. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most alert morning person (read: engaging and happy) out there…and by that I mean that I require at least one cup of coffee and a good hour or two before I start addressing deep, philosophical questions of life.
But, it was more than that. I was taken aback by this little person’s question because I don’t consider myself fearless. In fact, I attribute much of my stagnant faith to fear. It has kept me from walking in a fullness I’ve only dreamed existed. Until this year.
In My Mind
I know deep to the core of my being that I am destined to do great things. I see traces of searching for my purpose throughout my years of journaling since childhood. Never quite able to reconcile the status quo with my longings. Mostly just cruising through life.
If we had sat down for a cup of coffee and a chat prior to the start of this year, you would have observed someone on auto-pilot, pretending to be content with life as I knew it, and ignoring the stirring in my soul that there is more to this person God has created.
My thoughts were not being aligned with God's thoughts.
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
So many of my battles start in my mind. And I’ve realized about myself that I have no defenses to protecting my thoughts except through God’s grace and through His words of truth.
Just the other day I received discouraging news, and I felt my heart sinking with disappointment, despair, and darkness. But God’s grace! I caught myself in a downward spiral and realized what was happening. I recognized that those feelings were NOT of the Lord. I cried out to God “Be with me in this moment!” and watched the clock as I waited for His deliverance. Five minutes. Sixty minutes. Two hours. Four hours. Six hours.
It took six hours before I felt free from my discouraging thoughts and resolved in my spirit that God’s got this situation. Thank the Lord that because of Christ’s work on the cross, He “always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Rather than moping in sadness, in those hours following my discouraging news, I continued feeding my mind and thoughts with God’s truth as I fortified my spirit to continue living in my victory through Christ.
Maybe you’ve felt it, too. The grip of fear. The overwhelming uncertainty of what walking in faith will look like. You’ve felt it deep inside of you. The fear, but also a stirring and a hope. A hope that you were made for more.
Let me just confirm for you: You. Were. Made. For. More.
Maybe you feel like you’ve lost your “muchness” (to borrow from author Lewis Carroll). Maybe you just aren’t sure what the “it” looks like.
I've felt the same.
At the start of this writing adventure a mere ten weeks ago, I said to my husband, “You know, I feel like I am literally walking into a room that is pitch black. I can’t see anything, not even my hand in front of me. And, I’m scared.”
Part of me wanted to focus on how black the darkness was, to complain that because I couldn’t see anything that, well, that I couldn't go on. I felt the need to turn and run. I thought, “I should just wait until I can see more, until more light shines through.”
But isn’t that what I’ve been doing year after year after year?
And, that is the thing about faith. It requires you to step into a situation where you cannot tell how it is going to end. To trust fully in God.
I love how Priscilla Shirer puts it in her Armor of God children's workbook:
“Faith is one of the most overused and yet underutilized expressions in Christian circles. Which is completely backward. Because really, talking about faith is not the same as having it. Plain and simple, faith is an action.
Simply put, faith is acting like God is telling the truth. The key thought here is action. By definition, faith is not talking about, thinking about, or even celebrating God’s truth. It is the process of adapting your behavior, your decisions, and ultimately your whole lifestyle so that it accords with what God has asked you to do –without needing to see the evidence that it will all work out in the end. In fact, the thing that makes faith, well, faith, is when –like Daniel, Rahab, and the children of Israel—you choose to act in accordance with truth despite the fact that you can’t see what the outcome will be. The act of faith is what becomes a shield of protection to guard against the enemy’s attacks.” (italics mine)
All of the “What if’s?” will fly at you. The battle for your thoughts will rage on. But you have a shield of protection: Faith.
What will you choose? Faith and hope? Or fear?
Who will you listen to?
The choice is yours.
When I finally woke up enough to realize what my son was asking (and that he wasn’t just referring to my fear of snakes and how I’ve been trying really hard to overcome that lately!), I understood that he was referring to seeing my faith lived out through my actions. I could answer him with boldness that mommy doesn’t have anything to fear, so why would I fear? I know Who holds the future. And, I know what the ultimate outcome will be.
“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 righteous right hand.”