31 Days with the Savior: Flock

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Gentle Reader,

“Do not fear, little flock.” – Luke 12:32a (NKJV)

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.

(Last Week’s) Five Minute Friday: Ready

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Gentle Reader,

Linking up late (again) with Kate and the FMF crew. Setting the timer for five minutes and I’m: ready.

Go.

I never feel ready for anything. Ever. Even when I was a kid and I’d study for tests weeks before they actually happened, I never felt prepared. I was always convinced that I was going to fail. (And I did on occasion. Organic chemistry. Algebra. I have yet to use either in life. Whatever).

I’ve carried that sense with me into adulthood. I’m always looking over my shoulder, wondering when the fall is going to come. No matter how hard I work or how well I do my job, surely I’m going to get fired. No matter how well I’ve got the lesson prepared (or the game, or the discussion questions, or anything) for the kids on Wednesday nights, it’s going to be a flop. No matter how closely I follow the recipe, when I cook dinner (a rare and well-documented thing in my house), it will suck.

Somehow, somewhere, some time, I came to believe that I’m a weakling who can’t handle anything. I started second-guessing every decision. Re-thinking every word. Clipping my cuticles (nail obsession tends to happen in those who are anxious). Oh, and I analyze. Everything. All the time. From every angle. Until I want to throw up.

It’s something else when you actually make yourself sick.

Looking at this belief of mine, this idea that I’m never ready…well, it makes me shake my head. So many times it hasn’t been true. I make plans and see things through and the failures, while real, have never been big enough to rock my world forever. I’ve worked for the same people for 14 years, for Pete’s sake. It makes zero sense to think that I’m going to be fired every time I walk through the door.

Here is another area in which I must learn to operate out of what I know and not what I feel. There’s a lot I can prepare for. I might not feel ready, but I can be ready. When the times comes when I can neither feel nor be ready – like my approaching visit to the liver specialist – I can rely on the One who goes before me.

The Lord who is always ready.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Detox Diaries, Five Minute Friday Edition: Exhale

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Gentle Reader,

Five Minute (it will be in a few hours) Friday.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo.

Tonight we: exhale.

Go.

Inside the mind of the anxious, stream-of-consciousness style:

It’s so hot and I hate the heat and I wish we had central air. I’m worried about this barbecue that Chris is throwing tomorrow. It’s supposed to be so hot and there’s not shade at the park in our neighborhood and we don’t know how many people are going to come and what if we run out of food or don’t have enough to drink? I shouldn’t care but I do because…I don’t know why. Everything is too much right now. So busy. So overwhelming. Packed carts and shelves at work and stuff just keeps streaming in, stuff that people want right now. Is Benny doing okay? That dog attack on Saturday was so scary. I’m afraid to take the dogs for a walk by myself now. Chris is running some kind of saw in the garage and it just pierces straight into my brain and I want to throw something. I am annoyed. Seems like all the time. Not for any real reason. I know what is happening in my body and why I feel like I do but that doesn’t make it easier and how I long for Jesus to just take this from me! I am scared to ask not because I don’t think He can but because I think He won’t. This concerns me less for me and more for others; how will they interpret it if they pray and I am not released? Not healed? I think about making people happy. I want them to have a good time. That’s why I’m worried about this barbecue. I sensed the Spirit telling me to “choose to have fun” instead of stressing out, but I’m not even really sure what that would look like. Is it really so simple? Can you just choose to enjoy something and refuse to worry?

I feel like I am taking more and more in and just want so badly to exhale.

Stop.

Tell me, dear reader. Is it really that simple? The question is a deep one for me. I suspect that I can, in fact, choose…but I worry about the consequences of that choice. I see patterns. I see the interconnectedness of every decision. And right now, I feel darn near paralyzed.

Edited to Add: We’re not supposed to edit our Five Minute Friday entries, but we are supposed to visit as many of the other bloggers as we can and provide feedback. After entering this piece to the link-up, I read Hannah Boning’s entry and it was exactly what I needed. Please, go and check it out!

Another Edit: God is truly ministering to me through the words of all the fabulous, gorgeous and talented bloggers who are participating this week. He heard the desperate cry of my soul and sent the words that would soothe the pain. I am so, so grateful for these sisters (and some brothers!)

My journey to faith. (15)

To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.

The Ugly Offspring of Worry

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Gentle Reader,

Scripture is deep. I wish I had a better way of saying that, but there you go. There is no end to the treasures to be found within the pages. Perhaps more importantly, there is no end to the ways that God will speak to us. One moment, one verse, one eye-opening lesson. The next moment, same verse, different lesson.

I have long loved Psalm 37:7-8 –

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm. (NKJV)

As we use “worry” and “fret” interchangeably in the impreciseness that is English, I have assumed that these verses address worry. Don’t worry about what other people are getting. Give things up to God. Wait for Him to act; He’ll always take care of you. Let anger and worry go because they only hurt you.

All of that is true. Last week, however, I decided to look up the original word for “fret.” There are four different Hebrew words:

Charah: used in Psalm 37:7-8.  To blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy; be angry, burn, be displeased; earnestly, fret self, grieve, be (wax) hot, be incensed, kindle; very, be wroth.

Pecthetheth: a boring or eating out, hole, hollow. (Refers to a leprous decay in a garment).

Qatsaph: to be displeased, be angry, fret oneself, be wroth; to be full of wrath, to be furious; to provoke to wrath or anger; to put oneself in a rage, anger oneself.

Ra’am: to thunder; to make the sound of thunder, thunder; to rage.

Along with several Greek equivalents:

Athymeo: to be disheartened, dispirited, broken in spirit.

Ekkaio: to burn out, to set on fire, to be kindled, to burn.

Lypeo: to make sorrowful; to affect with sadness, cause grief, to throw into sorrow; to grieve, offend.

Merimnao: to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); to seek to promote one’s interests; caring or providing for.

(This list of Greek equivalents is not exhaustive. For more information, check out StudyLight).

As I pondered these words, it occurred to me that fretting is the ugly offspring of worry. I have yet to meet someone who struggles with anxiety who doesn’t also struggle with anger. The two are logical bedmates. When you are worried that nobody else is looking out for you, it’s natural to get angry. It makes sense to blaze wit bitterness. You’re trying to protect yourself, trying to prepare for every possible outcome. As you are seeking to promote your own interests, you don’t really have energy to promote anyone else’s, and, if they ask you to, you resent that. They have added to your burdens.

Don’t fret – don’t lash out. Don’t thunder. Don’t let worry eat a hole in you. Don’t rage. Don’t be offended.

All this anger stems from anxiety, and that anxiety is rooted in a disheartened, broken spirit.

I know this in my bones. When my husband leaves his things lying around, I get irritated. I snap at him. I make it a bigger deal than it needs to be – because I am afraid that he doesn’t listen to me. I am afraid that he doesn’t think I matter. I apply to his actions a meaning that isn’t there, because of past hurts that have torn my heart to pieces.

Brokenness to anxiety to anger.

Look what Jesus said He came to do:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Luke 4:18-19, quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 (NKJV)

A disheartened, broken spirit results in the oppression of anxiety which leads to the fires of barely controlled anger. Jesus came to set us free from that! He came to mend all the broken places, patch the holes in our hearts, pour into us real love and hope. My friend, let’s allow Him to do that work, right now. This day. This moment.

Let’s allow Him to begin the process of transforming our lives. I don’t know about you, but I am weary of the past dictating the present. I don’t have energy to plan for every outcome. I don’t want to argue with everyone about stupid things. What I want is trust that God has my best interests at heart, that He will promote them and that I can rest in His continual care. Imagine the freedom! Imagine the peace! Whatever is happening with other people, whatever they might be getting, I want to be assured that it’s all good for me.

I want to live in the riches of His grace, reject going back to prison, live wide-eyed in the world, dance in freedom and embrace His favor. I want that for you, too!

My journey to faith. (15) This post also appeared on the Far East Broadcasting Company Gospel Blog on March 9, 2014.