Browsing Tag

fear

Faith

Time to Break Camp and Advance

October 9, 2014

It seems that the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives typically comes by traversing an off-road path that keeps us dependent on him. The journey isn’t the nicely paved road, but the trek filled with mountains, sharp edges, and unexpected turns.

We easily can relate to the disciples who were told to get in the boat and head to the other side. They saw a destination ahead of them, not the storm that would be their teacher long before their feet were back on ground. [Matt 8] Or there are the Israelites, whose 11 day journey in the wilderness to the promise land stretched out over 38 years and 8 months.

Promised destinations never arrive quickly. Though they sure come suddenly.

When the Israelites first headed into the wilderness, they were full of trust in the God who parted waters before their eyes. He performed miracles, provided supernaturally, and promised a land to them. They started out eager to arrive, conquer the land, and dwell within their home.

Most of our journeys are the same. At first, with the promise before us, our hearts are full of trust. We remember who God is and how supernaturally he works, and we’re expectant to see it. We’re excited to get to that promised destination and plant ourselves in what he has destined for us.

But, just like the Israelites, it’s easy to forget.

The time came along their journey where they were given the chance to explore what was up ahead. “Go check it out,” said God. “This is what I set aside for you.” [Num 13]

3423151541_2019bd4336_z[Photo credit: Lars Plougmann]

But instead of coming back with fiery eyes of passion and hearts full of gratitude, they came back wearing a heavy coat of intimidation. They forgot how God could work through them, making it all look too big, impossible, and overwhelming.

In fact, they came back holding onto words never actually spoken to them. It wasn’t the enemy who said they were the size of grasshoppers. They allowed the circumstances to fill their unbelief with words and pictures to validate those internal fears.

They became intimidated by what they saw, minimizing their identities by their own perceptions. And all of a sudden, what was promised became terrifying with giants too large and them too little. They peered over into what was ahead and said, “It’s too big.”

The Israelites refused to believe God’s ability to work in them and became totally lost, desiring to head back from where they came rather than move forward into what was promised.

I wonder if a transition happened along their 38-year journey of waiting in the wilderness as their hearts started to doubt what was possible with God. I wonder if, as dry and barren as the wilderness was, it became comfortable to them. Safe. Familiar. Without intimidating giants to keep them feeling unqualified, small, or exposed.

I wonder if their season of hiddenness, marked by God for a purpose, became a season of hiding by way of their own fear.  

As fired up as they were when they first left Egypt for this destination, along the way they became willing to forgo it for the slavery of the past, or the wilderness hiding of the present. Comfort and safety in hiding outweighed the responsibility of stewardship and leadership over what was being offered.

But then, all these years later, as God’s people stood at the same place where the law was first given and God was encountered, he spoke these words: “You have stayed at this mountain LONG ENOUGH. Break camp and advance.” [Deut 1]

It was time. No more hiding or wandering. God charged them to turn, take hold of their journey, and head up that dang hill to occupy what was theirs.

As much as we wrestle and battle through our own wilderness experiences, we can hide in them past our season. The Israelites found themselves in the desert because they were enslaved and needed freedom. We similarly find ourselves in the dry land because of God moving us out of where we were to bring us into something new. Yet, if we’re not careful to remember the God who works through us even when our circumstances are barren around us, we may find ourselves hiding in a wilderness of fears and doubts that says we’re too ill-equipped for what’s up that hill.

But then an unassuming Thursday comes along and we are standing in the middle of a wilderness journey long past when we were sure we would be on the other side. We wake up to how we’ve been hiding in our fears, that it’s time to get moving again. Yet, in the same breath, we remember how we don’t feel like it and decide tomorrow will be better.

Just as we go to sit down and wait out another day, God’s arrow of grace comes shooting at us with the words, “You have stayed at this mountain LONG ENOUGH. Break camp and advance.”

Faith

When Dreams Become Our Identity

July 24, 2014

There can be a danger to dreaming. If we’re not careful, what we hope for becomes what we rightfully await. And when a dream shifts to a right, then we’re in trouble. Because there, in that place, expectations get built around what was always meant by grace. To be gifted.

Dreaming with God is about soaring high above the confines of the world, feeling the air of freedom as we hope and believe for that which the world tells us cannot and will not. But overhead the chaotic chatter of doubt and defeat, we find wind for our wings as we tap into His dreams over our lives.

To dream with God is to fly. And oh, how we are meant to soar high.

Dreams come because of who He is and who He sees us to be. They are prophetic gifts of grace. They arrive by way of Heaven’s voice leaning down and whispering deep into our soul’s ears, “You see that way up there where it’s impossibly high? That’s exactly where I want to take you.

But if we’re not careful, we can hear those words, dream those dreams, and meld them into our identity as if part of us, a place they were never meant to occupy. Dreams affirm who we are, speaking to our identity in God, but never are they to validate us. They aren’t created to complete or satisfy, no matter our subconscious efforts to prove otherwise.

When our dreams become our identity, the once found freedom in hoping for what’s ahead becomes a weighted demand for our performance, image, and success. What was freeing now becomes suffocating. We feel the dream’s impossibility not as exhilarating and an opportunity for God to do what man never could, but as terrifying – our hearts racing from fear it will never happen unless we push harder.

image

So we grip tighter and cling with every bit of ourselves to those dreams. They no longer feel as gifts, but rights and demands upon our lives. We don’t wait in anticipation; we advance in panic.

The longer those dreams keep from manifesting, the more despair, discontent, and anxiety we have over all that isn’t in our lives. We look at our today and cry out in frustration over what is missing. Our dreams become the measuring stick for the present, our eyes so focused on getting to that place that today is never enough.

This isn’t what life is supposed to look like, we cry. And today becomes all but lost by our unmoving picture of how it’s all supposed to look. We are no longer attached to the Giver, but to the gifted dream itself. And here, we are wholly unaligned and out of sorts.

Our own efforts to seek to earn what has been gifted is one of the most exhausting, unending, never satisfying pursuits to life. Because we will never obtain what cannot be won.

The truth is that the more we push, the less anything moves. God waits for us to rest back into who we are in Him, while we press on out of need to validate, leaving ourselves tirelessly undone by the demands. But the rhythm of our lives doesn’t have to be centered on our efforts to press harder to perform better to become more.

The freedom of our dreams is always found in His rest and breath. When we sit deep again into our identity seat as His – as known, whispered to, fought for, and believed in – we find His spirit of life which exhales upon what was slain by our own sword.

The impossibilities of our dreams are meant to be our inheritance, but the road forward is marked by intimacy. When we find our identity tangled in our dreams, it’s time to hear His whisper, inhale deep His breath, and settle back into God’s restful presence.

I will put breath in you, and you will come to life…and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it.’” [Ezekiel 37]

Faith

Just How Pervasive Is Fear?

June 19, 2014

“Could it be fear?” he asked me.

I had spent the last thirty minutes sitting in one of those oversized leather chairs explaining how all the circumstances around were holding me back from moving forward with my dreams. The problem was timing, busyness, and other priorities I explained. I told how there’s no time, no creativity flowing, no money or resources available.

I felt justified in my immobility given my current circumstances. I figured this just wasn’t the season and maybe when situations are easier, the dreams will happen.

But his question that day caught me off guard. It implied that the reasons weren’t actually outside of me, which was way easier to pinpoint, but rather inside of me. Instead of circumstances against, maybe it was fear within.

“So just how pervasive is fear with your dreams?” he followed with.

Without giving my mind time to process, my words replied: “I think way more than I’ve realized.”

Because when it comes to our dreams, fear is right there waiting to keep us down and out.

It may come in different forms, as fear of rejection or failure. Maybe it is the fear of not being good enough, or even scarier, the fear of dreams coming true and carrying that weight of responsibility. Regardless, fear grips us by the illusion that we are paralyzed, overwhelmed, and unable to change circumstances around us.

fear is a liar giant wall sign

That day I walked out of the meeting realizing fear tries to convince us of two things:

That we are victims.
Fear tells us we are powerless to our circumstances. It’s like wearing glasses with tweaked lenses that portray a world where we are incapable to move because of the oppressive forces all around. We’re stuck, fear says, so no use in trying because there’s no way out.

That there is only lack, never enough.
Fear makes us believe in the lack of our today. It highlights all that is given to those around us as proof that there isn’t enough. Comparison is a tool used to emphasize what others hold and what cannot be ours. It gets us to believe there is no use in trying because all good things have been given elsewhere.

Fear steals. It takes our truth and it takes our power. Why? Because if we knew the truth, we would be stirred to move. And if we believed the Spirit’s power within us, immobility wouldn’t be an option. So it aims to strip the truth from our identity and the power from our dreams so we will likely remain paralyzed. Frozen by fear. Overwhelmed by defeat. No idea how to move forward.

But there’s something else fear does:

It indicates the direction to head.
Instead of giving ear to fear’s lies, what if those words are an indicator of where to move? Instead of slamming up against another wall of fear and deciding to fall down and be done – what if we decided that was proof enough we are on the right track? Because the place where fear pressures is the place meant for advancement by the Spirit.

The easy road is to do what I did and become a perpetual explainer of the whys of the immobility. It’s easy to list excuses. But it is also costly – because it costs traction in this present season.

It’s possible to believe in your dreams without moving one inch closer to them because, ultimately, believing isn’t enough. The question is: do we have faith? We may believe in the dreams, but to have faith in them is to respond by movement. Because faith always requires our action.

The way to silence fear in our lives is to move out by faith, expecting that mountains will move, waters will part, and storms will calm.

 

How pervasive is fear in holding you back? Maybe it’s time to get your heart racing by taking a daring step towards finding your rhythm and movement again.

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