Another birthday just passed. After all these years, most would think that I was sitting on a beach somewhere, soaking up sunshine and sifting sand between my toes. I guess I missed that train. …It seems that since my retirement at sixty-two because of health issues, my life has only gotten busier. Go figure!
With over four decades of chasing my career in corporate marketing, shouldn’t it be time for a break? God has a different plan. He taught me so much in my life, blessing me with prosperity and accomplishments that only God could make happen. Now, it seems, He wants to put me to work in the Kingdom, asking me to make one more career change.
Thinking about the angst that usually came with a job change, this feels so much different. Every day is filled with peace and calm. Gone are the worries about the people I will be working with, or what my new boss will be like. After fifty-plus years, I know God, my eternal best friend, and boss, well.
Instead of wondering what will be, my days are filled with the kind of wonder a child has walking into a carnival for the first time. Heart pounding with the smell of cotton candy in the air. Do you remember the first time that you smelled cotton candy? Reminiscing that day, it was the first time that I ever tasted a smell. I can still taste it today!
Sure, there are probably scary things ahead in my life, just like the carnival. There will be an occasional “Tilt-A-Whirl” or “Scrambler” to get me off balance. A trip through a “Haunted Castle” is sure dredge up a fear of demons and ghosts. Even the Clown that makes you cry will show up, igniting that deep fear of the unknown. How did we ever survive the onslaught of the carnival? Why were we so brave while running up to the ticket booth begging for just one more ride, one more big scare?! For me, it was simple: My Dad was right there by my side!
So it is today. As I walk into this new adventure, with all its tempting smells, and terrifying encounters, I know one thing, …
… My Daddy (Abba) is right there with me. Always!
The Monster Within
What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you as a kid? Monsters under the bed or in the closet? The neighborhood bully threating to alter your face. For some, even as adults, it’s as simple as standing in front of a bunch of people and talking. For others, sky diving or bungee jumping top the list. In my life, fear seems to raise its head whenever there is uncertainty and doubt. You know, those times when we are completely out of control of our situation or surroundings.
A few years ago, I heard a Pastor talk about how God wants us to come to Him, seeking protection from those monsters that scare us. In his talk, the Pastor referred to our fears as the “Monster in the backyard”, with several references to childhood fear, and the imagined monsters lurking in closets, under beds, and in the back yard. The Pastor’s message centered on how fear was the real problem, not the monsters, leading me to think about that World War II quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
I always wonder if FDR was referencing the apostle Mark in scripture with his famous quote. …
“Don’t yield to fear. All you need to do is to keep on believing.” —Mark 5:36 TPT
Listening to the Pastor’s message I thought, “Isn’t the real problem inside of us? Isn’t that where fear lives?” Through all my struggles, I have come to understand that fear, like the devil, is a liar. Think about it. How often do those things we fear happen? We have survived the monsters creeping around, and the bullies were usually more afraid of us, than we of them.
If you are like me, it is usually those things that we fear most that lead to the greatest blessings in life. With that understanding, why are we still afraid? Shouldn’t we run towards our fear, chase the monster out of our back yard?
One of my favorite songs from the seventies, “Face Your Fears” by Ben Sidran says, “Face Your Fears, you’ve got nothing to lose but your years. …” Ben’s wisdom always takes me to the Apostle Paul’s statement in Philippians …
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” —Philippians 1:21NKJV
If we truly believe that we are going to a better place for eternity when we die. What are we afraid of? Is it just the physical pain, the pain that only lasts a moment in comparison to eternity? God never promised there would be no pain, He promised that He would always be with us through our pain. For eternity!
“… that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” —Titus 3:7 NKJV
I was so blessed to be with my wife at the birth of our four wonderful children as a birth coach. My job was to help my wife to focus on her breathing, distracting her from the pain of childbirth. It was those coaching classes that God used to teach me a life lesson about pain:
It is our choice whether we focus on the pain or not.
As humans, we do not control a lot, but we can decide what to focus on. For my wife in childbirth, it was my job to distract her from her pain and help her think only about her breathing. The pain was still there and still intense, but her focus was somewhere else. Like the old cliché says, “If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one to hear it, did it make a noise?” In my wife’s case, did the pain exist if she ignored it?
Is the elimination of fear as simple as ignoring it, focusing on something else? As Christians we know to “keep our eyes on Jesus and the things of the world will grow strangely dim.”, but does that work with pain and fear? Yes!
Thinking back to the fear of spinning so fast in those carnival rides that it seemed I was going to fly out of my seat at a gazillion miles an hour. Or, the prospect of the haunted house with creepy crawlers everywhere, it’s a wonder how I survived the carnivals of my youth. What was it that carried me through my fear? It was knowing my dad was right next to me that made it all doable. When it got too intense, grabbing his hand brought so much peace and comfort.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is always there with an outstretched hand and a loving word.
When we are afraid, it is NOT our job to rid ourselves of fear, that is God’s job. However, it IS our job to focus on the one who will carry us through our fear. If it kills us, it is His will, and he waits for us in eternity. If it doesn’t kill us, aren’t we better, stronger? That is how our God does what our God does! He always gives us what we need, when we need IT!
So often it seems that when I was trying to get through something on my own, it was my “Fear of Failure” that was the most painful. Oh, the embarrassment when others saw my defeat! Maybe it comes from my years of experience, but I just don’t care what others think of me anymore. My comfort and peace come from knowing that I am here to please my Father in Heaven, not all the Nay Sayers. It is with our complete Faith in and surrender to God that we find peace and comfort.
When Christ Jesus taught about the Faith of a mustard seed and that we could tell a mountain to jump into the sea and it would be done. He wasn’t telling us that WE could do that!
He was telling us that with our FAITH, it would be done FOR US!
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” —Mark 11:23 NIV
For me, the hardest part of my walk with Christ Jesus is that complete surrender to Him, knowing that, with my Faith, it will be done FOR ME! When I slip and fall back into my will, and my desire, to serve myself, I call on the words of Joshua, …
“…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” —Joshua 24:15 NKJV
When my fears consume me, and it looks like there is no way out, I have found that Peace doesn’t come from trying to figure out a solution on my own. Instead, Peace comes from surrendering to the one who will hold my hand for eternity.
I love how Dave Frey from the Sidewalk Prophets captured the Apostle Paul’s words from Philippians. When I am fearful, this is a great song to sing!