I had let my blog die. I knew it and I was ok with it. After all, life is busy and I have other projects I am working on now…. right….?! And yet, as I sit here on this beautiful Sunday morning, I am compelled to write. I don’t why but I must.
It was just a few weeks ago, I went with my husband and his family to pick blackberries about an hour away from us. I love blackberries. One of the sweetest, juiciest treasures of summer. However, picking them comes with a price. They grow on large thorny vines that seem to sometimes want to reach out and grab you. You cant pick these little purple jewels without getting scratched and poked. Also, they grow where there are scary little creatures like rattle snakes and spiders and scary big creatures like bears. Finally, they like to grow near water in what is otherwise a fairly dry area. So as you can imagine you often have to get into some interesting places to gather them.
It was in one of these interesting places that I found myself. I was teetering on the edge of a bank above a creek, my right hand in a leather glove grasping one of the long and pokey vines and my left hand snatching up any blackberry that was in reach. It was in that moment I was struck with my own bravery. As a child/teenager/even young adult, I would have NEVER found myself in this place. IF and I mean IF I had even had the bravery to go anywhere near this set of circumstances, I would have stayed as far back from the edge as I could have and only picked the easy to reach berries. So what has changed? How was I suddenly able to do something that I had never been able to do in the past? The answer is really nothing. I didn’t sit and work myself into being able to do something that had once scared me… I didn’t even stop to pray… All I did was go. HERE IS THE KEY… For once I didn’t lead with my own fear. In fact, I didn’t even let fear enter the picture. As I hung precariously from that sandy bank, my bucket full of berries, I realized that I had jumped some kind of personal hurdle.
I don’t mean to say that I now have no fear. It is truly one of my biggest struggles. Fear. Fear of people. Fear of circumstance. Fear of situations. Fear. BUT when I realized that a moment without fear was actually freeing I began to change. I still have so far to go… but I need to change. I have often in my life overcome a fear and found myself in interesting situations. (other stories for other days) However, I now realize that I don’t just want to have to work beyond my fear, I just want to be rid of it all together. I want to find myself with people and in places and discover that I didn’t have to convince myself of anything and instead I just didn’t lead with fear at all.
Throughout the Old Testament, we read about the Army of God being brave warriors. Over and over again that is how they are referred to. They were just brave. They didn’t lead with fear rather they approached terrible situations with courage. They knew that God was guiding their path and that is all they needed to know. It kept them moving in the right direction. 1 Chronicles 19 discusses one of these very times.
So why is this important? We often use fear as a descriptor of personality. “Oh, it’s ok she is just shy.” “So and so is very timid.” “That’s just how introverts are.” However, God has not called us to be fearful. Instead He says, “Be strong and courageous.” If we are supposed to pattern ourselves after God’s Son, I fail to find a time where Jesus was fearful. Fear is an emotion, but fear CAN become sin. When fear keeps us from relationships, keeps us from moving, keeps us from going after the things God has from us… fear is sin. If God says… “Hey, here is where I need you. This is what I have for you.” And you say… “Uh, I can’t do that. I might get hurt, I might be rejected and I don’t know what happens next and that’s not within who I am.” We are in direct opposition to God.
Recently, I spoke to our youth group about how often we try to justify our own sin to make it so that it doesn’t really “look like sin.” We looked at David and Bathsheba. When David (the “man after God’s own heart”) knew he messed up, rather than seeking God’s forgiveness, he looked for ways to make it seem like he hadn’t sinned at all. He tried to justify his own sin. To justify just means to to make something right. But once sin has entered the picture the only way we can truly make it right it through the blood of Christ. Otherwise, we continue to allow that same sin to stand between us and God. For David this meant that he had to hit rock bottom to the point of murdering another before he realized that God was truly the only one who could justify what he had done. And God was faithful.
And so God can be faithful to me. And to you… What is it that you often try to justify on your own, but in the end it just stands between you and God’s best for you? Truly, I cannot be brave without God’s equipping and His love and grace for me.
God, make me brave so that I can be the person you have called me to be. I want your exceedingly abundantly for my life. I want the fullness of all of the things you have for me. I want to thrive… not just survive. Amen
Bonus: This song is the beat of my heart right now… maybe it needs to be yours too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Hi-VMxT6fc