Abiding in God’s Presence Drives Out Fear

lets_goContinued from here.

The day after I wrote yesterday’s blog entry, I attended an evangelism meeting at my church. We talked about a presentation I am building on talking about our faith: why we need to do it and how. I felt so alive in that meeting and did not have a whit of anxiety during or after it. I realized that my focus was on God rather than my problems, and I felt the difference between a “life” and “death” focus in a tangible way.

And then God pounded home the same message during my quiet time the next morning. I read the following quote in Daily Wisdom for Women 2017 Devotional Collection:

Try ‘abiding, not striving nor struggling.’” ~ Hudson Taylor’s friend

Next was this quote in Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence:

Relax in My loving Presence.’”

And then this quote from Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Workbook):

To be God’s servant, you must be moldable and remain in the hand of the Master.”

When I hear the same message three times in a row, I take notice.

I am now getting a better understanding of what I keep doing “wrong.” I have a similar nature to Peter and Paul, always running ahead of God, zealous to do His will but not waiting for His signal to act. Both men truly wanted to serve God, but their view of servanthood aligned too much with the world’s view – as soon as they thought they knew where God was going, they ran out ahead of Him and tried to do the job themselves. I don’t know if this caused them anxiety or not, but that’s what happens to me when I do it. Like Peter and Paul, God can use me to go boldly where He leads, but I first must learn to follow, just as they did.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace running and saying, “Let’s go!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

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How Love Drives Out Fear

do_not_panicContinued from here.

I am still in the early stages of processing all of this, but here’s what I have learned thus far…

God is love, so whenever I am with Him, I am “with love.” While He promises never to leave me, I can leave Him, and I do whenever I run ahead of Him into my circumstances. He always walks with me, but I don’t always walk with Him.

My pattern is to run ahead into the circumstances, reminding myself that God will show up. My faith has developed enough to know that God will, indeed, show up, but it always seems like he does so at the very last minute. Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by unpleasant circumstances, trying to hold onto my faith and remain standing until God arrives. I don’t think that is how God plans for us to live.

I have been pondering if perhaps there is another, better way to live. Perhaps God wants me walking alongside him with my focus on Him rather than on my circumstances. Instead of running ahead into my circumstances and waiting for Him to catch up, perhaps I have another option – to walk alongside God at His pace and enjoy the blessings of His love and presence while the circumstances come to me. For all I know, by the time those circumstances reach me, they might look quite different up close. Rather than being a river at flood level, it might just part the moment God and I step into it. And even if it doesn’t, the time leading up to my inevitable intersection with the river can be spent experiencing love, joy, peace, and rest as I walk alongside God, knowing that I am in His presence the entire time we are walking together.

When I was in therapy, my therapist repeatedly told me to live in the present moment, not in the future. Perhaps this is what he was talking about. The only moment I can do anything about is right now, and right now is the only moment that intersects with eternity. If I can stay focused on walking with God right now in this present moment, might love drive out the fear and anxiety?

Only God knows the answer, and only He can empower me to do this. Please pray that I learn this lesson. I am so tired of living in fear.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding up her arms and saying, “Don’t panic.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

Do Not Fear

fearAnxiety has plagued me for most of my life. It used to be much worse: I struggled with an anxiety disorder for decades, which caused me to have panic attacks regularly. I cannot remember the last time I had a panic attack, so I have certainly progressed. However, anxiety continues to be an issue for me.

I have been praying about what I am doing “wrong,” and God led me to this verse:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18

I have always struggled with this verse because I don’t perceive what I am fearing as “punishment.” The root of my fear is other people harming me, and that comes from a childhood of abuse, where authority figures had the power to inflict much harm. I do not view the child abuse as “punishment” so much as simply evil.

Looking at the context of the entire passage, the focus is on love – God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for other people. It sounds like love and fear are incompatible, so where I have a fear problem (anxiety), I have a love problem. I know that God loves me, and yet I fear (experience anxiety). How specifically does love drive out fear?

Multiple passages in the Bible tell us not to fear. The reason provided for not fearing is that God is with us:

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.” ~ Is. 41:10

I know that God is always with me, but do I really believe it? If I did, wouldn’t that drive out the fear? And then where does love tie into this?

Continued here.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking frightened. Courtesy Bitmoji.]