Wednesday, October 21, 2009

finding courage

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (New International Version)

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Courage, or the need for it presumes fear. What then are we afraid of? And what is the effect of fear?

For me, i have a deep seated fear of failure. I flunked a lot in High School, and flunked out of my 1st 2 years of college. There are also a host of other failures all that seem to bundle together and whisper "you are failing" in your ministry, family, personal life, etc. Most of the time i can keep these "demons" at bay; but if you add enough exhaustion and pressure to the mix they are quickly at my throat.

When this happens i slip into paralysis and survival mode. I go through the motions, watch tv, and allow a slow and deadly creep of depression to wash over me. I start to believe i am a failure and no longer have the energy or motivation to try and fight again. Hope and joy look like a mirage and it is here that i find myself check-mated by fear.

in my story, there is where Christ steps unto the stage of my life over and over again to rescue me. When i am a little black sheep curled up in a fetal position of fear i am usually a long way from Christ. I never mean for this to happen, i just get too busy, too overwhelmed, and i even view pressure as coming from Him. Pressure to be moral, a good example, etc. Then, time slips through my hands and Bible study fades, prayer becomes perfunctory, worship stale, and in general i neglect my relationship with God to the point of apathy and avoidance. But HE doesn't! He waits patiently for me to run out of gas, for the pressure to become too much, for the emptiness to become overwhelming, and for the loneliness of my soul to finally provoke my awakening. And then finally I call out for rescue.

And then the good shepherd comes. I may being laying in the frozen rain, trapped in some thornbush but i can see his lantern as he slowly comes towards me. Sometimes i want to hide, but mostly i feel hope and expectation. I practice my apology [as the prodigal son did] but when His intimacy gets close i start to hear his voice and remember how foolish this is. And when i see his broad and loving smile-and he lifts me up with his warm hands and carries me on his strong back-i just cry and cry and cry. His presence alone brings back those three things listed in the scripture above. His presence brings encouragement and the light of his love, his perfect love, casts off the darkness of fear. And hope returns, good hope-not my hopes for success and meaning-but his hopes for love, compassion, grace, mercy, and renewal. And when He is close I again start to feel strong. Not 'my' strength, but his strength being renewed in me.

And this is where i find myself today. After about 8 weeks of woundedness. The news of my mothers cancer had just overwhelmed me in the midst of so many other pressures. For 8 weeks i slowly dissolved inside and fell into paralysis, fear, stagnation, and depression. Not that i couldn't function but i wasn't functioning in His strength, His encouragement, and His hope. But today i can feel Him carrying me again. I feel His presence healing and awakening me. His strength is pouring into me as our relationship has become "real" again and not just theoretical.

But this relationship is always 2 sided. And i must stay with Him. I must stay dependant upon Him. And I must guard my busyness and make time for Him and take my pressures and pains to Him.

May you given good hope...and be encouraged. By the One who gives these good gifts to His children and friends. And who rescues us...over...and...over again



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