Love Drives Fear Away {Wrapping up the No Fear Study}


So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

I’ve needed to know that God sees me. That His promises are worth waiting for. That He loves and chooses me. That the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ve reminded myself over and over that He is with me, no matter what happens. And I am still reminding myself that sonship (my belonging to God as His daughter) may be the antidote to fear.

The changes in our life aren’t over, but I’m learning to embrace even the scary parts. The things I fear open a door for me to wrap God’s good words around me like a blanket, to run to the truth like a fortress, to put God’s promises on like shoes and walk in them.Especially the best and most beautiful promise of all, the love of God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

So much in our lives tempts us to look at obstacles, at our lack, at the things we fear. And God invites us to look to Him, to look to love.
How do you fight fear with the knowledge of God’s love?

What would it take to for us to be so sure of God’s love of us that His love would drown out our fears?

This post is the last in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. You can read all of the posts in the series hereIf this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!


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Love Drives Fear Away {Wrapping up the No Fear Study}

So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

Continue reading

When Fear is Good {No Fear Devotional}

Over the last 5 months of Tuesdays we’ve looked at the various places where God commands His people, “Do not fear”, and seen reason after reason why we as people of God have no need to be afraid. Precious promises:

God is a shield to us. He sees us. The Lord will fight for us while we stay silent. He is with us,  at our side. The Lord is our shepherd. God has called us by name, we are His. We’ve been given the spirit of adoption, not the spirit of fear. He is our Helper.

With those reasons and promises not to fear, God also gives us a call and command to fear.

Continue reading

What is Fear Costing Us?

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)

I have known the Lord as my helper for years, but I am still afraid.

What will man do to me? Well, for starters, man doesn’t always approve of me. Sometimes man rejects me. When I succeed or fail, man watches and judges my worth or value.

Or so I think. I’m beginning to suspect that others think far less often of me than I might guess, everyone’s thoughts being as centered around themselves as mine are around me.

And the more I study fear – in the Bible and in real life – the more I see that fear is a trap, particularly for those who say they trust God.

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. (Proverbs 29:25)

There is no telling how much hurt and heartache the Christian Church has caused because we have feared man more than God. I don’t want to be a part of that mess. The writer of Hebrews calls across the centuries,

Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6)

The same fear that has driven God’s people in history and right now, drives me.

Let love of the brethren continue…

I feel called to love as Jesus loves, but some within my Christian community and even family think I’m taking it too far. Accepting people and things that are unacceptable. I’m too touchy feely, I’m not safeguarding the Gospel, I’m not defending God’s Word.

Will I love anyway?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers… Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. 

I read about immigration and the racial biases implanted in our justice system, and my heart breaks. If I speak publicly about this, it’s seen as political, not befitting my position, I’ve “gone liberal.” Will I show hospitality and remember prisoners (and work to right these wrongs) anyway?

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…

Ouch. This one hits close to home. Is my character free from the love of money? What role does fear play in my spending habits, in my debts, in my lifestyle choices, in the difference between what I spend on myself and what I give in generosity to others? What role does fear play in my willing participation in the over consumption embedded in our culture, to the harm of the earth and my fellow humans? How much does the love of money affect my politics, the issues I care most about? Is contentment or comfort my driving goal?

I want to love the brethren, welcome outsiders, stand with those who are mistreated and imprisoned. I want to continue to honor my marriage, and I badly want to be free from the love of money, to find real contentment. HOW?

… for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”  so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraidWhat will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1-6)

The voice of fear is loud. But Jesus Himself says He is with me. Do I believe Him?


 

This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. Check back every Tuesday for the latest, and you can read the previous posts in the series here.

If this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!


Photo in image by Apostolhs Gkoutzidhs on Unsplash

The Opposite of Fear is…

A few years ago we made the decision to move from homeschooling our younger two sons and sent them to school, 3rd grade and kindergarten. This was a rough transition for both of them, but particularly (and understandably) for our 3rd grader. Like his mama, he was afraid of failing, of standing out, of doing something wrong. He mourned for the safety of home, even when what he really needed was the risk and reward of the big wide world.

We talked to him nonstop about bravery, “Be brave!”, “You’re so brave!”, “You can be brave!” I’m embarrassed to think about how frustrated we got with him when he refused to be brave, especially considering my own wealth of personal experience in this area.

When has telling myself to be brave EVER helped me be less afraid??

Answer: Never. It has never helped me.

I should have known that courage is not the opposite of fear. Courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.

So what is the opposite of fear?

As I’ve studied verses from the Bible about fear, I think I’ve found if not THE answer, then at least AN answer. Continue reading

Desperate for God

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 

You’re probably familiar with the opening of Psalm 42: It covers the walls of Christian bookstores, often printed on a peaceful picture of a sweet fawn tenderly approaching a quiet stream. Lovely.

But that’s not the picture the psalm is painting. Psalm 42 opens with desperation. Joel 1:20 uses the same word, “pant” describing animals when the brooks are dried up and the pastures devoured by fire.

Perhaps a better translation: “As a hunted deer, dying of thirst, pants for water, so my soul longs for You, O God.” But no one wants a picture of a dying deer hanging on their wall.

What is the deer dying for? What does the Psalmist want?

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

I am convinced that the Psalmist is not thirsting to know about God. The word for “living” is a nature word, living or alive in the sense that vegetation is green, water is fresh and flowing, humans are lively and active, springtime is reviving.

The psalmist is thirsty for life. He’s running to God, naming God as the source of life and liveliness.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. (Psalm 42:1-4)

Do you relate? Are you thirsty for God, perhaps even remembering a time when you praised Him and were more sure of His help?


Click here to read the rest of this post over at the EquipHer Blog, where I am  honored to write this week.

The One Thing that Helps Me Face Fear

Are worry, anxiety, and fear the same thing? I’ve never been a worrier, and hardly ever identify myself as anxious. But I’ve been afraid my whole life.

I’m afraid of failure.

I’m afraid of abandonment.

I’m super afraid of rejection.

I’m so afraid of embarrassment I don’t enjoy movies or shows with embarrassing characters (See also: I’ve never watched a full episode of The Office.)

I’m afraid of making wrong decisions, of being misunderstood,  of doing the wrong thing, of not being enough, of being too much.

My life, my decisions, my relationships, my ministry, have all been shaped by fear.

Fear calls me to live a safe life, a life as protected as possible from failure, abandonment, rejection, embarrassment.  But a life without risk is also a life without adventure, connection, love, and freedom.

Continue reading

3 simple ways for People of Faith to Avoid “Bad News Fatigue” {No Fear Devotional}

As part of my ongoing efforts to live life less tethered to my phone, last month I turned the notifications off on the News application on my phone.  Fringe benefit: Nearly instantly my mornings felt more peaceful. I don’t want to stick my head in the ground, but I also don’t want Google or Apple (or Facebook!) choosing what news I see. And over the last few years the news has proven a particularly unsuitable way to start peaceful days.


Before writing this, I popped into the news to check today’s headlines:

Zuckerberg testimony: Members of Congress grill Facebook CEO  (Washington Post)

Raid on Trump’s Lawyer Sought Records of Payments to Women (New York Times)

The Latest: Russian envoy says US has been warned on Syria (Washington Post)

And locally:

Man arrested following assault of two Lincoln Police officers

Officers defuse situation with man in Lincoln Wal-Mart threatening to shoot people (both from the Lincoln Journal Star)


In a world of bad news is it possible to not live a life of fear?

Is my only healthy choice to stick my head in the ground, never reading the news, refusing to engage in what’s going on in our country and the world?

I wasn’t expecting my study of “No Fear” verses to lead me to an answer to this question, but it did. Continue reading

The Last One chosen for the Team and Other Childhood Trauma {No Fear Devotional}

From my distress I called upon the LordThe Lord answered me and set me in a large place.
The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:5-9)

My grade school days taught me a life-long aversion to picking teams. There isn’t any situation in a standard PE curriculum for which I wouldn’t be the last one picked for the team. (Too bad we never chose teams for reading. Or making up stories. Or bossing around younger siblings.)

Through the years I’ve found myself in job searches which stirred up that “please pick me” feeling again. Is there anyone in the world who enjoys interviewing, attempting to sell themselves as the best candidate for a job?

In my pre-marriage days, I loved the independence singleness offered, along with the freedom to be fully available to friendships and serving my community. I did not love situations that required a partner, highlighting my “table of one” status, making me feel like the last kid chosen for the team, again.

Surely no one likes feeling unwanted, like the last one chosen?

As human as these feelings are, they are also a danger zone for me, leading as they do into the fear of man. My desire to be chosen quickly escalates into idolatry of the person in charge of choosing. I am easily fooled into giving human beings rights to my heart that belong to God alone.

I walk into a room, and feel like people are talking about me. I wonder if they like me, if anyone here wants to be my friend.

I watch a co-worker, whose areas of excellence overlap with my own, succeed. Rather than celebrating her success, I’m suddenly stuck on the sidelines, while she is chosen to play in the big game.

At work, decisions are being made that could affect my future. I feel threatened, attacked, unappreciated. I am convinced that my future and well-being are in the hands of people who care nothing for me.

I really wish life did not include so many situations that tempt me to believe that my value, my worth, my future, were things that other people get to decide for me.

What if these minor annoyances and major struggles are actually opportunities? Here I find a chance to live in the belief that I am not at all the last one standing, but in fact “chosen and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12).

Here I find an occasion for turning from my fear of man, taking back the right to name me as wanted, chosen, valued, protecting that privilege for my Maker God alone. God is FOR me.

In every situation that sends me back to that PE gym, feeling unchosen, unwanted, not good enough, I find the possibility to choose trusting God rather than trusting in man.

Pushed to the wall, I called to Godfrom the wide open spaces, he answered.
God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid; who would dare lay a hand on me?
God’s my strong champion; I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people;
Far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities.

(Psalm 118:5-9, The Message)

How about you? What makes you feel unwanted, unchosen? Do you find yourself trusting in human help, human favor, human solutions to your problems?

Be encouraged: The beautiful NO FEAR promise in Psalm 118 is bookended by an even more beautiful promise. Psalm 118 begins and ends with the words:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

The good Lord, full of everlasting lovingkindness, is for me. And for you. We will not fear.

This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. Check back every Tuesday, and read the previous posts in the series here. And If this resonated with you, feel free to share it using the link below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!

Picture used in image is by Kyle Fang on Unsplash

Eating Obstacles for Breakfast (No Fear)

Our No Fear study this week continues the story of Moses and the Isrealites, who saw the Lord fight for them, while they had only to be still. After crossing the Red Sea and experiencing the deliverance of the Lord, the Hebrews were ready to enter the land God promised Abraham generations before.

Standing at the brink of God’s promises, at the border of Canaan, the people decide to send 12 spies into the land, to prepare the nation for the battle ahead.

Ten spies return with terrible news:

They gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size… and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.  (Numbers 13: 32-33)

This report causes the people to despair. But there is a voice of hope. Two of the spies have an entirely different view of the land of promise.

Caleb and Joshua attempt to calm the people, assuring Moses that the people can indeed take the land as God has promised. As the people weep and wail, wishing they had died in Egypt, Joshua and Caleb beg the people to believe God’s promise.

This fascinates me: How can 12 people have the exact same experience and come to two entirely different conclusions?

The answer is perspective.

Ten spies see obstacles, barriers, giants. Their view of the obstacles is bigger than their view of God: And so they preach fear and fleeing.

Joshua and Caleb see the obstacles, but their view of God is bigger than anything they saw in the land. And so they preach faith. Hope. Trust.

Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;  and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.  If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:6-9)

Ten spies see giants. Joshua and Caleb see food, knowing that the obstacles we face by faith strengthen us.

Perspective is a choice.

What choice will we make? As we look to the unknown, to challenges, as we listen to the voices in our heads that cry “I CAN’T”, which is bigger? The challenge? The obstacle? The giants?

Or God?

Perspective is largely a function of focus. In photography, whatever is closest to the camera appears largest. I have a choice where I focus, and what I let be closest to me, as I picture challenges and things that make me afraid.

Is the challenge, the source of fear, standing between me and God?

Or am I looking at every challenge – like Joshua and Caleb – through the lens of a good God, who keeps His promises?

This is an important choice: It will lead us to be grasshoppers in our own eyes, or it will allow us to see obstacles as food for us. And if we’re leaders? It’s the difference between leading people to despair or encouraging them to faith. God WILL keep His promises. No fear.

 

Journaling Prompts:

What obstacles are you facing right now? What makes you feel like a grasshopper, and maybe like you’d be better off anywhere but here?

As a leader (in life, in your job, in your family), in what ways might you tend to focus on challenges and obstacles, letting them be bigger than God in your eyes and the eyes of those you lead? And how are you encouraged in your leadership by Caleb and Joshua’s example?

As you look to the future, things that make you feel fearful, what would it look like for you to see God as bigger than any obstacle or challenge?

Are you facing challenges that make you feel like a grasshopper? Look to Joshua and Caleb and learn to eat those obstacles for breakfast. (No Fear Devotional from reemeyer.com)

 

 

 

 


This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. If this resonated with you, check back every Tuesday, and read the previous posts in the series here.


Photo in cover images by Gouthaman Raveendran and Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash