Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fear Cripples; Love frees

Fear . . . perhaps it is going to be my biggest obstacle to overcome during this year of Jubilee.  It has been my constant companion for so long.  Usually it's just a subtle, nagging, recurring thought that I am somehow not good enough, not measuring up to some standard that, in my mind, everyone else seems to measure up to.  But sometimes it's not so subtle; sometimes, it screams.  Sometimes it tells me that if you really knew me, you would not find anything loveable about me, nothing of value.  Even as I write this, there is the fear that says "You are a basketcase. No one else is ever going to be able to identify with this."
But my year of Jubilee is about facing my fears, hearing God's voice, and sharing what I hear from Him with others who He puts in my path.
Back in May, I wrote the following during a journaling exercise with my writer's group:
"As I rush into the sanctuary a few minutes late, downing the last sip of my morning caffeine, something prompts me to slow down for a minute.  I hate being late, I hate missing even a minute of worship, but I deliberately slow my pace and ask You to please speak to me this morning. Really, what I should have prayed was that I would hear You, because I know You are always speaking to me.  I smile to myself . . . why don't I remember to pray these words every morning . . . "Lord, I know You are speaking. Help me to hear you." (In other words, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Mark 9:24)
As I settle into my seat, these words are being sung: "You are peace, You are peace, when my fear is crippling."  Tears form in my eyes, threatening to spill over.  You have already answered my prayer and it is not even 5 minutes into the service. 
"You are peace when my fear is crippling".  I see a picture in my mind of someone who is crippled.  Everything is more difficult for them.  Even the simplest tasks take an inordinate amount of time.  There is so much they cannot do.  I hear You gently whisper:  "That is what you are allowing fear to do to you, my Daughter.  It interferes with everything you do.  It slows you down.  It prevents you from experiencing the abundant life I have for you, prevents you from using the gifts I have given you, and it holds you captive in a place where it is difficult for you to experience My love."

Part of the adventure of my year of Jubilee is going to be refusing to let fear cripple me anymore.  This is a moment by moment choice for me.  The voices of fear and condemnation are always perched at the doorway of my mind, waiting for the slightest crack that would allow them to enter.  But God's voice is louder, and stronger, and by His grace, I am learning to listen.  Here is what He says:  "I am calling you to lay down your fear.  Let me heal you from its crippling disease.  My perfect Love casts out fear."
I John 4:17-18 in The Message version of the Bible says it this way:  "God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day -- our standing in the world is identical with Christ's.  There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life -- fear of death, fear of judgment -- is one not yet fully formed in love.  We, though, are going to love --  love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love.  He loved us first."
I am so thankful that He loves me and that His love, well-formed in me, will banish every fear.  I am in awe of that kind of love.