Are You Afraid?


dsc_0096There’s a lot of fear pushing us around lately.

It’s the enemy’s way of controlling us. Keeping our focus off God and his greatness. Making us believe that God doesn’t mean what he says when he tells us he loves us and has good plans for our future. God doesn’t intend to harm us.

I believe that.

But what about people meaning harm? Vigilantes ravage cities stoking the fires of fear. News media headlines scream that this virus is out of control and coming for us next unless we stop singing in church and wear oxygen depriving masks everywhere while they neglect news about the decreasing death count. And everyone has opinions. A lot of them are political.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This is about unity. Forgiveness. Love one another.

You see, recently someone asked if people are afraid to talk about race. And that made me think.

Am I?

I’m not afraid of Covid or the brain sucking amoeba in Florida’s warm waters. (Sorry if you haven’t heard and now that’s given you one more thing to worry about–don’t worry. They say it’s not really a threat. At least not the same threat as the not-yet-a-threat of the new swine flu in China.)

But I AM afraid of not loving one another.

I’m afraid of talking about race because maybe I’ll offend without meaning to.

I’m afraid I’ll be unknowingly insensitive because I don’t have the same experiences.

I’m afraid that because I grew up in a wealthy, “white” neighborhood (I don’t even get why we call neighborhoods “white” or “black”), I’ll be seen as racist even though that is not my heart.

I honestly want to know what my black friends have experienced and how they feel about it, but I’m afraid to ask because I don’t know if they will feel like I”m prying or overstepping into a sacred world of their pain.

I see us all as people loved by God, so if I ask about race am I not now making a point of someone being black or some other ethnicity or culture rather than a person with uniquely good or painful experiences?

I want us all to live in unity, listening, understanding, having compassion for each other’s hurts without discriminating or judging.

And while I believe that through Jesus, that is possible, I’m afraid people are more interested in being offended or proving their point than they are about loving their neighbor.

God says that perfect love casts out fear. His love is the only love that’s perfect. I don’t fear him. I’m grateful for his love. If I let him love me, can I love others enough to make them not afraid? Can I stop being afraid and instead be quick to listen and slow to share my opinion? Can I speak truth in love with grace and patience, willing to put myself in someone else’s shoes so I can show compassion?

Can we look for the why behind someone’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, and fears?

Maybe we can stop being afraid long enough to love one another.

Getting Well Series – How Do You Rebuild Your Life?


There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

Corinth, Greece
Corinth, Greece

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I think that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband for a time in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect “marriage ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives. He can make us well if we want to get well.

How is God rebuilding your life? Check out lostcompanion who is tenaciously rebuilding hers…