DO NOT FEAR... and other words about listening to God
Dear ones, I woke up this morning wanting to go back to sleep.
Ever have those days?
It’s a rare feeling for me, an inveterate morning person. As I lay there wondering what in the world was wrong with me, I sensed that whispered truth from the One who knows me better than I know myself.
I knew His words to be true, though it hadn’t dawned on me all through the restless night. And hearing Him, I felt that instant relief I’ve come to recognize as my soul’s visceral response to His words to me.
The fear had to do with my plans for the morning. After months of writing and years of living my story, I’ve finally got it all on paper. For the past several weeks an editor has been waving her magic wand over my words, asking me questions, filling in gaps, challenging my assertions, making sure I am writing true and getting the story right.
Waiting for me on my desk is the final edit.
And I am scared. Nervous. Worried.
Feeling once again those all too familiar feelings of not-enoughness.
The inadequacy that has haunted every step of writing my story kept me bound to my bed this morning instead of bouncing out to my writing cabin with joy.
I pulled myself out from under the covers, made a pot of tea, and sat by the fire Phil had made, eyeing my cabin out the window with dread.
Since my Bible was waiting by the backdoor instead of in its usual place by my chair in my cabin under the trees, I settled in to the safety of this place where I never write.
I sat in Phil’s chair. Sipped tea, and waited.
No words, more dread.
I’ll just spend this day wrapping. I need to wrap, after all. I’ll get to my book later.
Relief… sort of.
Opening my Bible on my way to where I left off the day before, my eyes caught these title words: Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man.
My heart froze.
That’s me! I am that paralyzed man. Paralyzed by fear, haunted by feelings of inadequacy, knowing deep down that I’m not good enough, smart enough, responsible enough. Convinced that I have failed again to meet my own standards of perfection. I am hog-tied by that knowing that I am not as good as I wish I was— at anything.
I read the story. No, that’s not right...
I inhaled the story.
It’s that story I have been drawn to over and over again. I’ve taught on it, written about it, researched words and deciphered my way through dusty tombs written by men with strings of letters after their names.
But this time I did what I’ve been doing a lot lately; I followed the rabbit trails of references the translators leave behind.
I wanted to know more of what Jesus meant when he said to the man: “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mt. 9v2 NIV)
The trail led me first to these words: “…in this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16v33 NIV)
Take heart. I have overcome your trouble.
Ah… peace chasing fear away.
His peace. Given as a gift through His words…
His words to me, the fear prone daughter of Royalty. The one who forgets that she’s not alone- never alone.
This child of His, whose soul struggles to get it right. To believe. To fully entrust every bit of me to Him.
But it gets better, this listening.
The reference trail led me, strangely enough, to Romans:
“… in all these things you are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8v37 NIV)
Oh yes! I forgot! Again…
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!
That’s why I’m afraid, because I’m stuck back in that thinking, that wrong thinking, that my story is about me.
Sure, it’s my story… but the truth is, my story is all about Him— what He did, how He speaks, how He is teaching me to hear.
And, my dear anxious ones…
Your story isn’t about you either.
Your story is all about Jesus engulfing you in His great love and hiding you there.
Your story, and mine too, is about how in all things…
“God works for the good of those who love Him,
who have been called according to His purpose.
For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…
and those He predestined He also called;
those He called,
He also justified;
those He justified,
He also glorified.”
(Romans 8v28,29 NIV)
He also glorified.
Once again that heart-halting sense of His speaking to me, through me, for me.
What? Lord, isn’t it me who is supposed to be glorifying You?
Yes. That’s right.
What am I missing? Why is my heart beating wildly at this thought? Could it be true that You want to glorify me? That’s crazy!
And I’m laughing now because I know it’s true! I feel His smile, that chuckle of the One who so persistently leads us into truth.
And here it is, all unwrapped:
When I tuck myself into Him. Purposely listening, yielding, obeying, wanting His truth to be the truest truth— He actually glorifies me.
In Him I am better than I am.
In Him I am freed to be who He designed me to be.
In Him I am adequate.
Paul’s words in I Corinthians break through to add octane to my wonder:
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”
(I Corinthians 3v4,5 NASB)
Which means that, Lord…
My adequacy is from You.
Smile. Joy. Wonder. A gift so lavish I cannot get over it.
And then I scurried to write it all down for you, my dear ones. To remind you again, all of you who are haunted by fears, hunted by an enemy whose fiery arrows (“flaming missiles” in the NASB) sting and wound and threaten to relegate you to the injured list, that…
Hid in Him you are enough!
That, in fact, He wants to use you to tell His story to a whole world that doesn’t yet know that it is Him— Jesus— they are craving as they spend their moments and their money accumulating.
This is what I mean when I talk about listening to God.
When I say that He speaks in the silence. He does! He really does!
From one who is learning to hear and wanting you to know,
P.S. Read it for yourself in Matthew 9v1-8, then again in Mark 2v3-12 and then get the details in Luke 5v18-26.