April 21, 2008

Just a Story?

I once heard of a man - maybe he was a pastor - who had a difficult time leading his people. Admittedly, some of it was his fault. Being assertive and thrusting his ideas on others just wasn't his way. And when it came to confrontation, that was an even bigger hurdle to jump over. And slowly, over time, many of his people grew tired, weary, and restless...from waiting...waiting for him to lead.

And then one day, alongside others who had captured the quiet vision he had awakened to over time, he came to his people and said, "I'm ready. After months (if not years) of laboring in thought, counsel, and prayer, I feel confident I know where God is leading us and how He desires us to get there." It was almost unbelievable.

Hearing this, many of the people came up with questions, doubts, concerns - how will this effect us? Where do I fit in to all of this? And the man was ready - ready to answer and assure them that not one would be left out, left behind, or forgotten. After initial reservation, the people said, "We'll follow". It was glorious. For awhile.

Something happened. Not long after this, many of the people had forgotten the commitment they had made - they forgot the reasons why the man had said, "We must take this road." Many of them began to remember the way it was, and began to think, "What's in this for me?" And there it was...exposed. The question...the sentiment...the poison that began to kill the people. "What's in this for me?" A dagger that so many of them thought they were thrusting into the heart of the man, but in actuality, they were driving through their own souls - purchasing for themselves a slow death at their own hand. It was almost too painful to watch. Didn't the people want the man to lead? Didn't they spend years of tears and turmoil demanding that he step up to the plate, dig in heart & soul, and lead the people? And then when it finally happens, those demanding a leader...refuse to be led.

Have you heard this story? Have you ever seen anything like this actually play out in real life, wondering all the while how it will end? What will become of the people? Will anyone ever follow the man? Does any of this sound familiar?

I think I heard this story before. Not sure when or where or who told it to me. But I'm glad it's just a story.

April 14, 2008

Facing My Fear

Fear. It's a powerful thing. It can grip our will and completely paralyze our life. It hits us all at different times for different reasons. And if we allow it, it will take control. As a child of God, we can't allow this to happen.

As I'm learning more every day, courage is NOT the absence of fear, but the willingness to face my fear...and act anyways. As Mark Batterson says in In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day, it's the determination to "do what's right regardless of the circumstance or consequence." I want to have courage. Don't you?

In posing the question to others, "What are you afraid of?", I've had to ask myself the same question. In searching my heart over this one I've come to the conclusion that the fear that seems to grip me the most is this fear of something happening to my children. Even though most people - especially those with children - would sympathize with this sentiment, I'm not satisfied with just allowing myself this very vague excuse for inner trembling. I've been trying to figure this out - what is it exactly that I'm afraid of when it comes to my kids? I think I'm beginning to put my finger on it.

First of all, I'm afraid of my children not knowing the One who created them, redeems them, and longs to be known by them. Even though I say I trust God's promises in this regard, I start to doubt them deep down. And I am also afraid that if something happened to me, my children won't know who I am - that they would not know who I was or how much I loved them or their Mom. I guess it's a fear of being forgotten. I know, it sounds pathetic and sad...but that's what it looks like in the dark caverns of our closets sometimes.

So, what do I do to remedy this? Is there something I can do to fight this fear? Well, it may not sound like much, but I've found one outlet to wage war and courageously fight. I've started a journal. This journal is used for me to tell my kids about the magnificence and faithfulness of God; to tell them about who I am, what I believe, and how much I love them. I find myself writing down things that they've said and done that I know they won't remember when they're older. And one day, either because I decide the time is right or because (by default) my exit from this world makes the determination for me, my 2 children will be given this sporatic, yet heartfelt account of all things their Dad deemed important enough to tell them.

Again I ask, "What are you afraid of?" Failure? Financial misfortune? Cancer? Losing the one you love most? Could we possibly list all the possibilities? Probably not. But if you're truly willing to ask yourself the question, God will most certainly reveal the answer to you. And if you so choose, you can admit it...FACE it...and overcome it. That, my friend, is courage.

Dig Deeper
2 Timothy 1:7
Daniel 3
Psalm 34:1-9