Is Fear Okay?

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My walk this morning was interrupted by a police car and two ladies up the road.  The cop drove down the hill in front of me and pulled into the driveway on my right, where the ladies were anxiously awaiting him.  I slowed my pace to see what was going on; the ladies greeted him and thanked him for coming.

Without wanting to be nosy and rude I kept walking up the hill, but checked over my shoulder a few times.  Something going on in my neighborhood?  Yes, I’d like to know about it!  The ladies pointed towards the wooded marsh behind the houses and informed the cop it was back there, whatever “it” was.

I pushed the stroller to the other side of the road, away from the woods.  My heart rate went up — it’s not just myself I have to look out for now.  What would I do if someone – or something – came out of the woods at Levi and me?

Often times I live in fear.  I worry about all the things that could go wrong, and I am fearful of all kinds of situations.  I panic easily and assume the worst.  For the rest of my walk around the neighborhood, I was mentally caught in two places.  I was constantly checking my surroundings, thinking through my game plan in case I had to defend myself and Levi.  Yet I was also working through the rationality of my fear, wondering what the right response would be.

There is a difference between being fearful and having wisdom and discernment to tell how to handle a situation.  Being cautious, careful, and prepared is wise and important.  But is it okay to fear?  Just yesterday my husband pointed out that the one thing Jesus most commanded us not to do was worry.  Do not be anxious, do not worry, do not fear.  In worrying and being fearful, we aren’t trusting He is in control and knows best.  But I wonder, is there a time for fear?  When a child is kidnapped, a wife abused, an elderly man watching cancer wreck his body — is fear ever rational or justified?

Fear has its place.  Many times the Bible talks about (and commands) the fear of the Lord, a holy reverence of Him and the understanding that He is all-powerful and just.  Fear of Him is certainly different than fear of man.  When it comes to fear of man and things in this world, the Bible commands against it.  Time and time again God tells His people not to fear; scroll through this search to find references and context.  We are to fear God, and not fear man.

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  Psalm 118:6

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’  So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?'”  Hebrews 13:5-6

Going back to the examples, however — the child and wife in danger, the man nearing death — is a scared fear irrational in situations like these?  In my Scripture-searching I’ve come across a passage I think answers this question.

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love Him because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:17-19, emphasis mine.

God is love (1 John 4:8), and in Him there is no fear.  Without Him, there is fear.  So in those tough situations, a scared fear is irrational for the believer because Christ casts out fear.  As Psalm 118 and Hebrews 13 say, what can man do to the believer?  Even torture and physical death aren’t the end; man can’t truly take life away from those whose faith is in Christ.

We can trust Him to everything, all things.  He is always in control, always all-knowing, and always just.  Fear lives in the unbeliever, but it is done away with as Christ perfects the believer.  What a freedom!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject — are there other angles or perspectives you’ve thought of that I didn’t mention?  Other significant verses?  Please feel free to leave a comment; the concept of fear and its place (or lack thereof) is a topic I’d love to understand better.  :)

The Most Earthly Good

Sharing this post again today, mostly to re-read it myself! The tug-of-war between desiring to live a Godly life and the craving to “fit in” in the world can be harsh and hard to manage. Ironically, the more we try to fit in the worse off we and those around us are!

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You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.”  The point being that as Christians, we don’t want to be so focused on Heaven and being holy that we aren’t of any help to those around us here on Earth.

Look through Colossians chapter three, and note verse two:

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

The chapter talks about being made new by Christ.  We no longer are in sin, but are made alive by Him.  Therefore, we are to set our minds on things above; focus on Him and becoming more like Him.  He is the one who molds us to be merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, bearing with each other, and forgiving; He makes us loving and gives us peace (3:12-15).  We put off our old self, the self that lived for sin and was far…

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Embracing Dependence

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It’s daunting, being a mother. I think back to the first night in the hospital, after the frightening and traumatic birth; the moment I realized just how much he needed me.

I can’t remember what hour of the night it was. I was mid-much-needed sleep and he was across from the foot of my bed in the little bassinet.  My husband was on the other side of the room, sound asleep on the couch.  The newborn screams woke me instantly and I panicked — I couldn’t get to him.

My body couldn’t move; every ounce of willpower doesn’t move abs that have been cut open.  I could start to wiggle my toes but my legs certainly weren’t going anywhere.  The anesthesia had yet to wear off.  I called for Josh.  He didn’t budge.  I called louder.  Still nothing.  I yelled — no movement.  After a few minutes of me trying to yell [and throw pillows] at my husband in between screams from my newborn, I let the tears loose and frantically searched for the button on my bed to call a nurse.  A nurse came, rolled the bassinet next to me, and helped me get my boy.

I can’t say I remember anything else about that night, only that panicked scene and coming to the realization that my baby was fully dependent on me.  No one else was going to satisfy him.  No one else could satisfy him.  It was all on me.

That realization still hits me hard some days.  There are things his daddy can do too, and he needs Josh just as much as he needs me.  Yet there are things Josh simply can’t do.

Some nights as I sit in the dark rocking my little one I think of the dependence he has on me and how sweet and special it is, how God saw fit to design moms and babies this way.  The baby grows inside and is nourished and strengthened by the mom – everything Mom takes in goes to Baby too.  This provision is carried on longer than nine months; after Baby is born, Mom still provides the food.  Baby is still dependent.  It’s a weight, a big burden to carry.  A stress if I let it be.  And really, terrifying.  But how precious at the same time; how incredible and what an honor.

(Please note, I understand not every mama-baby duo (or trio, etc.) functions this way – and that’s okay.  This is simply an illustration.)

This dependency is so strong and intense.  It’s a daunting honor to be entrusted with the life and well-being of a little human.  To have what my baby needs when he needs it.  I sit and watch him and wonder how the rest of his life will play out — if only I could always meet his needs so simply.

If only his cries could be satisfied with food or sleep; his diaper changed and body bathed and he’d be happy.  If his problems consisted of things I could diagnose and fix.  But it won’t always be this way.  There will be situations I can’t intrude on and problems I can’t fix.  There will be ups and downs and times of happiness and of sadness.  His dependence will not always be on me, nor on his dad.

Little by little he’ll grow and mature, taking on responsibilities and becoming more and more independent.  It’s a good thing; it’s supposed to happen this way.  Josh and I get to lead him and train him and let him go out from under our authority and guardianship.  We’ll always be his supporters, encouragers, and advice-givers — but the roles will change.

So for now, I want to embrace the dependence.  Even when the nights are long and my body is sore and tired.  The times I cry and wish someone else could just please do it for me.  The countless diapers, the painful screams, the demands I wish could wait five more minutes.  I want to embrace it all.

I want to be thankful that I get to be his mama, thankful that God equipped me to care for him even when I’m concerned I can’t.  To recognize the beauty in the simple things and not take them for granted.  Each day with my little boy is a gift I want to be grateful for.  God provides for both of us without fail.  He gave us each other, and He’s always faithful to sustain us.

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“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic.  It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”

-Erich Fromm

Our First Anniversary

To My Dear and Loving Husband
Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.

Thy love is such I can no way repay;

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.

Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,

That when we live no more we may live ever.

 

A little over a year ago, as a soon-to-be bride, I copied this poem down to give my soon-to-be-husband.  After we had said our vows, driven away, and let the day sink in, I handed it to him with a smile.  I have to smile now, too, reading over these words — they resonated then but they have much more meaning now.

What a year it’s been.  We’ve moved a couple times, changed jobs, traveled abroad, and had a sweet little baby.  There have been ups and downs, of course; as any married person would say, it isn’t a cakewalk.  Yet the challenges we’ve faced and the struggles we’ve had have only served to increase our love for each other.

Josh, I adore you.  You’re humble, sacrificial, and patient — thank you.  You’re servant-hearted, kind, and tender.  You comfort me when I face my own struggles, and you let me encourage you with yours.  I love seeing you on the couch with your Bible every morning, before the rush of the day begins.  You remind me in simple ways that this life is bigger than us, yet the day-to-day we have is still such a gift.  Thank you.

This next year, I pray we continue to grow and learn together.  To serve each other and understand each other better.  I pray we each fall more in love with our Savior, and encourage each other to do so.  I’m so, so grateful for you and your friendship.  You’re the one I want to do life with; what a privilege it is.

Happy first anniversary, Joshua.  I love you.

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Dear Child

These fleeting, precious moments

I get to watch you sleep

It’s quiet, dark and peaceful

You’ve been resting a while

My list to do is only somewhat done

I’d rather lay down right beside you

Watch your chest rise and fall

Smell your soft little head

Hear your short breaths, in and out

Memorize your tiny, intricate features

Listen to your murmurs and noises

I’d kiss you and hold you all day if I could

You’re perfect, how God wanted you to be

Every crevice, every hair

Every movement and wiggle

You’re the sweetest, little one

You’re God’s bundle of miracle

I’m thankful, so grateful

I love you, dear child

Blog Update

Friends,

Hello again!  Over four years ago I started this blog, as I was beginning my travels to Belize.  So much has changed and happened since then — thank you for sticking around and reading the few posts I’ve published!  As you may know, I got married last year to a wonderful man and we welcomed our son into the world just a few months ago.  We’ll be celebrating our one-year anniversary on Monday; what a year it’s been!

In all the changes and adjustments over the last couple years, I let go of writing and posting on my blog.  The death of one of my biggest supporters, my grandfather, hit me hard and I found writing to be too difficult.  But, as time has passed and God has helped me heal, I’m going to pick the pen (and camera!) back up and keep documenting.

My ultimate goal with this blog is the same as it was from the start, which I realize I may not have actually shared with you.  “Threads of Glory” — it’s a means of documenting God’s goodness and giving Him glory in all situations.  Finding the threads of His grace woven throughout every part of our lives; the threads that bring Him glory.

Through this blog, I want to encourage you to seek God and to know Him more.  To see His goodness, to know His love for you.  I pray the words I share, whether they’re mine or someone else’s, will point you to Christ and cause you to give Him glory.

Thank you for following along!

Amy

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Yearning for God in the Midst of Distress

As the deer pants for the water brooks,

So pants my soul 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 continually say to me,

“Where is your God?”

When I remember these things,

I pour out my soul within me.

For I used to go with the multitude;

I went with them to the house of God,

With the voice of joy and praise,

With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul?

And why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him

For the help of His countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me;

Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,

And from the heights of Hermon,

From the Hill Mizar.

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;

All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,

And in the night His song shall be with me —

A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,

“Why have You forgotten me?

Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As with a breaking of my bones,

My enemies reproach me,

While they say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul?

And why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God;

For I shall yet praise Him.

The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42

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When the world seems like it’s spinning out of control, we have a hope.  When people are being killed, justly and unjustly, we have a hope.  When things look bleak and we wonder if our city will be next for atrocities, we have a hope.

Nothing has happened, is happening, or will happen outside of God’s knowledge.  He knows it all and He is always comforting, always healing, always steady.  We have a hope in Him, our Rock and our Redeemer.

When people ask you, Christian, “Where is your God?” — give them the hope that you have.  He is still God, and He is still sovereign.  He sees the evil but He Himself is good.  As you turn to Him, seeking His peace, comfort, and truth, you help those around you see that there IS hope.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  Micah 6:8

Put the majority of your energy into knowing Him better and making Him known.  Be gracious, be a good listener, be willing to hear what people have to say.  Know the truth and live justly.  We don’t fight against flesh and blood, friends; there is a much bigger picture that we are a part of (Ephesians 6:12).  Live today with that in mind.