Do you ever ask God why you're afraid?
That was the question He asked me to ask Him some years ago. Bob Hartley issued the challenge: when was the last time you asked Him the question He was asking you to ask Him?
I asked Him and He said, "I want you to ask Me why you're so afraid."
What do you do when you're afraid? Joshua 1:9 reads, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
WE have the mind of Christ. We. I used to think it was the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter, the glory of a king to search it out. I got a nudge and re-read it. It isn't "A" king. It is Kings: the royal we. Us.
I was with my cousin Ted last night in this greasy spoon after a couple hours on the water where we were trying to bid bass goodbye until Spring. And we were having one of those talks that just stays with you--one of those talks that is not only for you but you know it is somehow bigger, you just maybe can't see all the details yet. We have been having them since we were 8. We were having them thirty-five years and change ago when I got dropped off at his house so Pop could go to the hospital for my mom's first breast cancer surgery. I was too little to much understand, but Ted was there and that was what I needed.
I'm hilariously blessed to have friends in a variety of arenas I can run to when I'm scared or overwhelmed--or just feeling off or ALONE.
Because they've been there and we know each other and they're safe and I trust them and they trust me.
I sat with a young married man whose wife was going through her first cancer treatments and I said, "So, who are your friends--like, who will you turn to for your heart through all of this?"
And he sort of shrugged and looked down like he didn't really have any and he said, "I guess I don't really have anyone except for her."
And I was so impressed with his next question, "What would you do if you were me?"
What would you tell him?
The one to whom I belong who belongs to me touched on it so poignantly in her post today:
Ted listened as I was describing some recent pain: the hard bench outside the divorce courtroom ducking the flying emotional debris of somebody's too-long-imploding marriage; a long-held insecurity and the roots I'm tracking; yet another old friend who said in response to my how are you doing, "Not too good. We're getting divorced. He wants the one thing I can't give him: to be twenty-five again."
I had tears in my eyes for really no reason except for being so grateful he was there to hear me and to share his heart with me: having been where I was. Being known is a big deal.
There is a fine line between fear, disappointment and self-pity and Rangers, we were not designed to do this thing alone.
Hebrews 10:23-25 reads, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near."
One of the greatest lies the enemy perpetrates against us is isolating us in our pains, fears and sorrows. It is sins own breeding ground.
"They're sharing a drink they call loneliness...But it is better than drinking alone." B. Joel
One of my most trusteds from the thought life says (and I confuse them in my brains but the gist is here)--
Depressed people are trying to deal with their sadness
Compulsive people are trying to deal with their anxiety
Controlling people are trying to deal with their fear
Angry people are trying to deal with their hurt
So last year I had this picture in the middle of the night of our Jack. He had come into our room the night before with a snake bad dream. And it reminded me of when that used to happen with York, I was like, well, buddy it was a dream, there are no snakes in your bed, you're all good, I'm tired, go back to bed in Jesus' name. And he would go stew in his own juices and come back a few minutes later and on and on. I was trying to give him what I thought he needed: the: `duh, it was a dream now f'real let me sleep' talk.
And I was sharing the nightmare thing with one of my short-list trusteds and she told me the story of her nephew who was utterly flipped out over the tornado that hit Huntsville.
And his dad was like, buddy: storm has passed, go outside, seriously--this shiz is getting ridiculous. The kid wouldn't go outside anymore, even on a clear day.
But when he started explaining it to his Aunt, she just sat down on the floor next to him and said, "Wow, buddy--I bet that was really scary. I know what it is like to feel really scared and alone."
She said the relief she saw on his face was palpable.
And he kind of nodded at her and teared up a little and he said, "Yeah, it was."
She just sat with him for awhile.
Storm terrors couldn't stay. Perfect love casts out all fear. I think in that place, perfect just means "the love that fits".
His Aunt really just said, I see and I care and me, too, once upon a time and ohyeah! you're not alone. No facts, no reasons, no logic. Just the comfort of knowing someone "got it".
Trying to sort out just what was going on with us, we took a road trip to the Int'l House of Prayer in KC: we packed up the when-they-were-littlers and rolled down I-35. My sister had a pal who lived close to the IHOP campus and stopped there for lunch.
We were doing what we knew to do, what in fact we'd done a lot over the years that had worked brilliantly yet seemingly nothing would fall right. Some of you may know what I'm talking about. In commission work, we get paid when transactions transact and they weren't and we weren't and it was getting for the budget-conscious, scary.
This book, The God of All Comfort was a huge key to rediscovering His heart for us during that season: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/smith_hw/comfort.pdf
The trees in Northern California are some of the oldest and strongest on the planet: because high above the Pacific Coast Highway, the ocean winds are ridiculously strong and near constant off the ocean so their root system goes beyond deep because they are used to taking breeze-beatings. We knew how they felt and it really blew.
You feel like you're in trouble and you feel like you're missing it and you feel like you're part of the problem. You feel like God is mad and deaf and mean and probably kind of a T-Rex.
But the more painful and honest truth is: you don't yet trust Him, you still mostly trust how you're doing to your checkbook--or at least that's where I was. And so He is shaking what needs to be shaken, like our woodful friends high above the PCH: good news, right?
So--What did you pray--do you remember? I have the benefit of hindsight: in journals. I know what I prayed. And He was answering my prayer, sneaky Deity.
God: I want to love You with my whole heart!!! God, I want to trust You with all my heart!! God, help me not to lean on my own understanding!!! God, help me to hear You! (I can hear Graham Cooke's English accent: "God, I just need to hear you right now! Please, just speak to me. Lord, where are You? Long pause, God says, lovingly: Shut up so you can hear, child)
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Discipline and disciple come from the same root system: learning.
Really the fastest shortcut to get us on our knees is not seeing your immediate future very brightly: for us on that drive it was a dough issue.
One of my father's very favorite phrases was `have you got the dough and are you ready to go?' The answer for us at that time for us, was, well, no.
And you do--you feel so stupid, like: didn't we used to be pretty flush? Like, hey, global commercial real estate economy: what happened? Hey, God, why are You so bummed out at me? Doesn't Scripture say You are our Provider? Geesh--can you get Lee Iacocca to stop calling about the Jeep payment, already?
So, we pull into KC for lunch and our hostess offers me a Green Apple Jones Soda. Divine!
Funny how you forget some small things; but not the huge small things.
I don't know of too many feelings like the old, ru-roh, Lord? Too much month here, Fella.
My fiscal strategy had always been; be good for the economy: spend more/make more/repeat.
The Word talks about becoming Rich towards God. So we are literally going to the House of Prayer to just ask Him--really, what's happening with us? Where did we miss it?
So before we even walk into the House of Prayer our friend hands me this Jones Green Apple soda and its cap reads:
It is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. We almost turned around with our answer before we even went inside the House of Prayer. Today, I know the pilgrimage to Houses of Prayer can be magic thinking. But God meets us where we are and where we are headed.
He is my Friend. Holy Spirit is a phenomenal Fun Friend and constant Comfort.
Sometimes I used to struggle with how to introduce the idea of my Jesus to people. But today, He is a Person. He is real. He is my friend. He isn't pushy and He introduces Himself in a thousand quiet ways over a lifetime. More than anyone, He is trustworthy.
Last night, He was my Dear Friend in my dear friend, Ted.
Which friend does He want to BeFriend through you?