Facing My Fears

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This is me. Posing for the camera, teeth chattering, and biting my nails. It’s just a pose. So you can get a picture of what I look like afraid.

Actually, it’s not a good picture. It’s just for show. It’s pretend. Cause what I’m really feeling right now is a mixture of fear, excitement, anticipation, amazement, and I don’t know if you can understand this one, but it comes to me in waves…P.A.N.I.C.

Yes, in the midst of all that positive energy is some really pitiful stuff.

Please don’t judge me.

A few years ago I spoke to a group of women with a message from the story of Gideon. You can read the story for yourself in Judges 6 and 7. In fact, I encourage you to read it. I want you to read it. You need to read it. Just sayin’…

Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, under a tree, hiding in fear from the terrifying Midianites who were oppressing God’s people. One of the ways they instilled fear was to swoop down and steal the Israelite’s food the minute it was harvested. Yep, for all their power and strength, they couldn’t even thresh the wheat for themselves. They preyed on the children of God by watching them do all the work and stealing the fruit of their labor. Can I hear a “Not fair, Lord, not fair!” 

Scripture tells us that The Angel of the Lord came to Gideon as he was threshing wheat. Most scholars agree that this was the pre-incarnate Christ. It was Jesus Himself who came down to give Gideon some much-needed encouragement. God had heard the cries of His people and had chosen Gideon to deliver them from oppression. It was the farthest thing from Gideon’s mind at the time. I’m sure he had done his fair share of crying out, but never in a million years did he stop to think that God would raise him up to lead an army, carry a sword, and fight some battles.

I love that God came down. Not to the strongest man in Israel. Not to the wealthiest. Not to the one with the most prestige and status, but to a man so afraid he was in hiding, threshing wheat where grapes were pressed for wine, trying to throw his enemy off track by keeping what little harvest he had a secret.

God met Gideon where he was. In all his fear and insecurity and weakness. And, yet, the Angel still called Gideon a mighty warrior!

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  (Judges 6:12)

Oh, my shivering soul! Oh, my racing heart! Oh, how I love that God saw Gideon not for what he was at the moment of encounter, but for what he would become!

Can I hear an “Amen,” please?!?

God didn’t see Gideon as a coward. God saw a man of courage.

I needed to revisit this story today. I needed to reread my notes. Because sometimes I feel just like Gideon. Small. Insignificant. Definitely not the strongest of the strong and certainly not the wealthiest. Yet, God has called me to ‘go in the strength (I) have.’ Because tomorrow I fly out to California, all by my lonesome, to share a message with some very Jesus-loving women who live in Glendora. Like Gideon, I’ve often found myself questioning God and making excuses, “But who am I? I am the least. I am the weakest.” (Like I said earlier, please don’t judge.)

But, you know what I love about an encounter with The Almighty? I can take all my fears and weaknesses and insecurities to Him and He does the most amazing thing. He changes my perspective. Just like He did for Gideon.

God graciously made Himself known to Gideon. The Lord who is strength Himself gave Gideon a pep talk. Charged him up real good, too! And He gave Gideon a few promises, “The Lord is with you…I am sending you…go in the strength I give you…peace to you…fear not…”

And this encounter changed Gideon’s life forever. He understood where the answers lie to that age-old question, Who am I?, that plagues us all when God asks us to step out of our comfort zones and face our fears…

…he finally realized that even though he battled fear of monumental proportions, God would empower him with courage, strength, and might.

…he finally understood that even though he had no previous experience as a leader, God would equip him with wisdom, discernment, and counsel to rally an army.

…he finally grasped that even though he felt weak and insignificant, God would enable him to see himself as a vessel, an instrument, and a man of great value.

I think the encouragement of God comes to all of us when we hear His call to “Go.” Like Gideon, we come to see that it’s never about us. It’s never about me. It’s always unquestionably, undeniably, unmistakably all about Him. When we realize we have nothing to offer in and of our own then we’re in a good place for God to use us.

And sometimes…most of the time…alright, all of the time…for me, it means I just gotta “Go” scared. Because it’s in my teeth-chattering-biting-nails-racing-heart-shivering-kinda-fear that I am completely, wholely, and absolutely dependent upon God. Like Gideon, I can face my fear head-on because I have the certainty that He is with me…He is sending me…He is strengthening me…He gives me peace.

When the question Who am I? taunts me like a pounding drum keeping in time with my racing heart I answer,

I am a mighty warrior, thank you very much!

It Was One Of Those Days-Part 1!

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I. Am. Pooped.

Sometimes I’m “too pooped to pop.”

Simply put…sometimes I’m a little more than just plain tired. I don’t know, maybe this term is vulgar to some, but I remember my Mom saying it when I was growing up. I’ve always thought it was kinda funny and it makes me giggle. It helps me down-grade the blahs and lighten up days when skies look kinda gray.

I started a new job a couple of months ago working part-time for the same chain of grocery retail stores where my husband is a co-manager. I unpack boxes and stock shelves on Thursdays, sometimes Fridays, too. I feel the need to remind you that I’m 57 years old.

In the past year, I’ve taken on some other roles, both in the church and in my local community, that have kept me busier than I’ve been in the last 8 years since we moved to our tiny town in North Carolina. Some mornings I wake up and I can’t remember what day it is. I have to lie in bed for a few seconds and think about it. Please tell me some of you have this problem, too. Yes?

No? Alrighty then. Moving on…

I remember being so physically and mentally exhausted a few weeks ago after working a nearly 10-hour day that when I punched the clock and got in my car I started to cry…”Lord, what am I doing here? How long can I possibly work like this?”

Don’t get me wrong…I love to work. I actually like to work hard. I believe God created us to work. After all, He put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and care for it and Paul mentions in his New Testament letters that he didn’t rely on others to provide for him but chose to work at his skill as a tentmaker to provide for himself. I decided early on when I first began working grocery retail that I would pretend I was going to the gym to work out.

(Since hitting my mid-century birthday, I’ve come to realize the importance of keeping my temple clean. Let’s face it, the older we get, the harder it is to keep off the unwanted weight and the extra pounds. I try to walk as part of my fitness routine, but I’ve also had to make a lot of dietary changes.)

My work is pretty physical. Between climbing up and down a 6-foot ladder to reach the top of a mountain of stacked boxes, loading them on carts out to the floor then unpacking them, lifting, carrying, bending, stooping, reaching, rearranging, blah, blah, blah…you get the picture…I am literally pooped at the end of the day.

Anyway, back to that 10-hour day when I was so tired I couldn’t help but cry…not only had I hit my funny bone that day on a metal shelf (I actually danced in the aisle, rubbing my elbow, with tears streaming down my face), but I also smashed the middle finger of my right hand, drew blood on my left forearm breaking down a cardboard box, and THEN….the icing on the cake was banging my head on a wire bracket sticking out from the wall that I didn’t see because I have no vision on my left side. I had to hold a paper towel to my head for 5 minutes to stop the bleeding. After that, came the pounding headache. My head was sore for days after.

But, here’s the thing…when I left work that night at 8:00 with a downcast soul, God gave me the most beautiful gift. I drove down country roads with my eyes on the most amazing sunset. At 8:15 I actually pulled over into a farmer’s field of soy beans, parked the car and snapped a sweet picture as a reminder of the goodness of God.

When every muscle in my body was screaming at me, God. Enouraged. Me. He reminded me,

He keeps me and sustains me.

He lifts me up and makes me strong.

He is the lifter of my head.

He never, never leaves me.

He gives me everything I need to carry on, day after day after day, no matter what I’m doing, no matter where I’m going, no matter who I’m gracing.

Not only does He paint the skies, but He colors my whole world, even when I feel all gray and washed out.

When I’m having one of those days God gets right in the middle of it and even in busy seasons when one day seems to run right into another I know each day is a gift. We don’t know the impact we have when we learn to appreciate the length of our days. To think of a difficult day as meaningless and purposeless is to lose sight of the gift. To live as though my life is short in light of an eternity with God is to keep a proper perspective and cherish each day as priceless.

So, when I’m having one of those days, I want to be the kind of person who says to God,

“Teach me to number my days, that I may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

And then, when I least expect it, He will give me a prize…like a sunset.

And I am no longer pooped.

I am renewed.