As I watched the weight of my pain being consumed by fire, the smoke burned my eyes and caused tears for the last time. This burden has been taken from me; you, Father God, have reached out and lifted it off my hunched shoulders. You have straightened my posture and allowed me to re-affix my gaze. You have given me beauty for these ashes. You are giving me strength for my fears. You do not take without giving; it is in your character. The weight of my pain burned before me and ascended as smoke into the heavens. Carried on the backs of angels, you received my pain. You held it in your hands, cradled it close to your heart. You released it; it became transformed into a beautiful creature. That beautiful creature is me.
This morning at church we sang a song called "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel. It hit me perfectly as I walk the path away from fear. The chorus is simple, "I'm no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God!" A perfect mantra for those moments when fear tries to take hold once again.
"I'm so sorry fear, but you do not live here anymore! While I am not new to being a child of God, I have decided to actually live out what I always knew to be true. So fear, you'll understand when I say that you may not stay here."
Today is the Jewish New Year, Rosh ha'Shanah. It is a time to remember that God's words are sweet. Psalm 119:103 says, "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth". As I reflect on this verse, I realize there can absolutely be no room in my heart for fear. God's promises are all I need to reside in my heart. They are a soothing balm for my soul. So, as I say L'Shanah Tova, I will allow the sweet to permeate as I evict the fear from my life.
I have found that the biggest hindrance to my life is fear, and usually that fear is unfounded. Tonight, I was spending some time in worship. The kids are in bed, I should be in bed, but I needed some time. This whole idea of living unafraid because your trust in is your King is definitely easier said than done. I am pretty sure I've been saying the same thing for years, but never had the guts to actually follow through. It was easier to speak it than to live it.
This morning I realized that I needed to accept being very patient and open with my expectations. As a creative person, I often find myself telling God how He can meet my needs. Honestly, I have some great ideas! This morning, however, I realized that I needed to shift my imagination into prayer and meditation. Instead of telling Him how He can meet me, I need to be quiet and pay attention. I'm talking too much! How can I possibly see the ways He meets me if I am too busy telling Him how it "should" be!?! Thing is, you can't...well, I can't. I can't see those ways He meets me when I am blathering on about these things. So, I am learning to be quiet and to be patient. Not easy. But, worth it.
Another thing that hit me tonight is that if I am going to live this life being holy unafraid, I need to trust that He is not going to put me in a position that will make me fail. He may ask me to do things that make me uncomfortable (public speaking) or even cause me to feel some fear (public speaking), but if He is going to ask this of me, isn't for His glory? Our failure only comes when we do not rise to His challenge! He does not desire for us to look foolish. We are His children and He desires only the best for us.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLV) says, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power, and of love, and of a good [sound] mind." Fear is not good and it is not sound. Fear is not love. And fear is not true power. My job over the next few months is to continue to push aside the fear that rises up in me and replace it with His promises. It is harder than it seems. Sometimes I really want to hold on to fear because it is familiar and strangely comforting. It gives me a false sense of protection. But, fear is a lie. And in order to live a life unafraid, I must do the work to let go of that "security". It will be neat to see how God fills that space where fear has resided for so long.
A few years ago, my family was introduced to celebrating the Biblical holidays. We enjoyed them so much that we help on to the tradition, but since we are not in a community/church that celebrates, we have not dug into them the way we did that first year. God has been putting it on my heart to start celebrating a Shabbat meal every Friday night, and leaving it open to anyone who would like to join. I've been nervous to do that, but then something happened that made me realize that I needed to be willing to step out in faith and live what I believe.
Now, let me tell you what happened. Out of the blue, my 16 year old daughter stepped into my doorway and said, "What if we celebrated the holidays this year for reals?" I had to laugh because we have started the bad habit of watching YouTube videos, discussing the holiday, then moving on with our lives declaring that we "celebrated". Even Hanukkah became a drive-by candle lighting. I knew exactly what she was saying. She was saying what I was feeling. What would happen if I began to live what I preached? What would happen if I gave in completely and allowed God to steer my life?
What if I lived holy unafraid? What would happen?
So, we decided. Starting in September, we will celebrate the Sabbath and we will celebrate the holidays. We will open our celebrations up to anyone who would like to attend. And, we will blog about it. We will each document our experiences here. We will see just how God uses us and blesses us when we open ourselves up to live completely in His will.
I'm so very excited! One more week to study and plan, but mostly, pray that we enter this time with excitement and joy. It's going to be so good!!!
In Hebrew, this means "our dance". It is through our dance that healing in found. Come before the throne and dance for your King!