The Cure for Fear Lies in 2 Simple Antidotes

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We moved homes in 2010 from city-life to country -life and I was in for a big surprise.  Up until then I had been raised in a big city and never lived in any other type of environment except a big city.  The lights, the noise, the bustle, yes and even the pollution (that you don’t even realize you miss until you move to the middle of NO WHERE) were all craved luxuries.  I’ll preface that by mentioning we had lived in a rural town, rural as in it only had 5,000 people in the entire town, a Piggly Wiggly, and a Walmart. We moved right after college  due to my husband’s first job.  We tried to get out of there as fast as we got there. Because again, I am (at heart) a city-girl. Ain’t no shame in that.

But after moving back to the city we began to miss the quiet of the country, the stars ( I had no idea you could actually see them so close or at least they appear that way when smog is not invading the view) and the space, oh the space and need I mention the privacy.  Oh! the irony of hindsight!

So, naturally we decided to buy in the country, a beautiful home on 2 acres with wide open spaces and a little creek to boot in a small country town in Texas not too far from city life and yet definitely rural enough you could hear cows mooing and giving birth (as I’ve come to understand the noise to be).  Maybe we were growing up.  It was time to give this country thing a chance.

The first day of move in I excitedly began unpacking and putting my beautiful country kitchen together. As I opened our first box and reached in to grab a pot I suddenly jumped 10 feet back (yes, 10 feet people, ok, don’t argue!) I screamed and ran across the other side of the house and I would not come out of the room I ran to.  I saw a spider. The size of a shoe. Yes a shoe! Listen, size doesn’t really matter…in this situation.  It was a spider and I had never seen one like that before.  I called my dad (not sure why, he lived 8 hours away not sure what I thought he could actually do for me at that point) I was sure he had some reason I had to hear however.  He always does. He’s one of those dads.  He did manage to calm me down and did remind me that it wouldn’t kill me.  He also reminded me that it is probably more afraid of me (remember those annoying little talks when you were little and you were afraid of mice and roaches and they’d {the voice of reasons in your life} would tell you that they’re more afraid of you.  I wasn’t buying that one but it made logical sense. I eventually came out of the room and mustered up the will power to get some windex and windex him to death. Eventually they were EVERY WHERE. EVERY. WHERE. After an entire week of knots in my stomach and anxiety and missing the city,  I had to figure out who these spiders were and what they wanted with me.  Found out actually they aren’t poisonous at all, they weave the most beautiful webs and they actually help me out by killing and eating more gross things and pesky things.  So I decided we’d be distant friends. I overcame my fear. Her name? The Orb spider.

When I read the Apostle Paul’s story in Acts 21 I thought about fear in a very real way…not like my pathetic city-girl fear of spiders way.

Acts chronicles Paul’s journey from Christian slayer to Christian martyr.  His transformation is no doubt the invisible hand of God at work in a man whose purpose in life was to glorify God by telling ordinary people about the extraordinary love of Jesus, to give the European and Asian world a taste of the love of a Savior even unto death.  He faced shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, black-balling, stoning, hate and eventual death.  He always knew he was going to die for Christ.  One of those most astonishing things he says is in verse 12. His friends are crying because he tells them he might not see them anymore.  He’s headed to Jerusalem and the Jews want him dead.  Paul is forewarned of his imminent death and yet knows he has to face Jerusalem.

And he says, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? “

(Not sure bout you but I’d be weeping and bawling, wrapping myself in my friends arms, throwing myself on the floor, trying to escape reality, it would be an outright drama scene) but he continues,

“I am ready not only to bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

I believe that Paul just like Jesus feared death.  But fear was overcome with 2 powerful weapons: knowledge and perspective

  1. Knowledge (of the “unknown”): he knew the “unknown” possibility because God prepared his heart for it.  I believe God wants to prepare our hearts for the bumps and bruises, sufferings of life and yes even death if we let him.  When fear grips us it’s usually because we have no knowledge of our purpose in Him.  Know your purpose and fearful situations won’t keep you from walking in {His} strength.
  2.   Perspective: Paul knew what was important.  He saw life as a gain and he saw death as a gain.  If death is the worse thing that could happen to us then the outcome is pretty victorious. I’d take one day in heaven over a million here. However if you are on the other side and you don’t know what the outcome of your death will be then fear can be crippling.

Let’s live like Paul!

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have complete boldness, so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose? I do not know.…”

What is your hope in fearful situations?  What’s your biggest fear? Do you get crippled with fear?  How do you handle fear? What steps do you take?

 

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Pursuing Your Spouse For Christ: A Higher Calling

If you read my testimony page you’ll discover that Chuck and I are a reconciled couple, as in, we were once married to each other, we divorced and now we are remarried, God’s way.

I have been asked to share some encouragement with a group of divorcees at a big church on Thursday night. I have been praying and remembering the dark time I walked alone, the time I reunited with the Lord and then the time when my Chuck found us both.

I searched scripture for the right words and God’s insight on this topic.

When a spouse leaves and the other is left behind there is a tempting nudge to chase, pursue, to call, to beg, to plead with your spouse not to leave and at times to seek revenge.

So if you are that girl who has just been left or you are that wife who has the burden of pursing your husband to Christ here are some steps that might guide your through this tough journey.

In God’s power and strength I hope you can find rest and the desire for holy things.

If you are in the process of separation, divorce, or anything in between start your journey with:

Prayer

Although it sounds like the obvious it may be a hard thing to do, the way God wants us to do it.

1 Corinthians 7:5 tells us that if we are separated from our spouse (and it is referring to sexual separation) that we should only be separated for a time for prayer. Now, I understand that when we are in the situation of being left behind it is not a choice. I am suggesting that we treat the separation the same way we would as if it were; for our behaviour to be as if we are only separated for a time and that we indeed devote ourselves to prayer.

The NIV version uses the word “devote,” in greek the same word is to: empty our selves. What’s interesting and revealing about this word is that it’s definition is only used once in the entire Old and New Testament, at least I could not find it repeated anywhere else no matter how hard or how long I searched. There are many definitions for devotion but only once it is defined as “emptying” our selves.

If the definition infers to emptying ourselves than there is an assumption that we are full of something.

God is calling you to empty yourself of anything that is hindering your relationship with Christ such as:

-Obsession/idolatry of your spouse (is he/consuming more of your thoughts, anxiety, time etc. than God) or anything else.

Although I was brought up in a Christian home, I went to church and loved God I was obsessed with the idea of being married to my husband. I didn’t know it at the time but I was. It was everything to me. When my husband and I divorced my world shattered because I had given him a position in my heart that was meant only for God.

Some women I talk to about this topic have made an idol of the lifestyle their husbands have provided for them and are unable to reconcile the idea of living a life separate from the lifestyle.

-Unconfessed Sin (is there something you contributed to the departing of your spouse, an act, a lifestyle, forsaking of God’s principles in your marriage, anything…

-Unforgiveness

-Hidden sin

-Bitterness and anger

-Resentment

Other things to pray about may be: salvation for your spouse and prayer for yourself and God’s direction for your new life.

In The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, it defines “emptying” as imagining yourself on a vacation or holiday.

Picture yourself at your favorite vacation spot, the beach, the lake, mountains, some peaceful place, sitting there with absolutely nothing on your mind. NOTHING! Your heart, light, content, well, rested, peaceful. Let this time apart be like that. Unmoved in Christ. If you don’t know Jesus get to know him.

Our heart’s were designed to be filled, filled with Jesus, but in order to give it to the proper recipient we must empty it of its current holder.

Freedom,

we can pursue our spouses by giving them freedom.

It means giving them the freedom to leave. By saying, “ok” in your heart. You’re not saying you like it or even that you’ll be happy about it but you’re giving him/her the freedom to give in to his/her own sin.

Scripture tells us in Romans 11:32 that “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”

Wow! What a plan. If I had only read and believed that while I walked life alone, separated from God and divorced from my spouse my life and decisions would have been so different.

I made some regrettable choices while I was a divorced woman. I dated ungodly men, I choose to seek revenge, I wanted my husband to see what he was missing by allowing him to see me with other men. Boy did that back fire. My husband and I were in battle to see who could hurt the other next. I could’ve changed the course of our divorce or separation by actions to believe quickly that God had a plan to show Chuck mercy and ultimately me too.

If you are praying for your spouse and believe in reconciliation I am telling you, your relationship will be even sweeter if you allow God’s plan to pan out in your spouse’s life.

This calls for the good ol’ Christian cliché: “Let go and let God.”

Do not call him, text, tweet, face book, social media him in any kind of capacity If you have children talk only children and as little as you possibly can.

In 1 Corinthians 7:15, Paul tells us that if the unbelieving spouse leaves to let him do so.

I held on to my husband emotionally for a very long time after our divorce, it plagued me, near paralyzing the girl the Lord was trying to reinvent in me.  God was trying to do a work in me (and in Him) but I “kicked against the goads” by refusing to let him go in my mind. This doesn’t mean to forget him/her, or even to “move on with our life,” it means to refocus your thoughts and desires on Christ.

The question in our minds should be, ‘Is my passion for reconciliation greater than my passion for his/her need for salvation?’ If your heart’s desire is greater for reconciliation with your spouse than God is trying to use this time in your life in a  much different way than you imagined.

The 3rd and most important thing a divorcee can do (on her/his own) is…

Reconciliation with God

I wasn’t necessarily bad. I was a Christian when my spouse left but I wasn’t on fire for God. I was walking a fence of giving into the world and merely going to church. Although I wanted my spouse to become a Christian and live a “Christian” life I wasn’t obedient to things God was trying to call me out of completely, I was half-hearted at best.

God bounded me over to my sin (even though I didn’t consider it to be sin at the time) so that he could show me mercy.

And mercy he showed me!

Remember that God is the master of reconciliation, he wants you and your spouse together. He hates divorce, Malachi 2:16 (read 2:10-16 on unfaithfulness)

Also, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19.

God hates divorce so much that he would ask us to remain with an unfaithful spouse than to leave. Read the entire book of Hosea and you’ll see a perfect and holy example of how to pursue your spouse.

Now, I am not going to be the person to tell you to stay seated and “put up” with a cheating spouse (it’s not my place to say) because I believe in boundaries and consequences when they are broken but I equally believe in winning over our spouses by our obedience and love and passion for Christ and ony through that can we survive these circumstances. Only when Christ is your passion, front and center will it make sense to pray, to let go, and reconcile with your first love, Jesus.

How to reconcile:

  1. By being transformed by the renewing of your mind as it says in Romans 12:2. (If you are a Christian this is for you too, even a small hint of worldliness is sin. Think belief systems, materialism, obsession, pride etc.)
  2. Pursuing holy things, I don’t mean wearing long skirts and humming prayers all day long. (You can still chase after Jesus in high heels;) It’s a heart issue. In all situations search your heart and think how your actions affect God’s point of view.

Use this time for eternal things not temporal.  Paul compares marriage to temporal things (although it is a Holy thing, why?) because when we marry our focus is now on our spouse. When we battle with our spouse the focus shifts to earthly things and how to gain favor with our spouse and not necessarily how to gain favor with the Lord.

Be busy with things of God.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His rigdead-rosehteousness and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33

There can be no true reconciliation without Christ. You can try to and it will fail again.

Man’s heart, when in the flesh is bound to give into the flesh time and time again. Only trust a man’s heart when it is bound to Jesus.

In the mean time bind yours over to Him