Fears

Another post combining assignments from Writing 101. This time I am completing assignment 17 (addressing one of your worst fears) along with assignment 19 (an unedited free write of at least 400 words).  

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When I was eight or nine years old, there was a scary incidence which involved me getting caught in a strong current while swimming with a friend. Actually, we were on the underside of a barge-type party boat, holding onto the metal frame and talking in the cool shade it provided. The barge was on the river, anchored but with the motor idling. No parents or other adults were with us, aware of what we were doing. In my memory, it also seems as if it might have been lightly raining as well, which was why we were perhaps underneath the barge, but of this I remain uncertain. However, one thing is always crystal clear in that memory:  I knew my parents would have disapproved of the activity in which I was participating.  Yet I was there … unable to say no to my friend, feeling guilty, but participating anyway.

At some point in the afternoon, my hands slipped off the metal frame, and I found myself trapped in a current. Although I knew how to swim relatively well in a safe pool, I wasn’t skilled at river swimming and I didn’t know how to get out of the current. Suddenly, I realized I was being pulled toward the motor of the barge. In that moment, I recall how everything moved in slow-motion. I never felt frightened, though I rightfully should have been.  Rather it was more like watching a movie of someone else instead of the feeling of impending danger being directed toward myself.

To this day, I don’t recall if anyone, including me,  shouted or screamed. I don’t remember who reached out and pulled me from the current, or whether I thanked them afterwards.  All I remember was the intense relief that washed over me.  I wasn’t going to be caught in my disobedience.

To this day, I have a fear of being caught in the act of doing something terribly wrong. I suppose as far as fears go it isn’t such a bad one to have. After all, it’s kept me from a lot of trouble and heartache over the years.

The older I get, the more I struggle with the fear of obedience rather than the fear of disobedience. Not obedience to parents or laws or even traditional morals. I’m talking about obedience to God, particularly the sort of obedience in which He asks us to do something hard and unexpected. I fear God asking me to do something I don’t want to do, something big and scary that might cause me some discomfort or a change in the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to living.

For years, I toyed with the idea of adoption. It was more talk than anything, a sort of respect and love for those I knew who adopted and a desire to follow in their footsteps. Even as a single mother, I expressed a desire and a longing to adopt a child, always imagining a special needs child from a foreign land. After Jon and I married, the topic came up for discussion more than once, but we were never on the same page.

A couple of months ago, Jon called me and suggested we find a way to go to a local Wait No More Conference, sponsored by Focus on the Family. All either of us knew was that it was for families interested in adoption or foster care. Obviously, I was mainly interested in adoption and Jon was still highly skeptical of both.

And yet, by the time the day was over, Jon and I were both on the same page … foster care with the option to adopt.

Let me be frank … obedience in this situation scares me to no end. The mere idea of bringing a child, one who has suffered so much, into our home. I’m sure any questions or concerns you can think of, I’ve already thought of and more. Jon and I constantly check our motives.

Up until about two months ago, I never really gave foster care much of a thought. I didn’t hear of it within my social realms or talk with others who were into fostering children. But once I began to hear God calling out to me, fostering is everywhere. I’ve met other bloggers who foster, became aware of former foster children in my own church, and even discovered a church in my community with a ministry geared toward foster families.

The most amazing part is how in a relatively short time Jon and I have gone from being divided and uncertain regarding God’s desires for our family to being united and certain of what God is showing us to do.  Our hearts and our home are opened to His plan for our family, and very likely one day soon, perhaps even by the end of the summer, there will be more than just the seven of us living here.

I’m sure there will be plenty of hard moments as a foster mother. My eyes are wide-open. And I’m a bit scared of the entire proposition, if the truth be told.

And yet, in the end, I am far more fearful of being disobedient to God than of being faithful to follow through in obedience to His calling for my life.

I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments. Psalm 199:60

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down!

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It’s a story told often, how the walls of Jericho fell. In Sunday School classes, tiny children are taught to sing the song, retelling how Joshua fought the Battle of Jericho by simply marching round the city walls and blowing on trumpets.  

While the account of those tumbling walls of Jericho definitely make for a memorable Bible story, the life lessons contained within should be nothing less than inspiring for a Christian facing what seems to be a formidable problem.  As I study this story, I find not only encouragement for battles in my life, but also a very particular battle plan that is a key to breaking down strongholds in my life.

You find the recount of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho in the book of Joshua, chapter 6. The very first verse says this:

Now Jericho was strongly fortified … ~Joshua 6:1

Joshua had literally just led the Israelite nation into their Promised Land. Now they were going to have to drive out all those who lived there, and Jericho was the first city on the list of many. Archaeologists and historians have noted that Jericho’s walls actually consisted of 3 walls:  a retaining wall about 15 feet high with a 25 foot high mud-brick wall on top of the retaining wall.  Between the first two walls and the third wall was a steep embankment.  At the top of the embankment stood the third wall, which was also about 25 feet high, though the base of this third wall was about 45 feet higher than the top of the second wall. To Joshua and the Israelites, Jericho was formidable. There was no hope of a battle victory here.  And yet, Joshua’s instructions were to drive out all those who lived in the Promise Land. It must have seemed like a monumental task.

As the Biblical account reads, God lets Joshua know that He has already handed over the entire city of Jericho, as well as its king and fighting men, to Joshua. All Joshua must do is have his army of men march around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, the priests were to blow the trumpets while the men march around the city seven times. Then at the sound of the long trumpet blast, the men were to give a mighty shout and the walls would collapse.  I have often wondered, as have many Bible preachers and teachers, how Joshua felt upon hearing God’s battle plan. After all, it wasn’t exactly the typical method of defeating an overwhelming foe. Yet, God promised Joshua the outcome wasn’t in question. Victory was assured … as long as Joshua followed God’s battle plan, as crazy as it seemed.  The first key to overcoming strongholds in life is obedience to God. Obedience is doing things 100% God’s way, even if it seems illogical or crazy to our human brains.

Joshua had enough faith in God to obey, to trust that God would bring about the impossible. Joshua also knew that faith often requires an element of discipline. In Joshua 10:6 we see Joshua command his troops:

Do not shout or let your voice be heard. Don’t let one word come out of your mouth until I say, “Shout!”

Then you are to shout.

How often do I ask for God’s help and receive His action plan for victory, only to not have enough discipline to carry it out?  Faith may begin in the heart, but it is carried out in our deeds. True belief is followed by actions which are the proof of what is in our hearts.

Along with discipline, faith requires endurance. Joshua and his army didn’t just march around the city of Jericho once.  They didn’t march sporadically either. They marched once a day for six days straight, and then on the seventh day they marched seven times around those walls. Historians tell us that the walls of Jericho surrounded an area that was approximately 1,500 feet in length and a little over 500 feet in width.  While it was certainly doable for Joshua’s vast army to march around the city seven times in one day, it would have been a long walk. And yet, because of their willingness to endure and push through, God’s victory was given to Joshua and the Israelites.

More than anything, when I face problems in my life, especially the kind that are rooted deeply, I feel overwhelmed and hopeless to make positive changes.  Currently, I’m working to change a lifetime of poor eating choices.  After 40 years of eating more than I should and not making the healthiest of food choices, it feels like a daunting change.  When I consider the aspect of having PCOS and genetics, both of which predispose me to having a struggle with my weight, I realize that this foe is formidable, and to attempt to defeat it feels like a losing battle before I ever get started. Yet, deep down in my soul, I think God will be delighted to give me victory in this area, if only I am willing to follow Him in obedience, with discipline and endurance, trusting that His battle plan will bring me the victory. 

What overwhelming problem do you face in your life? Have you given it to God for the victory?  If you do, you can trust your faith in God, along with obedience, discipline and endurance, will be part of the battle plan God gives you in order to overcome even the strongest foes.