faith over fear

Today was our first day "back to reality" (oops there goes gravity...wait, what's that? No? Not an Eminem fan? Yeah, me either...) from our recent mini snow-cation. Last Friday, nine beautiful, glittering inches of snow covered my little corner of Nashville. It was glorious (see photo on the right).

Waking up on Friday morning and opening my curtains to a frozen, quiet, and peaceful earth covered in a blinding shade of white brought tears to my tired eyes. So for three days straight I ran around like a kid lost in a toy store, wearing sweat pants, snow boots, and a 1992 Columbia ski jacket I just got from Thrift Smart, with an expression of pure joy and bliss on my face ( see photo to left).

We invited anyone who could walk to our house to come over and enjoy the snow with us, which meant throwing snowballs and watching movies and playing games and making pancakes at noon, just because we could. The snow days felt like a little gift that God sent to me, a break of rest and community and laughter and good food, a break to read books that force me to tend to my soul, which was already growing weary and frazzled in this new year with stress and bills and lesson plans and soccer season right around the corner. But yesterday, the snow melted, turning my white wonderland into the same shades of grey, black, ugly, and bleh that I feel certain inspired the color palate for Kanye West's clothing line.

I say all of that to explain the context for this post, which was my rotten mood on my way to work today. I overslept, meaning that I had no time to stop and read and pray before leaving the house. I thought I'd "squeeze it in" (I know God is laughing at me, as I write this, for my stupidity in thinking that He, the God of the universe, can be "squeezed" into anything, ever) on my way to work by listening to Gen. 12 (where I am on my little reading plan) on the Bible app.

So there I was, grumpy and disheveled, guzzling coffee like my life depended on it (b/c let's be honest: IT DOES) and speeding to work while some creepy guy who sounds like a british Ken Burns soundalike read Genesis to me through the speaker on my phone. And yet, despite all of this, it only took God about 5 minutes to get my attention with these words:

"So Abraham went, as the Lord had told him."

This verse comes right after Genesis 12:1-3, which are the verses entitled "The Call of Abram." You know- the ones where God tells him to leave his life and land and everything in his comfort zone because He wants to change the world through him? I've heard it a thousand times, and somehow I have always missed the significance of this story. When I think of Abraham and his faith, I think of the story where he almost killed his son as a sacrifice just because God told him to. Or him bartering with God to hold off on wiping out Sodom & Gomorrah with flaming meteor rocks if there are only 50..45..40..30...20..10.. decent people living there. I've never thought about how it all started: God called. Abram answered. Abram obeyed. That's it.

To be honest, it kind of sucked hearing this on my way to work today. As bad of a person as this makes me sound, I did not really expect to hear from the Lord today. Some days just don't feel magical or spiritual when they begin. In fact, because I'm working on the practice of authenticity, I'll tell you the truth: I've had entire years of my life that didn't. Yet, there God was, talking to me through Abram/Ken Burns.

Essentially what God was saying to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 is this: "Abram-I have more in store for you. I have great things in store-world-changing-in fact, but in order for you to get to them, you're going to have to move. Take your things, your family, your life, and go." And he did. He packed up and left. Can I be honest again? The reason it sucked hearing this is because I know that this is not the way I would respond to God if He said the exact same thing to me. In fact, there have been times in my life that I felt certain that this is exactly what God was saying to me and I did NOT go. Affirmative. No movement from this girl.

So I thought, why is that? What what motivates us to make decisions? What motivates ME to make decisions? And two things kept coming up: FAITH and FEAR. I thought about my life, and the choices I've made, and how small my faith is. It's embarrassing. Then I thought of all the times I've let fear win out over faith. Even more embarrassing. Because the truth is, though I claim to be a Christian-a FOLLOWER of Jesus-the reality is that the only FOLLOWING I do is to places that I'm not afraid to go. If it takes trust in God, I usually just choose otherwise. Fear wins for me most of the time. So I stand on the edge of what God has called me to and over-analyze and over-Spiritualize and over-emotionalize every call I've ever gotten from the Lord-and it's not because I don't know what's on the other side. I do know. It's that I'm afraid I can't get there. I'm afraid that I don't have what it takes to walk down the road from here to there-"here" being comfortable, control, you know, where I like to live my life- and "there" being surrender, faith, and the life God's calling me to.

But you know what? I'm tired of letting fear win out. And my faith sure is tired of being defeated. My life and my faith look like a deflated Valentines day balloon that's still hanging around in March, barely there but still hanging on. But I don't want to live that way. And I'm sure you don't either.  So today, in my car, on this ugly, rainy Tuesday morning, I embraced a new little life-mantra:

Faith over fear. 

I think the phrase was inspired by my hero Shauna Niequest's motto "present over perfect", which I also love. But that's her thing. For me, faith and fear are my extremes, the polar opposites that I jog back and forth between until I'm utterly exhausted and soul-sick.

I guess I could sum it up by saying this: I'm learning that when God speaks, His invitation is rarely easy but it is always worth it. But in order to follow Him we have to choose faith over fear. Abram wouldn't have become Ab-ra-ham, fathered nations, and changed the course of history and Christianity by staying in Horran. And it's not like this was an easy move for him. He was 75 years old. He was settled, established, comfortable. But God invited him to more, and he listened. He trusted that God could lead Him to the life He promised to him, and he WENT. For me, today, God did not call me to pack up my life and servants to animals and set out for Canaan. Today He called me to be an English teacher in Antioch, TN. And to be honest, I didn't even do a very good job at that. But tomorrow, I'll set out again, and hopefully, I'll do better. He may call me somewhere else. He may not. But regardless, I'm choosing faith over fear. 


Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Very impressive writing.

Lisa Waters said...

Thank you for your authenticity. I♡u

corey trevathan said...

great stuff! thanks for sharing!!