note: portions of this post are actually excerpts from my book.
After trusting God in our big move from San Antonio to Denver, the year continued and the children thrived. We all did, really. God had brought us to the place where we belonged.
Though things finally began to feel settled as we got into the groove of our new life in Colorado, I begun having huge issues with fear. No, that's not true. Actually, they begun far before our move. But (sigh) here they became magnified.
I know the Lord protects. I've experienced it...oh how I've experienced it. Every time I tell people about what our family has lived through and witnessed while living in Guatemala during my junior high years, they've got to think I'm making it up.
While we lived in this beautiful, lush, cobblestoned country, guerrilla warfare ran rampant. And on many instances, we witnessed it firsthand. There were several nights where my brother and I would army-crawl in the darkness from our rooms to the other side of the house to my parent's master bedroom as we heard machine gunfire and hand-to-hand combat on our front steps. We sat under a window (where my parents could sneak peeks outside) in complete silence, knowing our "family plan" and seeing before me the measures my amazing dad would go to protect us.
Like I said, I've seen His hand of Protection first-hand. Many times.
But now that I have a family, a large family, I have something to lose.
And the idea of that grips me.
My all-time favorite passage in the Bible is Psalm 91.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
. . Psalm 91:1-2, 4-6, 9-12, 14-15 NIV . .
Even now I struggle.
The boys woke early this morning, the snow is thick in the mountains and ski school awaits. Waving and watching red tail-lights glow smaller and smaller down our frost-frozen street, I close the door behind me.
My cousins visited when I was young in high school. Driving through Seattle on their way to visit family in California, they stopped for a quick overnight with dinner and fellowship. We laughed, we exchanged stories, we caught up. Oh, such fun.
The next morning after a hot breakfast of Swedish pancakes and milk poured from my grandmother's porcelain cow pitcher, hugs were tight all-around and again tail lights faded down the street.
That was the last time I saw her alive, my sweet cousin, my same age.
A few hours into their drive on toward the Sunshine State and their grandparent's open arms, a man - still drunk from night's poor decisions, changed the family forever. Her brothers, her sister, her mother, all scarred inside and out, hearts still aching all these years later, at the loss of a young life.
Not so long ago, while running on a treadmill at the gym, I tuned my ear buds to the sounds of a news channel. In Russia, the nails of children were being ripped from their chubby little fingers. Torture of the innocent. A bomber in the Middle East was reported to be a child. Local news of neglect, abuse.
My eyes blurred and my heart raced.
I stepped up onto the sides of the treadmill, letting it speed along empty. I clutched my heart, unable to catch my breath - not from the push of running, but from an overwhelmed and angry heart, without the understanding of why life must be so cruel. So evil.
When will I experience such evil? When will something horrible happen to my innocent children? To my family? I thought as fears coursed through me, experiencing my first of what could only be a panic attack.
It was never if. My mind only blared when???
I turned off all news. I no longer turned my knob to the talk radio station I enjoyed in the car. Information of the world around me came to a screeching halt. I couldn't handle it. My heart couldn't handle it. Dreams were dark, fears and situations flashed in my minds-eye during the light of day.
Fear. Such overwhelming fear.
Along with my fear, came Ezekiel's. His nightmares grew worse and recurred every night. His safe place was sleeping in Anton & Laith's room, scrunched in the small space between their two beds. His younger brothers loved having him close, though they were often asleep as he snuck in after particularly scary dreams ran him out of the warmth of his own covers.
He was having a hard time processing his real experiences in Ethiopia with the make-believe, they became jumbled together, his brain unable to discern where truth ended and how things connected. I mentioned before that his village was dangerous, I still don't know the details of his scarred face. But I do know that it's smooth as a baby's now.
Time heals, and I knew it would heal both of us, too.
Once again, the Lord drove me to my knees. I needed to get out from under this overwhelming fear that consumed me at times. I prayed for my own struggles, and I prayed for Ezekiel's. I found strength in that we were going through something similar. I could identify with his fears. Though mine didn't manifest itself in my sleep, and were rather my mind's-eye thinking the worst of the "what if's," they were still much the same.
I realized something one day though.
Learning from the image of the storm:
It's not the absence of the storms that set us apart. It's whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ.
We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us.
If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us.
. . 1 John 4:18 . .
The Gospel of John shows us so many of our Lord's promises...
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
. . John 14:15 . .
In this instance, Jesus is not talking of a situation like that of our sweet adopted children. He's talking to you. To me. We also are orphans, He our Father, loves us and wants to gather us in His arms to care for us.
The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you.
My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world.
Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.
. . John 14:26-27 . .
So am I interested or committed?
How much do I believe Him?
Do I actually believe that He will take care of myself and my family...or is it all talk?
Do I honestly think that even if things begin to go Job-like (see the book of Job), He loves me and has purpose behind it somehow?
For He works all things together for good.
Armed with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (see Ephesians 6:13-20) ...both Ezekiel and I have begun to heal from the darkness of fear that so easily arises within us. I still struggle, but that's what's so amazing about our God.
Every day is a new beginning.
All fear is but the notion that God's love ends.
"Did you think I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough? But I am infinite, child. What can end in Me? Can life end in Me? Can happiness? Or peace? Or anything you need? Doesn't your Father always give you what you need?
I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end. Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough...In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends. If My goodness toward you end, I will cease to exist, child. As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace."
(Anne Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)
Want a printable of Psalm 91?
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How do you feel about fear?? How do you overcome it??