Kurt posted a great reflection awhile back—If the Spirit Took the Lead—that really encouraged me to think even more deeply about my own journey of the last few years. It’s a real pleasure to be involved in Kurt’s process. Over the last six months, my husband and I have been in the process of numerous significant and drastically life-altering decisions: leaving a PhD, being laid off, moving back to the USA from abroad, launching ministries and starting businesses. In all of this, the thing that we keep coming back to, over and over again, is what life looks like when we stop living focused on ourselves, but instead trust that each step we make is trustworthy, significant, and valued by God.
When we stopped trying to control every moment, when we just stepped out, believing that the road would meet us – this is when God met us the most. So, it’s my delight to be able to reflect more pro-actively on what we’ve been trying to do in the last few months. These are statements that have withstood the petrie dish of our life for the last year. And they have helped us to Trust in the darkness what He showed us in the light. I tried to narrow this down to one post, but in all honesty, the few that made the cut didn’t even begin to cover all that happened as we started letting the Spirit take the lead in our lives. I hope that as I reflect on my own journey, you will be encouraged along your own.
We move from fear to faith.
I’ve been a student, an academic for more than 80% of my life. With the exception of those pesky toddler years and a brief hiatus of oat-sowing in the post-high-school days, I’ve defined myself by my intellect. I was never the popular girl, the pretty girl, the cheerleader, the athlete, or even the nerd. I was the bookworm. Then, last year, smack dab in the middle of my PhD, it became crystal clear – chock-a-block full of signs and messages and all the mysterious business you could wish for – that I was to leave it. Not put it on hold, not even transfer institutions. But to leave school. The fear that entered into my life with this decision paralyzed me. Combine that with the notification from my husband’s employer that his job “might be restructured soon” and you have a very different reality to look forward to.
Our previously clear and understood future became a swirly vortex of “I don’t know.” As a control freak, and a seriously Type A personality, this situation became absolutely unliveable. I remember having panic attacks and not knowing what to do. The thought of the future – all unknown and dark and spooky and mysterious – didn’t bring me any joy or hope, it was simply a black hole. But we prayed, we talked to our community, and we chose to step into it. I left the PhD. I didn’t stop being afraid, but I did it scared. And the moment the written notification went out, I felt this strange sense of encouragement welling up from within me. I started to believe in things again. I started to remember that perfect love casts out all fear (1Jn4:18). I began to trust that who I was wasn’t defined by my education or even what I had thought was my ‘calling.’ And instead, I found a deep-seated faith in myself – a child of God, beloved of God. I believed that He believed in me – regardless of my circumstance.
I was listening to a sermon the other day that made the claim that fear is simply faith in the wrong thing. Instead of having faith in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, we place our faith in the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of darkness. When we believe that they either have won, are winning, or will win, then we live in fear. I somehow had faith that if I followed what God had asked of me, all of His plans and intentions for my future were in jeopardy. If we live in fear of the world, or other people, or the enemy, we’re paralyzed. We cannot move forward. We don’t want to be embarrassed, punished, hurt or humiliated. We don’t want to lose the little we believe we have. So, instead of getting on with the business of life—abundant life—we halt, stagnate, freeze. We forget the abundance offered to us.
God has called us to freedom. This can only come about through faith. Although God is worthy of our fear as sovereign, all-powerful and perfectly just, He reminds us to not be afraid. He wants us to come to Him under mercy and grace and compassion. He wants to remove the fear of this dark world, and send us out in faithfulness.
When the Spirit takes the lead, we can trust that we have nothing to fear. We can remember that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is living in us, empowering us, guiding us. We can believe that God has faith in us, that He believes in us, that our worth is grounded in His trust of us, and we move from fear into faith.
How does fear affect your decisions? Does it lead you to take a ‘safer’ course?
Why do you think it is so much easier to trust in the ‘other’ kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God?