"There is no fear in love [dread does not exist],
but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors
and expels every trace of terror!"
I John 4:18a (Amplified Version)
There have been many opportunities for fear recently. I have been experiencing brutal weather conditions, cranky people, automobile troubles, family members who arrived home far later than expected, not enough and too much, and generally that which comes with living in a fallen world.
One evening I lay in bed reminding myself to breath in and breath out... for I have this rather strange reaction to stress... I forget to breath... or at least breath becomes shallow and I start getting light headed. While eleven became twelve and twelve became one and I was upset at myself for letting fear take hold, I forced my thoughts toward the One Who Made Me.
I made a decision long ago not to let fear control my life. I had watched what it did to my mother, bringing much distress and unhappiness to both our lives with far reaching consequences. The constant worry clouded her better judgment in decisions big and small. While God redeemed the broken places and made them whole in my life... my mother never really found true peace this side of Eternity.
We now find ourselves living in a world of fear. Uncertainty is on the lips of well known newscasters, heads of state, small business owners, as well as the guy next door. Middle Eastern countries are imploding and gas prices are exploding, the earth is shaking and the winds are blowing and the rivers are flooding and our dollar is shrinking.
Christopher told me last night that he talked to the owner of a popular Mexican restaurant on campus who said his food prices have doubled in recent months, causing him to have to stop the discount offers which brought students to his place. He wasn't sure if his business will survive.
My son's favorite healthy lunch was at one of the Mediterranean restaurants who have now stopped serving their Jerusalem salad and all others made with tomatoes and cucumbers as their prices have also doubled. I must admit, I no longer even look at produce except for onions and garlic but I hadn't thought what it meant to those who depend on food for their livelihood.
How do we stand firm when the world is shaking? How do we turn the pit in our stomach to peace in our heart? We run to the Rock of our Salvation for He never changes and He is in control. Yes, it looks like the world is falling apart but there is One Who knows what today and tomorrow holds... and He holds YOU in the palm of His hand.
I love the above verse, it is one I have thought of so often through the years when I felt the tension in my neck and shoulders and that sense of panic at the thought of tomorrow. Perfect love does cast out fear... fear is not the opposite of faith but the absence of faith. Not our perfect but His perfect love.
I have learned to take one day at a time and not project my fears into the future. It is so easy when one is deciding between gas in the car and bread on the table to let their thoughts drift to losing the house and standing in soup lines (at least my mind can go down that road!). Instead I have learned to look only at today and this twenty-four hour period... for that is the grace and the faith given... like manna in the wilderness, grace lasts one day at a time.
I have written so much about having a place of sanctuary, whether a corner of a room or the entire house or the garden or sitting in front of a sewing machine or stirring the stew in a pot on the stove or the kitchen counter where the bread dough is kneaded into loaves.
I have learned good music soothes the nerves and calms the soul. I have learned if I'm too stressed for a Bible study, I can live in the Psalms and survive. I have learned excellent literature and some fun light novels and books written by excellent Bible teachers and those written for the ten year old but read at fifty... all take me away from stress.
I have learned just because there are 24 hour news channels, I need to stay away except for small news updates at a time. I have learned I do not need to watch someone else analyze the latest news over and over. I have learned not to keep ice cream in the freezer when I'm feeling stressed. I have learned coffee first thing in the morning and a tea break in the afternoon goes a long way to making me feel happy.
I have learned that people I live with will continue to get into bad moods off and on so never expect perfection. I have learned money spent on the garden or a much beloved old book or a beautiful magazine or a cookbook with pictures and prose returns investment in priceless moments of sheer bliss. I have learned time spent on a creative project results in contentment as well as beauty.
Most of all, I have learned to take every thing in my life that brings about the stress and lay it at the feet of Jesus and to tell Him... "Here, it is Yours... my shoulders are not strong enough to carry this burden". I remind myself over and over that to Trust Him is to Please Him. I tell Him that my family is His, my finances are His, my tomorrow is all His. His love toward me and mine is Perfect even if we are not...
Whatever is going on in our lives and in the world, He really is in control. All we can control is our thinking and that is where the battle persists... do we let our imagination take us to a dark unknown or do we let our mind think on that which builds faith... and do we remind ourselves to breath in the middle of the night?