Two weeks ago, I sat on my therapist’s couch and word-vomited for almost an hour about how overwhelmed I felt. On the outside, life seemed to be slowing down after the last four months of constant going and doing—a welcome change, believe me!—but on the inside I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, barely able to catch my breath, unable to find even a moment of quiet amidst a whole lot of noise. We talked about some practical steps I could take to combat that feeling of being overwhelmed, and then I went home and sat for a little while. Eventually, in the silence of my living room, Pops and I started talking it out again, getting to the heart of what felt so insurmountable:
Fear and trust.
They go hand-in-hand, you know. Trust asks us to act based on what we have known to be true in the past, despite the uncertainty of the future. Fear reminds us that the past does not the future guarantee. And yet, God asks us to trust Him anyway, based on what He has proven to be true about Himself in the past and in hope of the promise that He will never change. In a world where the only certainty is that everything is always changing, that is a big ask.
And so I sat on my couch and heard Him whisper the question to my heart:
“Are you worried it will run out?”
As tears began streaming down my face, I nodded my head, barely able to vocalize my answer:
“Yes. I am afraid. I’m afraid the provision will run out, and then what?”
He didn’t say anything more. He just sat with me while I poured out my fears—fears I didn’t realize had reared their ugly heads, AGAIN. And then when they were all laid out on the living room floor, I picked myself up and left them there. I decided to go to bed early and do some reading to calm myself down for a good night’s sleep, hoping that rest and a new dawn would help lighten my perspective again.
That’s when it started. That’s when He began dropping tender, gentle reminders into my days and moments that quieted the fears and pointed me back to the truth:
In a world where the only certainty is that everything is always changing, His care for me never does.
It started that very night. Before turning out the light, I decided to check a Facebook alert. When I opened the app on my phone, the first thing I saw was a post from a gal I am casually acquainted with from when she was part of a short-term missions trip to Cofradía while I was still living there. It said:
“The Lord has good in store. Lift up your eyes to Him and none other. Open your ears to Him and none other.”
With the fear that my counterintuitive life choices are hurdling me headlong toward ruin still niggling at my heart and mind, the comfort of that statement hit me like a tidal wave. It was forceful and quieting. I took a screen shot and made it the lock screen on my phone so that I would be reminded of it every time I look at my phone, which anyone who knows me will tell you I do a lot. Lock screens are a balm for my soul. Fo’ realz, people!
Fast forward a few days to last Sunday. It dawned beautifully, and I awoke with my mind running through all I had to do that day to prepare for the Three Birds Tour show I was helping to host at my church that night. Once the worship gathering began, though, I turned off all the to-do lists in my head and tried to focus in on the One I was there to spend time with, worship, and learn from. Toward the end of the service, we sang the song “Trust You” as performed by Shane & Shane for Worship Initiative. The second half of the first verse and the chorus say this:
I believe you will provide
All I need in my life
I will not fear anymore
For I will
Trust You, Jesus
Trust You, Jesus
Trust You with my life
Once again, I felt Him gently but powerfully pressing into those tender places in my heart and mind—the ones where all the fears and what-ifs reside as anchors for the self-powered striving that I so easily cling to instead of persevering in faith-powered trusting obedience to what I know He’s pushing and permitting me to do in this season of life. I heard Him. I nodded my head, communicating to Him that I was receiving the message. With tears choking my voice, I sang those words back to him as both a confession of weakness and sin and a plea for strength and help to persevere in choosing trust over fear, not just in word but also in daily practice.
Then, this past Wednesday we had a member’s meeting at church. To close the meeting we sang one song: “In Christ Alone,” the modern-day hymn written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend. The final verse says this:
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand
Yet a third time, He pushed through the noise, insistently reminding me of how safe I really am in His hands, in His plans, and inviting me to join Him in declaring that truth for myself as He delightedly sang it over me first.
Since then, He has pressed in over and over with these small, unexpected, and subtle yet powerful reminders of who He is and why I really have no reason to fear, despite the inherent uncertainty of walking into an unknowable future. Some mornings I wake up with Jess Ray songs running through my mind or praise songs I haven’t heard in ages, all reminding me of the truth of His tender and detailed care for me. Even my coloring book has joined me in this battle to trust:
When I awoke yesterday, I decided to take a break from all the to-do lists and allow myself as much of the morning as my heart needed to just spend time soaking in God’s presence and Word. I figured I would start by catching up on the current She Reads Truth reading plan, which is the book of Joshua. I had done the first day’s reading but then hadn’t picked it up again, putting me a week behind. So, I powered up my iPad and pulled up day two of the reading plan, which related the story of the Israelite spies scouting out Jericho and finding protection and aid from Rahab and then the subsequent Jordan River crossing. I’ve always loved the story of when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River to begin conquering the land God had been promising them for centuries, and especially the forty years leading up to that moment. This particular crossing stands in stark contrast to the circumstances of the Red Sea crossing forty years earlier. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they watched from the shore all night as the waters separated, and they did not step into the seabed until the land before them was dry. But that’s not what happened at the Jordan River. This time their orders were for the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant into the waters and stay there, and then once the waters stopped flowing everyone else would cross to the other side, the priests with the Ark bringing up the rear.
But see, here’s the thing: this particular event took place during the harvest time of year, and Scripture tells us that during that season the Jordan River ran high, overflowing its banks. That means that those priests had to walk into a river that was deeper and rushing faster than any sane person would dare walk into, and they had to do it trusting that the God whose presence they carried on their shoulders would keep His promise to stop the waters once they did. And let’s not forget that they had to take those very literal steps of faith with an entire nation watching to see what would happen.
Today, because Christ died for us, rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, and sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, the presence of God is in us. It is in me. I don’t get to stand on the river bank and watch His presence go ahead of me, face all the risks of faith, and then give me the signal that all is well and it’s now safe to cross. No, I’m the priests in that story, carrying the presence of God into the river standing between me and my (as yet undefined) promised land just praying with each hesitant step that the current won’t sweep my legs out from under me and wash me away.
And that’s exactly what it feels like on a daily basis: like there’s a river current rushing past, through, and around my legs, and I’m just struggling to keep my footing and to take just one more step, to quell the panic that wants to overwhelm me and wash me away. But here’s the thing:
I am not walking into that river alone. He is with me, holding tightly to me, and has promised He will not lose a single one. Not even me.
It takes conscious effort to remember this every day, but the only way to do it is to stay close to Him, clinging to Him as tightly as I can and drowning out the noise of the rushing currents by focusing on His voice alone.
In their mobile app, She Reads Truth always includes an image with a verse from the day’s Scripture reading for us to share on social media. The image and verse for Joshua Day 2 were yet another tender reminder from Pops of where my focus needs to be each day. It is comforting to know that He asks us to simply come closer and listen; His living words will do the rest of the work in us if only we will take that first step.
I have spent the last two weeks pouring out to the Lord, my Pops, some fears I had not realized were back. And He has spent the last two weeks answering with tender reminders that He is in control and working for my good–from FB posts to worship song lyrics, word art in my Psalms coloring book, lyrics from @jessray songs, and the Day 2 devo from the Joshua study by @shereadstruth:
“From impossible to impossible, the road of faith is under the command of our sovereign God, beginning to end.”
~ @biblewilliams, from Joshua Day 2 devo
So thankful that I have been adopted by the God who not only saves me from eternal death but also from the daily death of living enslaved to fear. In Him I no longer need to know how it will all work out. Making the impossible not only possible but certain is His mojo, and I am free to sit back and enjoy the ride ad stop worrying about all the details. It is hard to let go of my desire to know and control, but I am thankful that He patiently and tenderly continues to daily draw me close and reminds me of how safe I really am.