Run of the House

Every fall a camellia tree out back blooms and I’m surprised.  I forget it does it’s thing it was created to do in the fall.  As everything else is turning brown and preparing to rest for cooler months, this tree comes to life.  It’s a surprise gift each year and I didn’t have to labor one minute for it to be so, and I certainly haven’t spent a single day worrying it wouldn’t bloom.

I’ll always remember several years ago when I was suffocating in fear.  An irrational kind of what if fear.  Maybe it’s being a mother, maybe it’s a chemical imbalance, maybe it’s watching someone too close to home suffer in agonizing loss; whatever it is, you can just wake up one day and be scared to death to move.  Paralyzed by fear.  It’s real.

During that time, I sat in church one Sunday listening, begging God to give me something to grip onto.  I listened as an 8 year old in front of me smiled and whispered, finishing the words of my pastor, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  As our pastor proclaimed truth into a microphone up front, an 8 year was personally claiming it for himself from his seat in the back of the church…receiving the gift and allowing it to travel from his head to his heart.

Bringing it home with him in childlike faith as treasure.

It spoke to me in the most comforting of ways. As I was searching for something to grasp onto, I began realizing my need was actually quite the contrary.  I was gripping fear, and it was killing me.  While I was begging God to give me something to grip onto, he was whispering for me to let go because I was already in His grip.

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I still don’t have answers like I wish I did, and I can’t make sense of circumstances like I wish I could; but as years build upon my life, my eyes are being opened to patterns.  I’m noticing that spending too much time in either yesterday or tomorrow, will almost always lead me to fear and anxiety.  It’s practically a guarantee.  I’m noticing when I dwell on all that is evil, I am blocking the freedom that only comes from faith in the promise of the One in control, the One who works all things for good.  Because He is always good.

When we fear this world, we are doubting the goodness of God.

Fear can become our default, and any pattern we practice will affect the way we live, but God offers a better practice.  The practice of faith, that one and only way we can please Him.

Tim Keller says it like this:

“Anxiety is a daily statement to God saying, ‘I don’t think you have my best interest in mind’.”

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By His grace, we must change our default if we are going to live abundantly in the fullness of Christ.  God didn’t ask fear to leave.  He didn’t walk fear out of His presence.  He “casts fear out”, or depending on your translation, “banishes all fear”, or “expels all fear”, or “drives out all fear”.  And then sometimes we just need to hear it from The Message in plainer terms:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.  1 John 4:17-18

So I could worry all year that those pink buds aren’t gonna come.  I could toil and research and treat and care for that tree out back to ensure it blooms.  Or I can personally claim Truth like that 8 year old kid in church, and faithfully practice forgetting about fear, worry, and anxiety all together; and let love run wilding through my house instead.  And then one day instead of waking up afraid, I will wake up and see flourishing, blooming, pink promises that have only bloomed by faith.  And every last petal is nothing but grace.

Amy Heywood