Category Archives: Fear Not!

911 (Part 2) – When The Enemy Is At The Door

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post.  Thankfully, it turned out that my imagination was the enemy that day.  But not all my enemies have been imaginary, and a few of them have been terrifying.

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  (Psalm 55:4-8)

There have been times when I’ve found myself standing toe-to-toe against an enemy that (seemingly) had every advantage over me.  I am reminded of a small apartment, and a summer afternoon about 20 years ago.  I had a restraining order against him, and yet there he was – on the doorstep, trying to kick-in the door while screaming horrific things.  I had dared to stand up against him, and he was livid … and I was near paralyzed with fear!

TERROR:  a very strong feeling of fear

TYRANNY:  cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

OPPRESSION: unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power

I yelled back that I was calling the police.  Whether I did, or didn’t, I can’t recall.  I do remember sinking to the floor and curling up into ball, wishing I could somehow just disappear. But instead of disappearing, from somewhere deep within spoke a stronger voice (the voice of Himself, my Lord and my God), telling me to GET UP! To STAND UP!

This is a challenging post to write, but perhaps not for the reasons you think.  Sure, when I pause to reflect on darker days, I’m somewhat saddened by the life I had back then.  But praise God, I’m not that woman anymore, so it’s not the memory of those days that makes this a challenging subject.  It’s the awareness that you, the reader of this post, might at this very moment be under a full-on attack by your worst enemy (flesh-and-blood, or spiritual).   Or perhaps you have fought and have emerged the other side of a battle (physical, emotional, or spiritual), and now bear the wounds and scars from all that was inflicted upon you during the fight.   In either case, here you are – reading this post.  And that, beloved, deserves reverence in my writing.

Spiritually speaking, we all have an enemy that is constantly trying to ‘take us out’, and the simple truth is that the more of a threat you are to him, the more vicious and strategic his attack.

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cushand Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you..     (Isaiah 43:1-4a)

I’ve been blessed to know several spirituals “Oaks” in my life, men and women whose faith is unshakable and can face even the most violent storms of life with barely a blink of the eye.  These are the people I like to surround myself with, and these are the people I turn to for comfort and support when I’m facing an impending fight or am battle-weary during a long and drawn out conflict where victory seems to be elusive.

Now back to my story.  At that point in time, my enemy (who I now realize was not my ex, but the evil that was controlling him) seemed so much bigger than I was capable of dealing with.  And in truth, he was – which is why I’m so grateful that all God asked me to do at that very moment was to GET UP and STAND!

And so I got up.  I took a stand.  And my God stood with me!

Was I still afraid? Absolutely. Did things change overnight? No. Was I wounded in the battle?  Yes, but healing has come and I am now a more skilled warrior as a result of the battle experience.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Armor of God
Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)

In this broken world, you and I will encounter many trials and be called to battle against the enemy many times.   We may suffer some hard hits in the warfare; let us fight on. We may be tempted to ease up off that territory we were trying to overtake, considering it better/safer/saner to find contentedness in dry valleys than to press on to conquer farer pasture lands; let us press on.  We may be so terrified of our foe that we can barely manage to keep a grip on our weaponry; let us then STAND!  

Let us be found STANDING!   Snot-nosed but STANDING!  Weak-kneed but STANDING!   Bug-eyed but suited up in the Armor of God, and STANDING!  It’s His Armor we are wearing, and He is in the battle with us.  If we will be obedient to follow the instructions He gives, then when the dust finally settles – we can be assured we will be found STILL STANDING!

And that is how we grow from acorn to Oak, by standing and standing and standing until those roots-of-faith grow so deep and so strong that we then become a place of solace and refuge for others during their storms.

The song ‘OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail)’ by Hillsong UNITED beautifully describes the mystery of walking by faith when moving into deep waters.

When the storms of life come, may our roots prove deep!

Blessings,
Jenny

Living in the present

A dear friend gave me Sarah Young’s devotional “Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence” for Christmas.  I’ve been meditating on the February 1st reading for most of February as I strive to ‘live in the present’ and walk humbly with my God.

“February 1

Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world.  You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights.  Meanwhile, because you’re not looking where you’re going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now.  As I help you get back on your feet, you tell Me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead.  But you don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow.  Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains.  There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from the distance.  If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb.  I will even give My angels charge over you, to preserve you in all your ways.

Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence.  Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you.

Psalm 18:29; Psalm 91:11-12 AMP; 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV”

As shared in my post The Break Up, I have wasted a lot of days stumbling on easy paths because I was busy obsessing on what looked like a difficult patch ahead – usually way off in the distance.  I have tripped over my own feet and skinned my knees along the way.  I made wrong turns and gotten lost.  And in many cases, I have mis-stepped and fallen off the path altogether, slipping and sliding my way down from the High Places and back towards the Valley.  Argh!

photo by Kevin Tuck
photo by Kevin Tuck

Oh, how I need to learn how to live in this present moment!

And what, pray tell, is the root cause of all my obsessing?

You guessed it … FEAR!

* FEAR that the journey ahead requires more than I’ve got to give and I won’t make it

* FEAR of whom/what I might encounter on the way (bandits, beasts, and other scary things)

* FEAR of loss and/or pain (emotional, physical, spiritual, relational)

If I make the mistake of listening to him, Fear will have me convinced of my ultimate demise before I ever get past the 1/4 mile mark!

But what do I know about the road ahead?  Nothing, absolutely and literally nothing!

You see, even if I happen to have some natural knowledge about a challenge that awaits on the route before me, am I able to foresee all the possibilities for help and/or deliverance up ahead?   OK, so maybe there IS a huge ravine that is impassable by human means – my God can send a helicopter to carry me over!  And what IF there are enemies up ahead – my God has given me His armor to wear, and hidden armament awaits me up ahead.  And yes, that precipice off in the far distance looks impassable – but my loving God has a beautiful detour mapped out for me that it outside of my current view!

“People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.   Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.””   (Isaiah 30:19-21)

And what of the opportunities am I throwing away in this present moment because I’m so future focused?  Such as opportunities for …

* live-giving conversations with my Lord and Savior,
* the company of fellow journeymen/women; some whom I could encourage, and others who could encourage me,
* the experiences and sights, sounds and smells of the road I’m currently traveling,
* the opportunity to kick stones out of the pathway for those who will journey behind me!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”   (Matthew 6:34)

No, I have determined, now more than ever, to leave my cares at the cross of Christ, because I know that He cares for me!  To live daily in the awareness that I am never alone, and that My God has promised in His Word to provide aid and instruction for me as I need and rescue when I need it.  I shall walk by Faith, not fear!

Oh Lord, help me to live this day in the sweet presence of Your company and companionship.

Be blessed,
Jenny

The Break Up

photo provided by Dez Pain.

As a young girl (of about 8 or so?), a few of my brothers and sisters hid under my parents bed, and when I went into my folks room to find my mom one of them reached out and grabbed my feet.  Of course, they all thought it was hysterically funny and I’m sure broke into immediate laughter.  But by my recollection, from the moment of ‘first grab’ to the revealing that it was them hiding under the bed (as opposed to some horrid monster who was going to tear me to pieces and then eat me alive), it was several very long and terrifying minutes!  OK, so maybe I watched a few movies I shouldn’t have been watching at my age – but back then, families rallied around the TV to watch horror movies like The Birds and The Pit and The Pendulum as family bonding experiences.    Anyways, by the time they revealed themselves, I was so completely traumatized that for many years afterwards, I adopted a new routine for going to bed.  I flipped off the light switch, took three running steps, and then leapt onto my bed to avoid anything/anyone that could be hiding under it.

It’s now 2014 and I’m well past the age of hiding under a desk with my head between my knees.  But even now, whenever I hear the sound of a low-flying plane overhead, I am immediately transported back to elementary school where we were taught the principles of “Duck and Cover” and have to fight hard to resist the urge to look outside for signs of a crashing plane or bomb falling from the sky.

I guess I’m old enough to have had some “stuff” happen in my life … and if you’re reading this blog so have you, and there is more “stuff” on the horizon.  I’m not trying to speak pessimistically or out of a doom-and-gloom mentality.  I’m just being honest.  This world does not operate (at present) in accordance with God’s original design for it, nor are we enjoying (at present) all the victory and fellowship with the Father that God originally intended when He created us.  Sure we have mountain top experiences in life – can I get a whoot-whoot for the mountain top!!  Yea Baby!!

But alas, we don’t stay on the mountain tops, do we?   As described so beautifully by Hannah Hurnard in  “Hinds Feet On High Places” , residents of the High Places are called to routinely go back down into the Valley to encourage and invite others who would also make the journey upward.   And sometimes, I do visit the valleys from a position of strength so that I can encourage a valley dweller, and invite them to dare to journey outside the boundary lines of that kingdom and change their citizenship to that of a higher and better Kingdom.

But not always, and truth be told – not as often as I would like.  I would say that for most of my 53 years, when I visit the Valley, it is because I wasn’t wearing my armor  (read earlier post) nor watching where I was going, and next thing I knew … Ker plop!

Sooner or later, I always seem to make my way back down into any number of valleys;  the Valley of Humiliation, the Valley of Loss, the Valley of Loneliness, the Valley of insert name here, hanging out with my much detested former buddies – FEAR, SHAME and all the other family members of the FEARING family! Visiting a valley for God’s purposes is one thing.  Living in the valley’s is something altogether different.  I hate the valleys!

It was about a year or so ago that the Lord began showing me how much of my life has been influenced by FEAR.   I’ve let Fear steal so much from me!  Fear of failure.  Fear of loss.  Fear of what people with think.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of screwing up my kids.  Fear of being uncovered.  Fear of rejection.  You name it, I’ve probably been afraid of it.

Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!

 

But no more!  I am finished being romanced and courted by Fear!

It’s taken me a long time to figure it out, but praise God (and thanks to countless hours of listening to faith-filled teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyers, Charles Capps, and many others), I have finally gotten it through my head that God hates Fear!  And why, you ask?  Because FEAR is the complete opposite of FAITH!   Faith declares a positive confident hope and expectation in the Word and promises of God, while Fear declares a negative confidence and expectation in the inability of God to do what He has declared!  Once I finally saw it like that (like God see’s it), I made a decision!   

Me and Fear are “breaking up”!  And we are NOT going to get back together again!!   EVER!!!  

Sure, I know it’s going to require a lot of effort on my part to quit taking Fear’s calls, answering Fear’s emails, etc.   But I’m done with that liar Fear!  Who is with me??

Out of respect for your time, I’m going to close here and continue under separate posts which will be filed under a new Category entitled “FEAR NOT!”   I hope you will check back periodically, and also share your thoughts on this post in the comment section below.

Be blessed,
Jenny

911 – What’s your emergency?

The other day, my oldest daughter and I were practically rolling on the floor laughing!  She had one of those moments when she realized … gasp … that she is becoming more and more like her mom.  Hey, we’ve all had those moments – and not all of them are funny.  But this one was!!  Hysterical in fact!   And in the telling of her own ridiculously silly story, she reminded me of an incident back in the late 1990’s when we were still living in California.    But first a little background…

I have raised my two daughters, both married now to fine and godly men, as a single parent since they were 4 and 7.   And as a single parent, I think I felt the weight of keeping my family safe a little differently than many moms might – after all, there was no husband around to check out those bumps in the night.    In addition to being a light sleeper (listening for noises that don’t belong), I regularly checked the doors before going to bed, ‘cleared the house’ when we’d all been out for a considerable period of time, and all the other things that one does to protect their children.    After all, that’s what parents do.

Well, by the time of this particular event, my daughters were well into their teens, and I had just returned home from work about the same time as they arrived home from after school events.   It was while I was moving about the house that I discovered a rather large clump of ‘freshly cut hair’ in the bathroom.  You know, like when you go to the salon for a major style change and they cut off locks of hair which then fall to the floor in clusters (for example, large ringlets of wavy hair)?  Well, it was like that.  Like someone had cut their hair in my bathroom.  But this was just ONE clump of ‘freshly cut hair’, and it wasn’t ours!!!!

I was completely freaked out!   My brain could make no sense of this!  Feeling very violated and very vulnerable, I began to panic.  They tell me that with hair in hands, I ran back and forth through our little 900′ house chanting “what kind of pervert breaks into someone’s house to cut their hair???”  I was even considering calling the police!  I suspect it would have gone something like this:

FB_emergencyApp_911911 Operator:  911, what is your emergency?
Me:  I think someone broke into my house!
911 Operator:  Is there evidence of a break in?
Me:  No, not that I can find.
911 Operator:  Is anything missing?
Me:  No, not that I know of.
911 Operator:  What makes you think someone broke in to your home?
Me:  There is a clump of hair in the bathroom!!!

Well, you can imagine how that would have sounded!  Thankfully, my daughters are a lot smarter than their mom.  I now blame it on that strange mysterious thing that happens when you turn 40.  You know … when the brain kinda flickers on and off?   After about an hour of looking like a complete lunatic before my daughters, they both start laughing hysterically and point to a patch on the top of my head where my hair suddenly goes from about 8″ to only 2″ in length!   Yup, I had burned off my own hair with the curling iron that morning and didn’t even notice it!!!!   Which also means I also went to work looking like that!

Well, there is a reason to my telling this story … but you’re going to have to wait for it.  My youngest daughter,  still very much smarter than her mom, has pointed out that shorter blogs are preferred to long dissertations.  So you guessed it – this is a “Part 1 of 2” type of blog post.  But while you wait, hopefully you have had a good chuckle and maybe even remembered a few silly things you’ve done over the years.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine.”   (Proverbs 17:22a)

It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself, even better if others can laugh with you!!  Why don’t you add your own story to the comment section and we’ll keep the laughter going!

Be blessed,
Jenny

PS – don’t forget to check back next week for Part 2!!