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Faith vs. Fear January 24, 2011

Posted by orualundone in Change, Faith Journey, Fears, Promises, Trust.
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I’ve been listening to some old sermons from the church I used to go to (and still would if it weren’t much to long of a drive). It’s a nice way to start the day with my morning bike commute, and the pastor there is a truly gifted speaker. I haven’t been there in the past three years, so I have plenty of sermons to keep me occupied. The ones I’ve been listening to lately seem to have a very apt theme for my life (and no, I didn’t know what they were about when I downloaded them!) They all seem to be about change, upheaval, stepping out on faith, following God even when it seems crazy, depending on God even in our darkest and most frightening times.

We are now at the 15 week mark from our proposed departure and frankly, I am terrified. I question if this is the right thing to do, if we’re being stupid and reckless. I wonder if I’m being ungrateful by throwing away the good job and health benefits God has provided me with, by leaving all the friends and the support network he’s given us. I fret over how there always seems to be less money than I thought there would be, and worry about how will I ever get a job, or without one, how we will find an apartment with 3 cats and only so-so credit.

In fact, I am currently in a state of panic so acute that it drives out nearly every other thought in my head. It paralyzes me and tries to prevent me from doing nearly everything that I need to do in order to prepare for this transition, including write and look for a job. It’s hard to overcome, but the words I’ve been hearing on my ipod every morning have been a great help to me in combating it.

Three things I’ve learned from my recent sermon-listening that really came home to me in this time of fear and worry:

1) Fear and faith are two sides of the same coin. They both involve believing in things that haven’t happened yet. But fear means you’ve let your mind assume the worst will happen and that God won’t save, while stepping out on faith means that you are believing that God will come through just as he promised. So why do you think the fear option is more likely to come true than the faith option?

2: If you are facing opposition, either mental or physical, then you are probably on the right track. I think about stepping out on faith and I hear whispers telling me I’m being ungrateful, foolish, wasteful. I hear that no one will want to hire me, ever, and that I’m making a huge mistake. I should stay where I am and be grateful for what I have. Don’t rock the boat, make a fuss, or try to chase silly dreams. But I don’t think those whispers are from God.

You see, my fear and uncertainty has forced me to turn to God in a way that never would have happened if I were just continuing on with my life and my soul-crushing job. In fact, I probably would have continued to drift further away from him. The enemy knows this. The last thing he wants is for me to put my life on the line and to turn to God whenever I feel fear and uncertainty. He would much rather have me stay where I am.

3: He will be with me, wherever I go. Scripture records at least 46 references to God, Jesus, his Spirit, or his grace being with his people. I don’t think it matters as much where I go, but rather that I have God with me. He has always provided for me exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it, in such a way that I knew that it was credit to him and not through my own work. And the times when I have been closest to him have been the times when I was closest to the edge.

It’s hard to get past the fear, and even harder not to give credit to the whispers telling me I’ve misjudged everything. But I know in my heart that God is the one leading me. That may not end up looking like what I think it will look like, or even put me where I think I’m headed, but I know he’s leading me and the more fear I feel the closer it will drive me to him.

Plans and Schemes December 27, 2010

Posted by orualundone in Attitude, Fears, Peace, Worry.
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There’s nothing like spending time with your family to drive home the ways in which you are (and sometimes aren’t) like them. My parents were here for a week over Christmas, which can be stressful for everyone since our apartment was not really designed to accommodate 4 adults, 5 cats, 1 dog, and an over-large Christmas tree. Still, I think we all handled it relatively well. Despite some nerve-getting-on by various parties and a few spirited debates over things such as whether the government is actually hiding aliens from the American people, a pleasant holiday was had by all. I think.

Of course, the things that irritate you the most about your family are often the traits that you yourself have and don’t particularly like. In my case I was unreasonably frustrated with my father’s incessant scheming and planning throughout the whole trip. He was constantly trying to find the best deal, save the most money, make the best plan to get home in the face of various possible weather scenarios, and plan their summer trip for his maximum advantage. Every time some new bit of information about the impending winter storm, the price of butter at a particular store, or the predicated cost of gas in Texas next June he would recalculate all his plans, including multiple contingency plans in case this or that factor changed.

It drove me up. the. wall. Of course, I do exactly the same thing. I am just as obsessive, just as nervous and probably just as irritating when I get it in to my head that I’m going to do something that requires advance preparation. I make endless lists, itineraries, and back-up plans. I get quotes on costs, reviews, and gather vast amounts of data on whatever it is I want to do, whether it’s buy a new toaster, take a vacation, or plan our weekend get-together. Sometimes this a good trait (I’m great at safety preparedness), but often I take it too far and waste more time than Isave by obsessing over what could go wrong or whether I’m getting the best deal or if something better might be out there. When I’m indecisive it’s often because I’m terrified of not making the most out of my time, money, energy by choosing the second-best thing. Of course at some point this wastes time, energy, money on its own and shows a complete lack of trust in God’s provision.

Right now I have a lot to obsess and worry over. In the next 4-5 months my husband and I are planning on quitting our jobs and moving across the country to a strange city where we know virtually no one. We are doing this without any assurance of future employment, income, or health insurance. And all the apartment research, job hunting, moving quotes, and lists of best neighborhoods and hottest careers in the area will not actually prevent this from being an unmitigated disaster.

We are moving because we truly believe that this is where we are being called, where we belong. It will give both of us more opportunities to follow the dreams God has given us, and to live on less money while doing so. But we could very easily fall flat on our faces while attempting it. We could be vastly misinterpreting what God is telling us. Or he may prevent us from moving entirely, showing us a completely different plan for our lives that may involve us staying put. Or he may send us somewhere we never expected.

But if I allow myself to fixate on planning to the extent that it becomes an obsession, then I will not hear his voice if he tells me we’re on the wrong track, or that he has something better for me than I have dreamed for myself. Yes, if we are going to move I do need to make some plans, look for a job, look for an apartment, save up the money. But I also need to accept that the only way it is going to happen is through his grace and provision. And that even though we feel very certain about this, he may still tell us no.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

This is one of those verses that I’ve probably read (or skimmed past) 100 times and yet never actually saw before. I find it amazingly comforting today. It frees me from that burden of making everything happen, of achieving all my own plans and dreams and schemes. It’s fine that I have things that I want, and that I want to work towards them. But ultimately, God’s plan will be fulfilled whether I go with it or fight it. If God truly want us to pick up our lives and make a new start, then he will provide exactly what we need to do that, just as he has in the past so many times before. But if he has another future for us, all my scheming in that direction won’t get us anywhere. The only thing struggling against his plan for my life will accomplish is to make the journey longer and more painful than it needs to be. My only job is to not hold on so tightly to my own dreams that I cannot hear him whisper his own, far superior dreams to me.