Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gripped by Stupidity

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:1

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear is stupid.

I am positively convinced that stupidest thing you or I can ever do is let ourselves get caught up in fear and let it dictate our decisions. It is utter madness. But we do it so often, because we don't even realize we're doing it. We do things under the guise of protecting ourselves when really what we're doing is saying no to the callings and the blessings and the wonderful things God has for us, if we'd only step out on the limb and take a chance on them.

So often, we're just stupid. And it is such a shame.

Have you ever stopped to think about what it is you're afraid of? What is it that has you so paralyzed with fear? And why?

Insecurity? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Failure? Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5

Rejection? He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

In the summer of 2007, God made it clear to me that He wanted me to move from my hometown of Bedford, Pennsylvania to Raleigh, North Carolina. I visited my newly-married best friends there in August, and it was as if I had stepped into the very center of the Holy Spirit. God pointed and said "GO," and not just "GO," but "GO NOW!" There was absolutely no question in my mind: He wanted me there. He had a future for me there. He had blessing and anointing and purpose for me there and nothing else significant was going to happen in my life until I went.

So, by September, I had an apartment waiting for me in Raleigh. I was finishing up my part-time job at the local art gallery and framing shop in my hometown, while packing and making plans to move.

To a casual observer, the move itself seemed crazy. I didn't have a job in Raleigh. I didn't even have enough furniture to furnish the apartment. Plus, Raleigh is, like, a city. I come from a tiny farming town - just driving in more than two lanes of traffic turned me into a nervous wreck. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was scared. (Yes, I followed God to England by myself twice, but North Carolina terrified me. I know - stupid!)

I'd been working in the framing shop for about two months. It was the nicest job I'd ever found in my town. Several local artists would bring their work in to be framed and sold, and they would talk to me about literature and theatre and traveling abroad. My hometown was safe. Almost unbearably boring most of the time, but still, safe.

And so, one night as I was driving home from work, I found myself thinking about just staying in Bedford. "I could work in the framing shop and keep talking to the artists," I thought. "Maybe that would be ok. Maybe that would be enough."

God immediately interrupted my thoughts with something He has never said to me before: "It's your choice."

I started. I hadn't even realized how deliberate my thoughts had been. Also, I didn't realize that God was, like, listening. (Again with the stupid!) It was startling. Up until that point, God had never given me an option. Usually, He pointed and I went and that was it, no questions asked.

But God said again, "It's your choice. It's up to you. But you know what I have for you in Raleigh. If you stay here, can you honestly say that in 20 years you won't look back and wonder what could have been?"

Dangit. He knew I couldn't.

And now, a year and a half later, three apartments and debt and unemployment and fights with my friends and my second-ever heartbreak and finally, a job and a wonderfully supportive church family and my own poodle puppy and more inspiration than I could ever have dreamed of later...I truly wouldn't change a thing. Because God has worked, mightily and palpably and sometimes shockingly, through absolutely everything, and I am closer to Him now than I ever knew I could possibly be.

It would have been so stupid of me to stay in safe little Bedford. I would have missed out on so much.

(Side note: I'm sitting in Applebees with a mango martini and spinach dip in front of me as I write this. The manager just walked by and asked, "How's all that working out for you?" I replied, "Very well, thank you!" If only he knew.)

The bottom line is that anything we are unfamiliar with, anything new God calls us to do, is going to seem scary at first. It's unknown. So many things could happen. It could blow up in your face. You could get hurt. God never promised us a life without trials. When I was growing up, my dad always said, "Anything that's worth doing, you're going to want to quit at least once." I've found that to be maddeningly accurate.

But, happily, God did promise us that He knows what He's doing and there is absolutely no reason for fear.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

What is it that is making you afraid? A new job? A new calling? A new...risk? Think about it - if you turn it down, can you honestly say that in 20 years you won't look back and wonder what could have been?

It's up to you. But please, I implore you, don't let yourself be gripped by stupidity. Don't say no to all the glorious blessings God has for you because of stupid, irrelevant, pointless fear.

Believe me, it would be such a shame.


Kayla said...

LOL. Love the first line. It's perfect. The rest is good, too, but the first line just hit home. I may just be saying that to myself every hour for the next 2 months.

Kimberley said...

I know I've heard this before, but I loved reading it written out like this. You're amazing and such a gift to me. Plus, this post is very good for me to read RIGHT NOW with all that's happeing... :) *hugs*