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Faith > Fear

Fear is a deceptive and paralyzing force that takes root in the most innocent and natural of human concerns such as failure, loneliness and rejection, just to name a few.

But fear never stops where it starts.

Fear and worry multiply like rabbits and if they aren’t put to death in a New York minute, they can easily wind up trapping their victim in a box called “common sense” that’s roughly the size of a comfort zone.

From afar, the common sense box looks safe and logical but, up close, the box is actually a stuffy tomb devoid of real peace and joy. Although the box itself isn’t necessarily a bad box, it can become a bad box if Jesus is standing on the outside of it, calling His follower to step out in faith and join him.

When it comes to heeding the call and following Jesus in the face of fear there are only two options.

The first is to say, “Thanks but no thanks, Jesus. I’m just going to stay here in my box.”

Although Jesus will never force us to relent or drag us out of the box, we miss out on the fulness of God’s plan if we decide to stay inside our comfort zone. When we deny the Sprit’s call, we reap the joyless, restless consequences of that decision.

Just take Jonah for example.

God called Jonah to Nineveh and gave him the task of proclaiming righteousness and holiness to the lost. It was a great responsibility that fulfilled a real need but there was a big problem. Jonah was afraid. The people of Nineveh were a rough crowd and Jonah had his concerns about what fate would befall him in that hostile place. So, instead of heeding the call, he ran.

Jonah’s next move was to escape by boat. He thought he could flee the call of God and be free of fear but stormy consequences followed him. Soon waves buffeted the boat and threatened the lives of everyone on board. After questioning the passengers, everyone agreed that Jonah was to blame for their misfortune. Because Jonah had denied God, they had all become cursed.

What happened next must have made Jonah wish he’d gone to Nineveh in the first place. In the middle of the storm, the passengers on the boat lifted Jonah up and overboard. He landed in the ocean where he was swallowed by a gigantic whale. Still alive inside the whale’s belly, Jonah had a “come to Jesus moment.” He prayed, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7)

As soon as Jonah asked God for forgiveness and recommitted his life to salvation’s cause, God responded by ordering the whale to spit Jonah up. Once back on dry land, God gave His fearful follower, Jonah, a second chance to heed the call.

What happened next in Jonah’s story is our second option when confronted with the call of God: choose faith over fear and bravely obey.

That’s what Jonah did and the results were incredible. When Jonah told the Ninevites about God they repented of their sins, ceased worshipping false idols and returned to the Lord. Their response to God’s mercy was miraculous.

From Jonah’s life story we learn that fear is debilitating but faith is empowering. Fear weakens but faith strengthens. Fear creates a coward but faith cultivates bravery. Fear gets in the way but faith will always make a way.

When confronted with fear, brave faith is needed to ignite courageous obedience. To overcome fear the follower of Jesus must consistently, constantly and confidently chose to walk by faith and not by fear. As children of the Most-High King we must determine to heed the call of Jesus on the basis of who He is and not the conditions of His command.

So next time fear comes knocking at your door, don’t answer it. Instead, return to faith and recommit to following Jesus. Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, take the next obedient step of faith and heed the call.

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Subject to Change

It’s official.
On March 31st, with a Uhaul truck and returned security deposit, I’m hitting the road again and moving home…again.
Over the past eight years I have played relocation hop-scotch across the eastern United States. Long-time Pippy Love followers will remember that it all began in Sarasota, Florida on a 1,200 mile adventure to regain my health. At least, that was my plan until every detail of my agenda was turned upside down and changed due to declining health. Before I knew it, I was on the road again and headed back home again.
Next stop was a move to the village town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio followed by a journey back down to the Sunshine state. Both moves were made with pure intentions but neither one went according to my plan. After each failed relocation I hit the road and headed home…again.
Then, when I was absolutely sure I could not take one more ping-pong move, my plans changed. Before I knew it I was standing in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with a Lyme Disease diagnosis and a Uhaul truck to unpack. That was a year ago now and once again, my plans have changed. I’m on the road again. I’m moving home again.
To be honest, as much as I love my parents and childhood home, living at home in my twenties was not part of my plan. The broadest sketch of my plan included marriage and home ownership, not ailing health and a fixed up “apartment” in my parent’s basement. But my plans have been utterly destroyed and dramatically, fundamentally changed by the correcting, perfecting hand of God.
With every relocation and return home I have learned that every plan I make is subject to God’s perfecting change. When I plan and plot with a pure, surrendered heart He is faithful to transfigure and transform my moves by the renewing of His cleansing grace. Because He is merciful and loving, God restores my plans and sets them on the right road again. He brings them back home and back to the heart of His Son, Jesus Christ, again.

At every failed move God has furthered loosened my grip on my plans. He has weakened my hold on my will in order that I be free to grasp all the tighter to the Lord, Jesus Christ. In His infinite wisdom, God has used moving here, there and always back home again to soften my rigid heart. He has changed my plans to change my heart and transform it with the fluidity of Christ’s amazing forgiveness and grace.

I’m about to hit the road and move back home again…at least, that’s my plan.
But as you well know everything is completely subject and surrendered to God’s most good and glorious change.