“The fears are paper tigers”
Fear in the right situations is good and provides us with a healthy caution. But more often it just produces undue stress and anxiety. It will often start as a mere thought that then creates emotions that then impact our decisions and actions.
Fear is a weapon of the enemy. He uses it to manipulate our behaviour. Fear can stop us from walking in our destiny and can destroy our enjoyment of life. And that is exactly what the enemy wants to achieve!
Fear is after our faith. In fact fear is the opposite of faith. It causes us to doubt God and to make our fears the loudest voice in our lives. When we are in faith, it opens the door for God to work in our lives. Fear does the opposite and gives the enemy control.
We need to learn not to fear the fear! To see our fears as paper tigers. For paper tigers cannot harm us. For fear is not reality. It says in Psalm 23 “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” A shadow, like paper tigers cannot cause us harm, for God is there with us.
We need to face our fears with faith.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, NIV)
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)
“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)
Slippery slides slip you down
Swinging swings swing you up and down
Giant poles try to hold everything up without moving
Pointy ladders climb you up
Climby monkey bars hold you still
Spinning roundabouts get you…dizzy…
(Poem- At the Playground)
My 8 year old wrote this poem. A great description of a playground. A great description of life! In life we all have circumstances that pull us down rather like the slides. We have seasons for progress, of moving forward or upward like climbing up ladders. And sometimes we have those busy seasons in life that leave you…well…dizzy!
We read in Ecclesiastes that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” In life there is change. As much as a child goes from a swing to a slide, we move through different seasons. Seasons that welcome new babies into the family, seasons of change on the work front. Seasons of rest and seasons of pouring out. Friends gained and friends lost. Good seasons, hard seasons, joyful seasons.
It is my prayer that whatever the season we walk through it with God, with His grace, strength and wisdom.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)
Equilibrium: – a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces
Equilibrium. We use it to describe balance in market forces, to define that equal point in opposing powers and influence. However with the exception of those times when we lose our equanimity we don’t use it in reference to our own lives. But it does imply a life of sustainability, a life of balance. It’s when our output is balanced by our input. When our work is balanced by our times of rest. It means no matter what we’re doing we’re living from a place of rest.
Everyone’s point of equilibrium is different. And what is input into one’s life for one person could be considered output for another. Input is about doing something that nourishes your soul and lifts your spirit. Rest for me is a cup of coffee and a good book. Rest for a friend is a 10 kilometre run…even when it rains!
It’s about finding your rhythm – the pace of life that works for you. Equilibrium is also about being true to the season that you are in and embracing it. With a little baby in the house my season involves nights at home and days that revolve around his naps and feed times. It’s school runs and marmite sandwiches and standing on the sidelines for cross country runs. So I have my nappy bag and an umbrella (for the sidelines!). I also have my local café for the coffee fix!
Sometimes we need to take that step back, recalibrate perhaps, and ensure that our life is in balance. That we are indeed living in equilibrium.
“Our hearts will take us where our heads can’t fit.” (Bill Johnson)
My nine year old is studying space at school. He has us outside most nights pointing to the various constellations and planets that he can now recognise. With it has come a plethora of questions. Questions of Galaxies and Universes. Imaginations of what it would be like to live on Mars or travel in space. Questions too as to what people who lived around the time of Galileo and Copernicus believed about space. Did they know of the existence of other galaxies? Did they think travelling to space would ever be possible? Staring up at the stars ourselves, it is even hard to think that such a thing actual occurs today.
Back in the 16th Century I don’t think they would have been able to conceive how much more there is to know about space. Just as we know today that even with our advancements in technology and accumulated knowledge we are still only scratching the surface of what space holds.
It’s rather like our faith. We only see in part and cannot fully comprehend God, His love for us and His ways. A lot of the time we won’t have all the answers for what happens in life or know why things occur. It wouldn’t be faith if we could reason out and comprehend all. Faith is about mystery. It is about choosing to trust in God and place our complete confidence in Him despite what we face or even what others say.
We can be assured though of this, God loves us and is true to His promises. Lysa Terkeurst puts it well when she said “If God is good and God is good to me, then I must fill in the gaps of the unknowns of my life with a resounding statement of trust. God is good at being God. I don’t have to figure my present circumstances out. All I have to do is trust.”
“We will not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but will be strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He promised He is able to perform.” (Romans 4:20-21)
“The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries that we can’t explain.” (Bill Johnson)
The roads were busy. Road works seemingly everywhere. Everything just felt busy. People driving to work, to appointments, to coffee, to wherever. My to do list felt as long as the traffic queued in front of me. The city was alive, on the go, and yes busy.
Yet in a central suburb is an oasis, a different world. A park, a farm. Where new lambs had been born and daffodils were tilting their faces to the sun. Where people gathered and lingered over coffee, or went for a stroll or just simply sat in the sun. In amongst the busyness it was a place of serenity, of peace. A space away from the noise and urgency of the city that lay outside its stone walls.
Life is busy. There’s always something to be done, an email to be sent, someone to call, an appointment to make, chores to be done. But in amongst this busyness we all need a stone wall behind which there is a space to rest, to recharge. That counter balance to our work where we turn aside from our agendas and pressures. That place and time of quiet retreat to recenter our soul, to refresh our spirit.
That rest. That Sabbath.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions.” (Henri Nouwen)
I was having one of those “meh” days. Heading out late one evening to buy bread to make what felt like my millionth marmite sandwich for boys’ lunches, I wondered if in the scheme of Heaven I’d made any impact, made a difference at all that day for someone. My eyes then alighted on a Church’s billboard with the words “what you do and how you live matters.” A timely reminder that we do makes a difference. And if I needed anymore of a reminder a friend then made me aware of a Facebook posting she had made two years ago that I wasn’t aware of.
“Yesterday we moved into our new house in Auckland. And today for the first time in my life, a neighbour has brought us cupcakes to welcome us to the neighbourhood. I thought that just happened in movies. Kiwis you rock!”
That was me! (Surprisingly given my inconsistent record when it comes to baking!) On that ordinary day two years ago, I had a thought to take some cupcakes round to our new neighbours to say hi and welcome! On that day it seems I made a difference even though I was unaware of the fact.
There are so many ways that we can extend the love of God to those around us. From a smile, to a helping hand, to an encouraging conversation we can bring light into the darkness around us. We need to remind ourselves to look at our lives through Heaven’s eyes. Heaven’s perspective is different to ours and often values what we write off. Even in the mundane, the little or the seemingly insignificant moments we can and do bring glory to God. We shine His light.
“You will shine…like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:15)
(PS: Image is not of the cupcakes I made! Sadly!)