Sunday, September 9, 2007

Thoughts on fear

The official theme of the Women's Retreat was The Battle Belongs to the Lord, complete with a flashback to Petra Praise. The unofficial theme was fear. Two of the main speakers and one of the workshops dealt specifically with fear and how often it can debilitate us and keep us from a closer relationship with God.

Saturday night my friend Rissa (GOTTA LOVE HER!) was sharing about the different battles through which God has brought her, and she gave biblical examples of different battles that were fought in the Old Testament. She mentioned Moses at the Red Sea made the comment that sometimes there is comfort in our dysfunction because we are accustomed to it, so we stay in an unhealthy place because we are afraid of the new. The Israelites said they should go back to Egypt, even though that had been a place of terrible oppression and suffering for them.

That example got me to thinking... and my thinking ended up in the seeds of a teaching that is quite alliterative. If you look at the account of God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, there are four stages of the journey:

1) Pharaoh (which I first called "captivity" but that doesn't start with an "f" sound) -- The Israelites started in captivity with an oppressive life full of back-breaking labor and death. They had family, but no freedom, no liberty to pursue dreams, to pursue purpose, or to pursue God. Their lives are compelled and controlled by an outside force that did not have their best interests at hear. When God hears their cries and sends a deliverer, they have to learn a completely new skill set.

2) Follow -- To follow, one must be aware of one's leader and trust him. There is no force involved in true following, which in and of itself was a stark difference from their lives in Egypt. The Israelites had to learn how to trust God's heart towards them, which was quite the challenge. But they did learn (sorta) how to follow, God provided for them a multitude of times. As we read about them, though, they often wanted to go back to Egypt. Why? Because at least they know what their days would be. There is a comfort in captivity if for no other reason than the unexpected isn't an option. There are no adventures upon which to embark, no challenges to rise up to meet, no potential failure or blundering because you just have to make bricks and you've been doing that your whole life.

The Israelites weren't the greatest followers -- they grumbled, doubted, disobeyed (glory, this is sounding familiar), but God kept leading and eventually they moved into The Promised Land. But they couldn't just walk on in. They had to learn another new skill set.

3) Fight -- If you read through the Old Testament, God had lots of different battle plans, and when the Israelites listened and obeyed, they were victorious.... but they weren't sitting in their Barco-Loungers. They actually had to GO OUT to meet the enemy. Sometimes -- like in 2 Chronicles 20, which was the passage for retreat -- God sets ambushes and the enemies destroy themselves. But sometimes the Israelites had to get out their swords and slay the enemy. And eventually they were transformed from feeble slaves to mighty warriors -- an army worthy of any opponent. And while this was an invaluable part of their journey, they had one more thing to learn.

4) Farm -- yep, they had to learn to farm. Even though the Promise Land was flowing with milk and honey (sounds sticky!), they still had to cultivate the land, maintain it, and defend it. But what a contrast from their starting place. No longer were they controlled and oppressed by a man who had only his own kingdom at heart, but they were loved and liberated by the love of the God who made them and called them into His kingdom.

And so I was thinking about my life, and specifically the internal issues that manifest in the food and body image arenas. I think that I am afraid of what comes with having a fit body. Irony of ironies, I'm afraid of being really attractive. When I was at my fittest, I received attention from another teacher at my old job and allowed myself to become quite emotionally attached even though he didn't share my faith. It wasn't a good situation. I'm afraid it'll happen again.

But I do long for freedom in this area. Not just losing the weight, but reclaiming my heart and actions and emotions for Christ. He's been calling me out of captivity and teaching me to follow Him in this area. And He has called me to fight -- to stand firm in His truth. I tend to curl up in the fetal position with a brownie. But freedom and victory can be mine because of the power of the One who lives in me.

That's flipping fantastic... once I start with the alliteration, it's difficult to finish...

marah jean

No comments:

Post a Comment