The Thick Darkness

candleIf we think that following God means a life that never extends beyond our comfort zone, we have greatly misunderstood Him.  Often, God calls us to do the very thing that sends fear coursing through our body.

What then?  How will we respond when God commands us to face our fear of failure or rejection? What if God calls us into the dark place of loss and devastation?  We must be willing to go wherever He is.

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightening and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off… – Exodus 20:18

There is a passage in 1 Kings that I have read many times and I’ve heard many sermons preached from it.  It talks about God being, not in the earthquake and fire, but in a whisper.  That is true – sometimes we look for a big production from God and miss His still small voice.

How do we respond, however, when He does come in thunder and lightening?  We like the idea of a gentle whisper, but are we still anxious to draw near when there is a smoking mountain and a thick darkness?  What happens when fear stands between where we are and where He is?  What then?

The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.  – Exodus 20:21

As people of God, we must draw near to Him wherever He may be.  We must have the faith that says, as did  Mary Gardiner Brainard, I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.  

When God is calling us into a place that seems dark and scary, we cannot stand far off in fear.  We must, like Moses, embrace the thick darkness if that is where we find Him.

Trusting God’s Provision

Lack of provision is my biggest fear.

It seems, no matter how many times God provides for my needs, I fear that this time may just be the time that He doesn’t come through. It’s a constant cycle of me fearing, God providing, me repenting, only to end with me fearing once more.

Here I am in Exodus following the children of Israel through the wilderness. I hear their grumbling and, for the first time, recognize it as fear. He freed them, but would He protect them? He protected them, but would He feed them? He fed them, but would He remain with them?

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Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you…” – Exodus 16:4

The Lord promises His provision. He tells them that, come morning, they would be filled with bread. You would think that they would have rushed out at sunrise to gather up the bread. God had never failed to keep His word to them.

Yet, they seem to look around hesitantly. They see something on the ground, but it isn’t something they have seen before.

When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. – Exodus 16:15

As I read those verses, I just kept thinking that we do not always recognize God’s provision. Perhaps, it’s because we have our preconceived notions of how we thought He would provide. God’s way of providing often includes something new. Maybe it’s a new job that we didn’t even want. A new city. New friends. Sometimes, God may take away something that was no longer working for us in order to provide something better. It can be scary. We have to ask ourselves, “Do we want God to provide or not?”

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Make no mistake; God will provide.

Just don’t be afraid when you look around and think, “What is it?”

Grab Fear by the Tail

I only have a few moments this morning. Two children are doing math, two are playing and the baby is crying. It is very loud at the moment, y’all!

I just wanted to share a quick little word from my reading this morning. I have made it into the book of Exodus (yay, me!) and read the conversation between God and Moses. Basically, it went something like this:

God: Go and speak.

Moses: Why me?

God: Go and speak.

Moses: I can’t.

God: Go and speak.

Moses: They won’t listen.

God: Go and speak.

Don’t you love how our excuses never change God’s instructions?

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Then, God tells Moses to throw down his staff. Upon hitting the ground, the staff becomes a serpent. Moses took off running because, hello, snake on the ground.

Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.” – Exodus 4:3-4

The staff becomes a snake. Moses runs in fear. God says to grab it by the tail.

I wonder what it is that you are currently running from. What is it that you fear and are not wanting to deal with?

Perhaps, God is calling you to reach out and grab it by the tail.

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Stacy ❤

Dare to be Disappointed

And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” – Genesis 48:11 ESV

As far as Israel knew, his son had been dead for years. He had no reason to expect to see Joseph’s face again on earth. No reason to hope for a surprise reunion. It would never have even occurred to him to ask for such a thing.

Isn’t that just like God to go above and beyond?

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Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “I never expected…”? I know I have.

And I can’t help but wonder what other mysteries I may have missed out on.

You do not have because you do not ask. – James 4:2 ESV

Why don’t we ask? Many times, we fear disappointment. Our longings come from this tender place within us and we fear the damage that another disappointment may cause.

What if we didn’t fear disappointment? What if, instead, we lived boldly unafraid?

Then, we too could say, ” I never expected…and, behold, God…”

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think… – Ephesians 3:20 ESV

What are you not asking for because you fear disappointment?

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Stacy ❤

4 Steps to Living Unafraid

Adam was afraid in Genesis 3 and he hid in the bushes.

Sarah was afraid in Genesis 18 and she lied.

Lot was afraid in Genesis 19 and he hid in a cave.

Isaac was afraid in Genesis 26 and he lied.

That seems to be the go-to response to fear. We hide or we lie. Sometimes, we do both. What else are we supposed to do?

darkness

How should we respond when fear rears its ugly head? When we get that diagnosis? When there is more month than money? When friends walk away? When jobs are deleted? When hearts get broken and dreams get dashed?

We could lie.

Everything is fine.

I can handle it.

We could hide.

We could stay in our pajamas and binge-watch Making a Murderer on Netflix. We can skip church and cancel plans with friends.

The enemy would love for us to lie and hide. The problem is that lying and hiding never takes away the fear. It only covers it in shame. What should we do when we feel the anxiety creep in and the tension take over?

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Jacob and Esau were brothers.  Many years ago, Jacob had lied and stolen his brother’s blessing. When he learned that Esau intended to kill him, Jacob fled for his life. Now, after much time had passed, God told Jacob to go back home.

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. – Genesis 32:7 ESV

Not just nervous. Not a little uncomfortable. Jacob was greatly afraid. He did four things that helped him be obedient in the face of his fear.

4 Steps to Living Unafraid

  1. Turn to God. “And Jacob said, ‘O God…” (Genesis 32:9.) What if our first response to fear was prayer?
  2. Acknowledge your place before God. “I am not worthy…” (Genesis 32:10.) What if we didn’t try to solve our own problems and, instead, realized that we were never meant to go it alone?
  3. Confess your fear. “I fear him…” (Genesis 32:11.) What if we didn’t play the I’m-okay-you’re-okay game?
  4. Remember God’s promise. “But you said…” (Genesis 32:12.) What if we stopped focusing on our fears and, instead, pondered God’s promises?

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Let’s begin, today, living unafraid.

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Stacy ❤