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Posts from the ‘Fear’ Category

Over at Ungrind Today

Today, I'm over at Ungrind with my article The Peace Bubble. If you haven't visited Ungrind before, drop by for lots of interesting and inspiring articles. You won't be sorry. Hope to see you there.

"Walking into the hospital, a multitude of memories rush in...

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Marilynne Robinson & the Image Bearers – Festival of Faith & Writing 2012

“Which ‘image of God’ is it that you wish to harm?” Marilynne Robinson asked in her plenary talk to an auditorium full of writers, artists and readers at this year’s Festival of Faith and Writing

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Unraveling History: Learning about Courage from an Old Suitcase

Never say never. Three little words spoken often by my mother during my childhood still ring in my ears to this day. My “never” would usually come in a statement like, “I’d never be able to do that.” Mom was always quick to respond with those three words. I learned pretty quickly, her words often proved true. Wise woman, my mother. Last January, I shared here about themes I felt a connection to, as I stepped into 2011. All three themes have woven their way through my year, but one keeps resurfacing, bobbing up and down like a buoy thrown about in rough waters. Courage. A reminder to persevere when those gale force winds blow my way.

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Running Scared: Insights from a Chicken & The Faith of Jonathan

Why did the chicken cross the road? This morning I was given an answer to this question: To get away from the crazy lady trying to snap a picture with her iPhone.

If you’ve visited Bella Verita before, you might be aware I live in what I affectionately call “the woods.” I’ve named my driveway (an understandably odd thing to do) “The Road Less Travelled,” which isn’t entirely accurate. Anytime we leave our house or come home, we travel the well-worn gravel driveway. Yet something about the name conjures up images of a far away, distant place and given the length of our driveway, it seems fitting.

Living in the woods, we’ve realized over the years we’re not alone. We’re surrounded by wildlife – deer, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, possums, woodchucks, field mice, frogs, turtles, the occasional (thankfully) coyote, hawks and all kinds of birds, even wild turkeys. I’m no stranger to opening my back door only to find some animal peering back at me. I’m not usually taken by surprise, until this morning.

Driving down our long gravel road, something was bobbing around, a bit flustered in the brush on the side of the road. I slowed down, in an effort to respect the wildlife. At first glance, I thought it was a wild turkey. Then I got a closer look and heard the faint sound of clucking. This was no turkey. It was a bona fide chicken.

Never in the nine years we’ve lived in “the woods” have I come across a wandering chicken. I’d recently read in a Country Living article that chickens are somewhat friendly creatures. Armed with this knowledge, I parked my car and walked in the direction of my feathery friend to get a closer look.

At the realization I was approaching, the poor bird immediately became panic-stricken and began clucking loudly. She darted furiously, bobbing side to side down the road, before crossing the street, to get as far away from me and my pint-sized camera as possible. Back to the car I went, somewhat sad to have frightened the hen. I drove a few feet down the road and parked again, hoping to catch another glimpse unnoticed and maybe even a picture.

The chicken had sought refuge under a grove of pines and I could hear her nervous clucking. As the clucking subsided, she peeked out and seeing me, once again, headed in the opposite direction, as fast as her spiny legs could carry her. With no hope of catching her on film, I gave up, picture-less and retreated to my car. I drove away leaving the terrified bird seeking solace in the shade of the pines, hoping I’d not driven her into a molting frenzy.

Jonathan & His Armor Bearer

Later in the day, I was reading 1 Samuel 14. King Saul and six hundred Israelite soldiers were encamped on the outskirts of Gibeah, at war with the Philistine army. While Saul was apparently staying “under a pomegranate tree,” his son, Jonathan, decided to get a closer look at the enemy encamped nearby. To do so, he needed to climb up to their outpost, which was perched up on cliffs above the Israelite camp. Jonathan is accompanied only by his young armor bearer, to whom he says, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few.” His armor bearer responds without hesitation, “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Jonathan climbs up to the camp, with his armor bearer right behind him. Spotting them, “the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.” In this one attack, the two men overcame twenty. Then a panic sent by God struck the whole Philistine camp, so fierce that the ground shook. Realizing something was up, Saul roused his men to battle. “They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords.” Many of them ran away with the Israelites in hot pursuit. 1 Samuel 14:23 says, “The Lord rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.”

Insights from a Chicken Encounter

I’m moved by the bravery and courage of both Jonathan and his young armor bearer. Jonathan’s actions were based on the solid faith he had in his God. He knew if the Lord was for them, no one could act against them, regardless of the odds. The Philistine soldiers he surprised “fell” before him. Not because of who Jonathan was, but because God was with him. God already had a plan in this battle on a cliff. He gave Jonathan the victory.

In discussing how the armor bearer was committed to Jonathan’s authority, Beth Moore in her study, David: Seeking a Heart Like His, makes the point that the armor bearer did not get to choose the battle. His master did. The young man trusted him and followed closely behind. Jonathan went before him to take the blows of the enemy. Moore states, as followers of Christ, we don’t get to choose our battles. But we can be confident that if God calls us into a personal battle, He is leading the way and the enemy is powerless before Him. In Him, we can have victory.

Like my friend, the rusty hen, I sometimes find myself fighting the urge to run the other way when faced with the looming giants in my life. Battles not of our own choosing can send us running haywire down the road like scared chickens. Jonathan and his faithful armor bearer inspire us to stand strong in the faith, in the midst of our trials. After all, if the Lord is for us who can be against us.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress

Suspicious of Grace

Light streamed into the room, waking us from slumber a little after 6:30 on Christmas morning. Standing in the doorway was my five year old son, jubilant and grinning with wonder. “Thanks mom and dad! I love my presents!” His happiness so great, all my husband and I could mumble back in response was, “You’re welcome, J.” Had he temporarily forgotten opening presents in our home was a shared experience or simply been overcome by the excitement of knowing good gifts awaited him at the foot of a towering, glimmering tree?

Years have come and gone since that five year old burst into our room. The picture has stayed with me, deeply ingrained in a treasure trove of memories. His unassuming nature and confidence in two flawed parents, who loved him deeply, shaped who he was as a child. A little boy who would never question if he was the intended recipient of the many gifts wrapped in red and green. No suspicions of what might be required, if the gifts were accepted. An absurd thought to a child. Without question, he knew he was the intended recipient to an abundance of gifts, given out of love. No strings attached. Just love and grace.

As a newly married bride, I remember being overwhelmed by the grace shown me by my husband. It didn’t make any sense. I knew he loved me, but to cover over mistakes and offenses with a generous helping of grace was beyond my comprehension. I expected anger, harsh words or a cold look, at the least. None of these were given. All of them, out of character with the man I married; the husband I loved. Yet the reality of my life experiences made me hesitant. Anything but the harshness I’d expected, made me, for a time, slightly suspicious. Unlike my son, I was suspicious of grace.

Over a period of time, I realized grace was freely given in love. In fact, grace defined our relationship. I was overwhelmed by it. How could someone love me so much, he’d overlook the very things I knew were wrong? Grace changed me. The grace of a loving husband.

How much more the grace of God? We experience so much negativity in our lives, often we walk around a bit shell-shocked, hunching down, preparing for the next strike, the next bad thing to happen. Why is it we’re suspicious of grace? We’ve heard God loves beyond measure, lavishly providing good things to his children. Yet rather than looking up & seeking Him, we go about biding our time; sure that something bad is inevitable, just around the corner. We live precariously walking a fine line, certain any gaze upward will be met with nothing but anger and disappointment. Living as imperfect people among other imperfect people, we’ve conditioned ourselves to expect the worst. Never realizing, we’re viewing God through our understanding of human nature. But that’s just it, God isn’t defined by flawed human nature. He is perfect. Divine. His responses of love make no sense in light of our understanding. So with our focus in the wrong direction, we never look up long enough to see the blessings laid right before us.

How much more does God freely give good gifts to his children? Allowing nagging doubt and fear to force our eyes to our feet robs us of the pleasure of these gifts. Why not look up expectantly, knowing even when difficult circumstances are allowed in our path, God has good gifts to give, reserved just for us. Each of us. Everyday.

Like a small child racing down the stairs to receive gifts from loving, generous parents, how much more joy might there be in racing to our Father in heaven, seeking Him with the knowledge that He is good? He longs to see joy on our faces, particularly when that joy comes from knowing Him, the one who gives immeasurably more than all we could ever hope or imagine.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress