This Sunday I very nervously went to the front and shared about how God is helping me with the fears in my life. I want to elaborate a little on what I shared for you to reflect on this week.
God has spoken very clearly about some things that He is asking me to be obedient with this year and as I have stepped out and followed His lead I have thought that I was living in faith but gradually I have allowed fear to creep in. It’s funny how subtle it can be, for me it often begins when people question my decisions. I feel a sudden urge to be able to tell them the future, how it’s all going to work out and how God will be with us whether the outcomes look “successful” or not. But as I seek to reassure people and calm their fears I notice that there are many questions I just don't have the answer to, I feel inadequate and foolish or misunderstood when I can’t explain the decisions that I have made and I gradually leave my place of dependence on God and begin to think that He is depending on me.
There are many things that God asks us to be obedient with as His children, and so often we can be prevented from obeying because of our fears. I mentioned today that God asks us to believe that what He says about us is true, that we obey Him if we believe the truth that we are created in His image, that He loves us, that He has chosen us and is pleased with us. When we allow negative thoughts about ourselves to creep in to our thinking, we are being disobedient to Him and instead of living in His love we become fearful of what others think of us. But it can be daunting to imagine living in freedom when we are so surrounded by fear. We end up feeling as if we have to guard our hearts at all costs because the pain of being rejected, ignored, ridiculed or disappointed is too much to bear.
The scriptures tell us to ‘guard your heart for everything you do flows from it’ (Proverbs 4:23) but the trap that I fall into so regularly is that I think the best person to guard my heart is me. When Jesus calls people hard hearted, He is talking about people like me. People who protect their hearts at all costs.
There is a reason why Jesus tells us to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength.’ He knows that the only way to guard our hearts is to give them to Him. Stop and think about it a minute, you wouldn’t get an enormous dog to guard your house and then stay up all night watching the door would you? That dog would be much better suited to hearing and scaring off invaders than you would be. So why do we commit our lives to God but continue to withhold our hearts from the one who made us, knows us and loves us perfectly? Why do we keep our ears and eyes open for any signs of rejection, betrayal and disapproval from the world around us when Jesus has already endured rejection, betrayal and disapproval at the cross and promises freedom and healing from the deep sense of shame that they leave in our lives.
As I recommitted my heart this week and rediscovered my desire to be obedient to all that God is asking me to do I felt a renewed sense of joy and pleasure in Him. Not because I suddenly had all the answers, not because I know that everyone is going to be ‘happy’ but because I was born to live my life in worship to Him, it is my joy to obey Him. He is the one with the plan and I find true freedom when I love Him with all of my heart, all of my mind and all of my strength.