Fear and faith: It's a heck of a journey!

I realize today more than any other day I am so blessed. I don't know if it comes with age and a variety of life experiences, but at the wonderful age of 40 I find myself enjoying more moments of solitude with my God to fully appreciate what He has given me. To say the last year and a half has been hell on earth in some ways is the only way to describe it. Now I realize that is probably being overly dramatic, and I am certain there are people experiencing far greater struggles than me but for me I have to say it has been the most difficult and painful portion of my life journey so far.

This leg of my journey started when I was 8 months pregnant and had to spend the day comforting my husband after he came home to tell me he had been asked to resign from his job as worship pastor at our church here in Brazil, Indiana. Fast forward about a month later, and I remember the day we brought Chloe home, sobbing uncontrollably, I had so many questions racing through my heart and mind. Most of it was the result of my sheer anger and disappointment in how God had allowed the situation to unfold. God called us here to experience this? Really? What was He thinking? How in the world are we supposed to handle any of this? What do we do now? Where will we go from here, when what we thought was so certain is now such an uncertainty? As the days and weeks passed, and we watched doors open and close for Ryan, it became very clear that what we wanted and what we were expecting was not what God had in mind. At some point I went into survival mode I guess, because I was amazed how I was able to cope on such an edge. You know that edge? The point where you are so ready to curse God for what has happened, and yet something pulls you back? It is difficult to describe how that feels, to be in such a place of deep despair and at the same time experience this very odd sense of clarity. Like waves in the ocean, Ryan and I went in and out of periods of time when one of us was really getting what God was doing, while the other was practically shutting down--mentally and spiritually. How many of us can say we are completely aware of every single moment our spouses spend with God? We can't. So we hope and pray the few moments we do spend together in prayer and His Word, and the chance moments we glimpse each other in some form of quiet time--even if it is 10 minutes in the bathroom with the door locked so the kids will stay out--that God is getting through. Hoping and praying neither one of us has become hardened toward God, blaming Him for what has happened.

So, how have we processed it all so far? How have we managed to make our way through the days, the weeks of waiting, praying, hoping, exploring, anticipating, agonizing, thrilling, working, working, working....? We still are. There is no definitive answer at this point and there is no end to it in sight. We have found in this portion of the journey that whether it makes sense to us or not, whether we can see it, hear it, touch it is irrelevant and not a requirement for defining our faith. God is not dead, He is very much alive and yes, He is right beside us, He is sitting with us while we are wallowing in a heap on the floor, crying out to Him, "Why God! Why now? Why us? What is the point of any of this?" He hears us, He cries with us, He knows us to our very core. And yet, there is no audible answer. Just His amazing peace, strength and comfort when we have completely emptied ourselves and we are right where He wants us to be. Raw, weak, exhausted, exasperated and more aware of our inability and vulnerability...that is the point when His work in us can truly begin.

I have been reflecting in my quiet time the last few days on His peace and His presence. I have developed in the last month an almost tangible sense of trust in God unlike any other time in my life before. I point to two things in my time that have made that happen: reading this wonderful book "Learning to Breathe" by Alison Wright and God's word to me in the Bible. I was reminded time and time again in my devotionals that fear and anxiety can squirm into my life at the earliest, tiniest sign of weakness. That is why I must bathe myself daily, throughout my day in His presence and in His word. The love God has for us dispels fear and anxiety, eliminates that chance it may have of overcoming us. The moment we realize God's love, and invite Him to envelop us, wash us, and ask Him to take it from us--the fear, anxiety, doubt--the weight of it can be so unbearable! That moment, that is when we can know for sure we know Him, we know His perfect love and we know for certain that He is perfecting that love deeply in us. (1 John 4:18) Alison Wright's book couldn't have come at a better time. Mom had it in her personal library and I asked with great eagerness to borrow it. I am so glad I did because I haven't been able to put it down. I have taken my time reading it, not wanting it to end really. The things she experienced, learned, the amazing journey her life has taken and what she lived through. I can't imagine surviving what she did and being able to tell about it. I am getting close to the end of the book, and what I read last night struck me as I have wrestled and reflected on this tug of war between fear and faith. She states, "There's no end to the process of getting your life back--eventually you have to come down from the mountain....the real success is surviving the descent." Fear and anxiety can be paralyzing, but when faith kicks in we realize we can fight it, we can move on and we can be better because of it.

Today was an amazing day for me. I had a really, really great opportunity present itself and the experience went so well. I came away from it feeling it to be one of the best experiences I have had in my life that I can recall. I went in to it with an attitude of trust in God and thankfulness in my heart. I found myself telling two very dear friends tonight that I honestly don't care if it works out. I am just so thankful for the experience itself. Is that what we should be aiming for in our lives? Is that the point? To finally be so completely surrendered to God, so focused on Him and the truth that He really does intend only good for me in all situations--to be able to say I am residing in peace? I think so. I hope to find myself in this place more often as I continue on the journey God has placed before me.
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