Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Work in Progress..

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In the last few weeks I've been on a sort of mental sabbatical from the arduous demands of my life.  I allowed myself to get lost in a series of reflections and musings as I comprehensively studied the lives of others. Though I was physically present here in the moment, I was mentally and emotionally worlds away as I immersed myself in others' way of thinking, acting, and relating.  It was nice to somehow be a part of their life's picture even if from afar, and interestingly, when the time came to return to my own place in this world I was a colorful mix of melancholy and peace.  I was saddened by the goodbye to another time and place, but relieved to be back to what I know, even if what I know is almost nothing at all.  In a way I felt that the perspective I had gained in recent days somehow prepared me for what waits ahead, though I don't yet know what that is.  One thing, however, is pristinely clear - this life is meant to be lived, not feared.

 The number of years that have passed since I lived free from fear escapes me.  Though I no longer have panic and anxiety attacks like I once did, I'm painfully aware of the familiar gray cloud that follows me still.  I've spent so much time worrying over the mistakes I "might" make that in an effort to make none at all, I stay chained to the illusion of safety and perfection.  In an attempt to better understand the roots of this fear, my husband and I recently debated about the presence of risk in faith.  While he claimed that true faith didn't involve risk of any kind, I gently countered that faith without risk is scarcely faith at all.  A quick study through the lives of the apostles will reveal that in exercising faith, they risked everything.  They left their families, their homes, and all that they knew to follow Jesus, and they did it immediately (Matthew 4:20).  Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 that if we give up our lives for His sake, we will actually find it.  The NLT says it like this: "If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it." What a risk to take for this Jesus whom we can neither physically see nor touch, and whether or not it's worth it is a question we must all one day answer.

Risk, as my husband pointed out, is defined as the possibility of loss or injury, and while this is true, it's a concept that is beautifully embedded in faith.  Yes, risk in faith is about the possibility of losing something. Specifically, ourselves.  I doubt the apostle Stephen woke up one day and decided he wanted to be stoned to death (Acts 7:59).  What about Peter?  I'm certain his greatest desire wasn't to be crucified (John 21:18-19), and certainly not upside down, but through faith in their beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, these were risks the apostles were willing to take. They didn't hold their lives so dear to them that they were unwilling to lay them down for the sake of Christ should it ever come to that, and what we can take away from their messages in the New Testament is simple. It's the most fulfilling way to live.  

Throughout the course of writing this entry and sorting through the decisions I currently face in my own life, I've realized how hypocritical it is for me to preach what I don't practice.  I find ease in counseling others towards a life of risk taking adventure all in the name of drawing closer to Jesus, yet if I could, I'd go through the rest of my own life risking nothing at all.  What are you afraid of? my Savior whispers as I contemplate life changing choices.  Though He already knows, He desires my own cognizance as well.  I used to think the answer to that question was death.  I thought I was afraid of dying, but what I'm coming to realize, sadly, is that I'm not afraid of dying; I'm afraid of living. 

The revelation is followed by a simple question.  What am I going to do about it? What are you going to do about your own fears and insecurities and doubts?  The easy solution would be to do nothing.  I could live the rest of my days in the comfort and security of this life I know and love.  I have a wonderful husband and an amazing son who mean the world to me. I have a good job providing therapy to kids with autism and an extended family who I love and who loves me.  I have two funny cats, a roof over my head, and friends I adore. I can be the author of my own future and write out my days with anecdotes and advice to others based on what I've learned. Or, I could take the path less traveled and let God write my story and live the life He has planned for me that occasionally extends outside the borders that I've carefully set.  What will I decide?  What will you decide?  Joshua 1:9 says this: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  I don't quite have that courage yet, but I'm working on it.  To Be Continued...





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