BSSM 1.4 - FEAR
January 29, 2020
First, a quick missions update:
I am on my last fundraising deadline for my missions trip to Netherlands, with only about $500 to raise by February 14. If you’re interested in donating and haven’t yet, you can partner with me in this adventure here.
Now then; life update:
December was a good month.
I drove around California a bunch with my little sister, chasing coasts, forests, tourist traps, coffee shops, and concerts.
I flew back home to Canada, reconnected with friends and family, played drums at my home church, and spent New Years Eve praying with some lifelong friends.
God continued His gentle schooling as I learned of the community inside the Trinity, and a bit more about what it means to “turn the cheek”. I received His reassurance that the changes He has done in my life while I’m here, the work He’s started, will be “sticky,” even when I go back into old contexts.
Indeed, December was a good month.
But it was also a month in which God led me through a challenging process of surrender, sacrifice and faith on the road to peace.
Welcome to (the latest phase of) my journey with FEAR.
December started with the tail end of a trip that involved the Pacific Ocean and the beauty of Yosemite National Park, including El Capitan, as well as learning (a very small amount of) German from my two adventure-mates. My soul was well-fed, my body well-used, and my Spirit ready to have the firehose of fuel that is BSSM turned on it once again. In other words, I was flying high.
And then the first day of school happened. Or, I suppose more specifically, Jenn Johnson happened.
I guess at this point I should mention that I had started making plans about my future. And, let me tell you, they were good plans, filled with clarity and purpose, direction and adventure, and, most of all, the Kingdom. After all, I’m all about that Kingdom.
And then, near the end of Jenn Johnson’s message in class, I felt God lean in and essentially ask me:
“Hey… What if I told you to do this instead?”
To which I responded, quite rationally:
“Actually God… That would terrify me to the core. How about we not do that?”
To which, of course, God nodded, winked, chuckled a bit, and said “of course, of course. I was just kidding. That would be ridiculous.”
Yeah. Or not.
And so began my trek through a mountain of fear. Seriously.
It was large, it was looming, it was reasonable, and yet… Here God was asking me to face it head-on.
Stepping back, I saw myself with two possibilities:
Choice one was my plans. Plans that felt so firm, so concrete, and so full of hope, joy and life. I could see all the possible outcomes, and they were so, so good.
But then there was choice two. And, strange as this might sound, I literally could not coerce my imagination to dream up a scenario for that choice was not disastrous.
Seriously. I tried.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this before, but my mind just couldn’t manage to combine thoughts into a theoretical story that ended happily when I allowed them to start walking down that path. That choice was dark, unknown, and mysterious, but, if I trusted my mind and my imagination, it was not good. It simply could not possibly be good. I could’ve imagined a million possible outcomes without one of them being good.
But… It seemed choice two might be God’s idea. There He stood, quietly and steadily asking what I would do with that possibility. And I started to wonder if this is what trust looked like.
Maybe when my hope is done and has failed, my trust and Faith in God needs to take over and borrow some of God’s hope. One thing I learned through this process is that God is much more hopeful of the future than I am.
Part of Ephesians 3:20 in The Passion Translation (which I’ve come to love; I suppose I may truly be a Bethel-ite) reads:
He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination
I used to interpret this verse to mean something along the lines of “even when I imagine incredible, outlandishly-good things, God can still top that.” I still think that’s an accurate application.
But in this process that verse took on a whole new meaning, which started reading something like “when my imagination is so completely void of any hope that it cannot dream up a single good outcome of this decision, God is still entirely able to work that scenario into good.”
In short, God is never daunted by a situation.
And yet, fear still loomed so large, so real. It felt so utterly and completely hopeless. It felt like so much was on the line: my dreams, my destiny, my hopes for what the future might look like… And against all of that fear was stacked God’s gentle, consistent prodding.
A concept I have hung onto at several pivotal junctions in my life is that I have never regretted trusting God. It’s still true. I have never looked back at a choice to trust God and regretted it. Never.
And so, slowly, painfully, over the course of a few days, I started to let God’s hope take the place of my fear. I started choosing to believe that my idea of a perfect plan isn’t ever as good as God’s plan, even if I think it looks straight-up awful.
And as I did, I felt the sadness at what I had to surrender start to thin. And I started to remember that all I really wanted was Jesus anyways.
I’m not on this journey for the collateral blessings. If all I get is Jesus, I win. If Jesus walks along a beautiful beach dotted with cliffs while the sun sets majestically behind the horizon, you can bet I’ll be walking next to Him. But if Jesus starts wandering down a dark, foggy path, lined with jagged cliffs and lighted only by burning trees and molten lava flowing from a nearby volcano, well, I’m gonna recklessly charge down that path after Him.
Wherever He is is where I wanna be.
Now, remember, God still hasn’t actually told me which path to go down. Really, this was a process of Him poking (rather persistently) on a big clump of previously hidden fear in my life and in essence saying “hey, no matter where we go, this junk can’t stay here.”
So maybe God guides me down that foggy path that once held so much fear for me. Or maybe God gives His stamp of approval on my original plans, that ones that, if I trust my perspective, are obviously better. Or maybe He takes me somewhere else entirely, some path of which the starting point isn’t even visible yet.
Regardless, I’m in. And what’s more, I’m finding myself genuinely excited for it. Because if God is in it, what appears to be the worst possible choice out of a hundred will end up being the best. It’s what He does.
If I’m with Jesus, I win. And I’ll follow Him into whatever.
So I suppose by some standards you could say I’m back where I’m started. I still don’t know where God wants me to head next, and I’m still leaning towards the plans I had before God’s challenge near the beginning of December.
But the reality is that my internal state is entirely different. I can now say with confidence that with the two paths currently in front of me, the decision I make about my future will not be made out of fear. It will be made out of some combination of God’s leading and His giving me space to choose.
And that, friends, is what I learned in December.
To listen carefully when God asks questions. To not run away from His challenge, but instead to lean into it. To let Him poke and prod at my internal state, and to trust that I’ll be better for it in the end. To let Him cut out that fear that could’ve been a dangerous undercurrent to my decision-making process. To trust that His plans really are the best, every time, even when my wildest imaginations can’t fathom how. To remember that God, who is smarter than me, always has more hope for a situation than I do.
And to remember that, at the end of the day, if I get Jesus, I win.
If I get Jesus, I win.