Return to your stronghold,O prisoners of hope.

                                    * OUR FEARS ESTABLISH THE LIMITS OF OUR LIFE* 

Thats just one of the sentences that are currently blowing my mind as I work through Pete Wilson’s awesome sauce book ” Let Hope In” .  

I told you all a blog or two ago that after last years awesome sauce trek through the world of Joy, I chose ” Hope ” as this years study. So far I’m flummoxed.  

Pete says ” if we fear heights, we will stay low, if we fear people we’ll stay alone, if we fear failure, we simply won’t try” 

Wow. Yup. And wow again. 

Hope to me seemed to be a flighty mamby pamby wishful type thing. You cannot bank on hope. However, as I learned with joy, there is sooooo much more to hope than meets the eye. And this week the subject of fear as a hinderance to hope came up.  Both in this great book ( get it get it get it!!) and in my personal life.

I have a lot of fears. Not of spiders ( though seriously, I will scream and nope ) or heights, or even of dying, I don’t fear pain or danger or probably a hundred things I actually should fear… I fear emotions.  I fear anger and disappointment in others, I fear despair..and find it so hard to climb up out of it if my feet slip down there. I fear falling in love, of being that vulnerable and open to hurt again, I return again and again to the pain I’ve known in past relationships and quickly shut down or sabotage any possibility of new, despite a longing to connect and be loved, because I’m trapped in the fear…

            I fear failure most of all. Feeling like I have failed is the greatest fear in my life.

When Thaniel came along that fear reigned supreme for two solid years. At first it was the fear of the unknown. Because we as humans base our expectations on our experiences , the unknown is such a daunting and dark place. How will we know what to expect if we have no idea what’s coming??  

Pete Wilson calls what we know a fenced yard where we feel relatively safe, and the unknown is everything outside of that fence, vast and scary.  I’d never had a child like Thaniel and didn’t know what was coming or how I would handle it. Fear walked beside me as close as my shadow. 

You’ve read about my struggle within these posts. Feeling as if I’d let Thaniel down, was letting him down, couldn’t match the need, dropped the ball over and over, didn’t have what it took to advocate for him properly…was going to lose him.  Fearful all the time.  

Fear drove me like a cattle boss with a whip.  Little sleep and too much reading and far to much worrying to do anyone any good. Fear was like a vice grip around my heart. And I did it all in the name of ” love”.  Love for that precious little gift God had entrusted me with. 

But here’s a little of what I’m learning and I’m going to chipmunk it back to you in case you need to reach for hope today too. 

First…. Perfect love casts out fear. It’s really the only antidote

And since my love is always flawed , I need to ask God daily to give me His love.  For my children, for my students, for my friends and loved ones. A perfect love that will replace any fears I have.  I have to take all of the what ifs and what mights and wrap them all up in Gods great big love for me and let Him carry them. 

Secondly… are you ready for this?  Hope is solid.  

Listen…”  Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, AND HOPE DOES NOT PUT US TO SHAME, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.   ”                ( Romans 5:2-5) 

Hope does not put us to shame  literally means it won’t let us down. It will stand. 

Hope takes chutzpah!  It takes a very strong person to hold onto hope and not let go, but hope in God won’t let you down.  Ever. It’s worth the effort, the struggle, the push. 

As a little side story, I hate running..  hate.  As in hate. Full use of the word. However, I have a good friend who runs and seems happy about it and so I set a challenge for myself to run 8k in 45 minutes. ( no mocking me all you runners out there! I have little legs!!)  I just got on that stupid treadmill and started little by little… and it seemed to me to be an impossible goal because my lungs were going to explode and my legs would only go a few minutes before they felt like they’d fall off, and I’d leave the treadmill for the weights that I know and love, the workouts I’m comfortable with, that I’m familiar with. But then the next day I suck it up and try again. 

And it’s been painful. Shin splints and calf pain and my knees say mean things to me when I walk up the stairs now.  But I’m still trying.  And last week I ran 6k in 45 minutes and was SO elated I spent the day walking on a cloud!! The bible says that ” Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” ( proverbs 13:12)   It was sooooo sweet! I wanted to stop perfect strangers and tell them what I’d done!   That one day ( cuz I haven’t repeated that success again so far ) has been worth the pain, and pushing.  Don’t give up on hoping just yet. 

Oh Abba, 

I don’t want fear to limit me, and I really don’t want fear to leak out and limit my children either. Teach me to hope in you, to look only to you, in you alone am I waiting, you’re my only expectation.  Help me to lay my fears at your feet and walk away with your sure and secure anchor of hope. Help me to leave the past in the past and look to the unknown with hope! You are in my future!!! How can it be scary?  ” The Lord is my portion, says my soul! Therefore I will hope in Him!!”  Have you ever let me walk alone? No.  Will you ever let anything happen to me and not be right there with me to help me handle it?  No. Will my hope in you ever leave me high and dry? Nope nopity nope nope.  God thank you for your perfect love. Let it wash over me today, taking fear away and flooding into the lives of those around me. I’m so in love with you Jesus. 

Amen. 

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