I’ve been reading through the Bible with a group of ladies this summer. The whole Bible in three months basically. It’s like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant for someone like me who prefers to soak in each chapter and verse as I read and study it. But it really changes some perspectives – this broader view. It’s like how looking at an image of a piece of property from drone footage shows you things you could never see from the ground. One big way it’s changed my perspective: it changed the filter through which I’m seeing the world from fear to faith. I’m still looking at the same struggles, but even though it’s the same, through this new filter, it’s totally different all at once. All because of perspective.
I met a sweet lady at a church event recently. She shared some of her life’s story. It paralleled mine in so many ways and we instantly felt connected. We had both lost a lot during the last few years. We will both always mark time in our life by a defining event – before I lost my dad, and after. She mentioned a ‘new normal’ and quickly said “I hate to even say those words, I’m so sick of hearing them.” I’ve heard others express that same sentiment, frustrated that this now coined phrase brings to mind images of loss, hurt, or even anger. I confess I agreed with her about how annoying that phrase was at times until I gave it some thought. “New” is not a word that those who follow the Lord should fear, but somehow it always strikes us deep with anxious thoughts and feelings.
New – God has always been about new. New mercies. New lives. New covenants. And yet as soon as He starts moving us toward something new, we panic, we become anxious, and begin to doubt. We doubt who He is, who we are, if we are enough, if He will come through. I know. I was just there myself, and honestly, I’m still battling to not be afraid. Change is hard for us. Changing schedules is hard. Changing schools, churches, jobs – it’s all hard. Changing things for your business is hard. Recognizing what wasn’t working for you or your clients and taking a leap of faith to adjust (even if it means a loss of income) is hard. Changing your lifestyle to improve your health is hard. Changing your community. Learning to live without loved ones. Moving on after a failure. Starting a new ministry. Writing a new book.
New means change and change brings about more stress than any other factor in our lives. It’s enough to make us do crazy things – we stop, we isolate, we panic, we stop talking, we talk too much, we worry, we cry, we pray, we complain, we argue, we stumble, we wander… and hopefully, eventually, we find faith that the One who has begun to do good things in us and for us, will see it through to the end. Faith that He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.
Psalm 34:4-10 says ” I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He rescues them. O, Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The young lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
When all we can see around us is fear, He is the One who delivers us from our fear. I’ll be honest, for me, that has yet to look a lot like taking the fear away. Boy, wouldn’t that make it easier? Instead, He simply gives me the encouragement to do it afraid. I look for what the Bible called a ‘sure sign’. Rahab asked for a sure sign from the spies she hid in her Jericho home. She needed something to help her feel confident that they would indeed spare her and her family, that they would not let them be destroyed in the coming battle. She knew things were about to change. She knew life after that moment was going to look different, so she asked the people of the God she believed in and feared for a sure sign that they would be saved. In times of fear, asking God for a sure sign is not an act of doubt, it’s asking for confirmation and assurance. Because when we know that we are following His lead, going under the protection of the Most High God, we can walk forward in faith, even if taking that first step is filled with fear.
So, as God is leading me into my ‘new normal’ – I am stepping forward – and I’m doing it afraid. It’s a step of faith that the sure sign He’s given me can be counted as assurance that He has a plan, regardless of what the road ahead looks like right now.
Isaiah 43: 18-20 says “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”
Clearing roads in a wilderness. Rivers in the desert. Talk about change. A destroys part of the wilderness. A river changes a desert forever. But what goodness those changes can bring! Now that’s a new perspective.