I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve been so consumed with my book; I even took my laptop when I went into hospital for my operation, so I could continue with it in between the painkillers. One thing I knew for sure in writing my book was that I would be setting on a quest for this ‘contentment’ and as such, would be facing trials of all kinds, in order to learn and apply lessons, first to myself, then to my readers. What I did not foresee was a trial that was so instant, yet so devastating, that I briefly lost my faith. Yes!
I have a framed poster on the wall of my study, of a rock climber on the wall of El Capitan in California, with a caption: “Don’t let your fears stand in the way of your dreams.” I relate to it very well, since I was a keen climber in my youth. I never reached the truly dizzy heights of the likes of El Capitan (above), the Troll Wall (or even our own local Fair Head), or anything like that, but it was the very fear while climbing that gave it the ‘buzz’ that drew me to it. You ignored such fear and just climbed!
In life and faith, I have learnt to treat fear in the same way. I believe that as I reach for the things that I believe God wishes for me (and I’m not talking about material things!), then I should be as adventurous as a climber tackling a new climb. You see, the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is fear. Doubt creates an opportunity for you to question and seek answers and rethink, regroup your thoughts and maybe even change your stance, and then God can reassure you and make your faith yet stronger, but fear…. that just paralyses your faith.
So it was that I was in a confused state after my second operation, coming round from anaesthetic in a place I had nightmares about six years ago; Intensive Care, the last place I’d ever wish to be, and everything left me. Well, not true, actually – God never left me, but my faith did, and if there is one major lesson I take from this personal ‘worst trial ever’ that I underwent, it is that fear is very powerful, and nothing can overcome it, except God alone. My ‘faith’ left me, but my faith is a thing that I construct around God, based on my life experiences, my doctrine, my church, my fellow believers, my own thoughts, but it is not God himself.
I have much to write on this in my book’s last chapter, and there is much to discuss, but for now, please recognise what things in your life you may think are of God, but are not. Even the most precious things, like my worship ministry, my church of supportive and loving brothers and sisters, my Bible, even my ‘faith’… all these things can easily become substitutes for my heavenly Father and his presence in my life. Hold onto HIM, and nothing else. Then when fear comes, you will have at hand the very thing you need to defeat it.
What fear(s) do you have that challenge you right now?
What thing(s) do you have that may well be holding a place in your heart that actually (maybe very innocently) exclude God from his seat there?
Grace be with you.