Friday, January 25, 2013

Facing Fear

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I intended to write a little essay today about real-life home decorating/design and how the world sets us up to be unsatisfied with our environment, but before I could even begin to put it together I found that Beth Moore had blogged an assignment for her readers.

This is real Bible-study homework and my plans to gripe about false standards flew out the window and I decided to dig in and see what 'Mama Beth'  had laid out for us.  We're actually supposed to answer in the comments section, so I will likely edit today's post to respond properly instead of linking back, but I thought I'd share the process here...and as I read through I realize I may be biting off way more than I'm comfortable chewing anywhere other than in my journal...but, well, it's about being transparent and getting out of the comfort zone, right?

Deep breath and a little prayer...God, use this to break and heal what needs breaking and healing in me...

1. Please go to a website like Bible Gateway or to your Bible software if you have it and look up Isaiah 30:15-18. Please read it thoroughly in 3 different translations. In your response to this first exercise, please tell me what 3 translations you read then copy and paste the one that spoke the most blatantly to you. (In your answer you will have the abbreviations to three translations and then the full text in one of them. Make sense?)

I cheated a bit; having a plethora of translations available on my shelf rather than go online.   I decided to look up the passage in my ESV, and also my Parallel Bible, where I paid particular attention to the NIV and the Amplified.  I have to say, the one that spoke most deeply to me was, of course, the Amplified:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,  In returning to Me and resting in Me you shall be saved; in quietness and in (trusting) confidence shall be your strength.  

And you would not, But you said, No!  We will speed our own course on horses!  Therefore you shall speed [in flight from your enemies].  You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way]!  Therefore shall they who pursue you be swift, so swift that One thousand of you will flee at the threat of one of them; at the threat of five you will flee till you are left like a beacon or a flagpole on the top of a mountain, and like a signal on a hill.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits  -- expectant, looking and longing -- to be gracious to you, and therefore He lifts Himself up that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you; for the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed -- happy, fortunate [to be envied] are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him  [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy and His matchless, unbroken companionship].

2. Look up the word “threat” in any good English dictionary and write the full definition. After you write the definition, please share how it hits you and how you feel most threatened in this season, if at all. Keep in mind that nothing trips the switch on our insecurity like feeling threatened. Be careful as always in this community not to over-share by telling things about other people who wouldn’t necessarily appreciate it.

Threat: 1) An expression of an intention to inflict pain, injury, evil, or punishment on a person or thing.  2) An indication of impending danger or harm  3) A person, thing, or idea regarded as a possible danger; a menace (American Heritage, 1971)

I have a recurring dream, that I have mentioned before in a random questions response, in which I find myself paralyzed by a fear of heights.It's a crazy thing, but I have gradually come to see this as an expression of the fear of aging...not a fear of death, mind you, but a fear of the loss and change that comes with the passage of time.  That fear has gripped me in odd moments over the past year and a half or so;  sometimes there has been an event that triggered it; sometimes it was just the possibility of such an event. Sometimes it just seemed to come from nowhere.  There are some scenarios that I am just not prepared for in a practical sense, let alone emotional. I know that life is an uncertain thing.  I also know that, unless Jesus comes to get us, the loss and change, in some fashion, is inevitable; I suppose now that I'm past 50, the reality of that is starting to soak in. It's the primary reason I selected Is. 41:13 for my first SSMT verse.

3. What does “fleeing” tend to look like in your life? In other words, how are you most prone to flee? And, are you in fleeing mode right now?

This is a hard question...I suppose 'fleeing' is actually getting so busy with stuff that I just can't pay attention to the thing that is intimidating me. Actually, a friend pointed this out to me a number of years ago...that I use 'busy' as 'avoidance'... when I was even less obligated than I am now.  Judging by the amount of 'stuff' I have to which I seem to be obligated, I must really be in serious fleeing mode.  Not good.  Question for myself:  How can I reduce my commitments so that I can take care of ...whatever it is that I am actively avoiding?

4. Compare or contrast the Isaiah text (30:15-18)  to 1 Peter 5:8-9.

I suppose the most meaningful comparison would be to match translations, so here's 1 Peter 5: 8 - 9 in the Amplified:

Be well-balanced -- temperate, sober-minded; be vigilant and cautious at all times, for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.  Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset], -- rooted, established, strong, immovable and determined -- knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.

Whoa.  The text that comes to mind to me for 1 Peter 5:8 is the NIV, which starts off  'Be self-controlled'.  But how pertinent to me at the moment is the Amplified's  phrasing, 'Be well-balanced'?

If I'm trusting God completely with EVERYTHING, then I am not leaving  my spiritual center of gravity; I am balanced.  Trying to take care of it myself would mean leaving the place of trust -- the place of balance -- whether it's because I'm running away from something or trying to fix something that is out of my control.

I don't need to react to the perceived threat of the enemy's roaring; I need to pay attention so that I know God's direction through the struggles that are common to all of us.

5. One of my translations this morning for this text was The Message. Here it is on the card I wrote out.

Do you perchance need to hear the words “settle down!” as much as I do? If so, why?

Oh yeah.  And I perceive that this is going to be a continual settling down...over and over again, focusing on Him and not on what is trying to make me flee.

6. Finish your assignment with any particular personal insight you gained from it and, most of all, what you discern God is saying to you through it.

I saw that most of the things that cause me to want to flee -- whether it means picking up and running away or just getting so busy that I don't deal with what needs to be dealt with -- are threats.  Not actual impending harm...just threats.  I'm reminded of a 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' series in which the villain turned out to be a really teeny, insignificant individual who intimidated folks by the size of his shadow.

It is the shadow that is threatening me.  Not an actual reality...just a shadow.  

Yes, though I walk through the  [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil; for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. -- Ps 23: 4, AMP

If you stop fleeing from something...that means you turn around and face it.

But I am not facing it alone.

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