Take courage!

Moving to another country isn’t easy. It means leaving the familiar. It means letting go of one identity and carving out another.

I experienced this when moving to England as a young wife. I didn’t understand the culture. Every person I met was new. And I wasn’t understood.

But as I walked the city of London in a daze, on every pub I passed, there was the same huge sign – “Take Courage”. Only later did I realise that Courage is a beer, but God used those two words to get me through.

God told a man called Paul, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”* Whatever our transitions, God will give us strength.

*Acts 23:11

Photo by Stacey Shintani on Flickr

What really is fear?

It always amazes me how new insights can come years after a situation has passed…

I grew up with a lot of fear, and have worked hard over the decades to overcome it. Yet, a stark reality hit home as I read Proverbs 29:25, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare.”

The Bible called my past fears exactly what they were – traps. For this is what fear does – it captures us, makes us a prisoner, and we can’t escape.

But as I read the next part of that verse, I saw the key to that trap, one which took me years to find – “but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” For a trap has NO power as we trust in God. Our escape is real.

Photo by Folco Masi on Unsplash

The opposite of fear…

Some things frighten me – especially another’s anger. I can wake up in the night, my heart aching over how a person’s anger manipulates me and those I really care for. For anger actually blocks me from freedom of choice.

The other day I read how Jesus reacted. “Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him” (Luke 20:47). Angry people opposed Jesus, but he didn’t crumble with fear. He lived with an audacity that surprised me.

He did what God wanted him to do. He sat where those leaders said he shouldn’t. He didn’t flinch.

It released me to live with the same audacity – to take bold risks despite the blocks.

Those unexpected memories…

We may have done everything properly as we grieved:

  • Gone through the five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance*.
  • Committed our broken hearts to God and asked him to heal us.
  • Trusted him for our future, that he would help us through.

We moved on… but then something happened to remind us. A conversation. A situation. An emotion. And we grieved yet again.

I have learned to lay each flashback at Jesus’ feet, to sit with him in the night for as long as I need. I have learned to accept his precious promises as my own. “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:15). We don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is with us. We can get up and live.

*1969, psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Photo by Jon Asato on Unsplash

When is God close?

When I am broken-hearted. “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

Whenever I am afraid and overwhelmed. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God…” (Isaiah 41:10).

When I am truthful in my prayers. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

When I am sad over what I have done. God says, “…I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).

When someone accuses me. “He who vindicates me is near. Who then can bring a charge against me?…” (Isaiah 50:8).

Because HE is GOD.

Photo by Мария Волк on Unsplash

Remember….

He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” when we feel alone.

He says, “My word is a lamp to your feet,” when we get confused.

He says, “Do not be afraid,” when life overwhelms.

Because, in every problem, God will ALWAYS fulfill his promise.

The last laugh…

In this 100th blog, I wondered what the Bible had to say about ‘100’.

Nothing glamourous, as I had hoped. The first one embodied a cynical old man! “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?'” (Genesis 17:17) I wondered… am I still on the ground laughing at God’s promises? Do I still doubt him when he says he will save?

Then a surprise. The last ‘100’ at the end of the Bible was about Abraham as well! “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old.” (Romans 4:19) Yes, each of us can flounder in impossible situations. So often I do. But it is God who laughs at those impossibilities and difficulties.* He tells us, “I’ve got it. Don’t fear.”

*Psalm 2:4; Psalm 37:13

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


Help! I’m breaking apart!

The waves crashed. Winds howled. The ship was breaking apart. But some sailors in the Bible frapped their ship. “They passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together…” (Acts 27:17)

All of us have been hit by an almighty storm, and our lives are breaking apart. But God wants us to know that he is frapping our hearts. He is holding us together in his strong, encircling arms.

This doesn’t mean that the storm will pass us by, but our hearts can be calm. For Paul on that ship, God told him, “Do not be afraid.” (Acts 27:24) And God keeps telling us, “Do not fear!”

His encircling ropes appear in many ways, and often it comes through us. I’ve seen a lot of frapping happening right now, us helping others before they fall apart. No matter the storm, we can show God’s heart.



Unexpected freedom at twenty-one…

Something spooked my father and we fled until he felt safe – a thousand miles. We finally set up tents on an Arizona mountain, beside a road built by prisoners of war. For three weeks we camped in that desolate wilderness. 

In the silence, I played my accordion. My melody echoed with the remembered chisel sounds of those prisoners. I too was a captive to someone else’s fear. Yet my fingers played something far more captivating… 

“Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me, underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To your glorious rest above.”

Jesus holds us tight in a love that understands.

Composer: Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1925).  Photo: OB OA on Unsplash.

Ever feel lost?

The other night my mobile phone’s GPS told me that my thirty-minute journey would take two hours! Another accident, I thought. I followed the directions. Then it said, “Turn left on Bicycle Route 6.” What? It thought I was a bike!

I reset my phone, and it took me down a single-track road. Four kilometers later, no lights or habitations around, tall metal bollards blocked my way. Only bicycles could pass through. I came unglued. “I’m a car,” I cried out, “not a bike!”

Then it hit me. I wasn’t a car. I wasn’t even an insignificant dot to a satellite in the sky. I was scared, and God’s precious daughter. I could trust HIM… I turned off my mobile phone and prayed. God got me home with his GPS.