I am not afraid anymore.
I never realized until my cousin’s death how much of my life I have actually lived in fear.
That really surprised me.
I am anything but a shrinking violet. I do not back down from a challenge. I am a fighter.
Yet, I had all these little fears: I don’t like to drive in the snow. I hated going to the dentist. I was afraid to go to the doctor for fear of discovering that something was wrong. I am afraid of public speaking. I feared being in a car accident. (The drivers and traffic were so bad in south Florida that I actually prayed for protection every single time I got in the car. Fortunately, conditions are much better in New Hampshire).
As Ann Voskamp has said, “Fear makes a life small.”
Jesus does not call His followers to a small life.
Or a safe one for that matter.
In one of my all-time favorite books, Don’t Waste Your Life John Piper calls safety in this fallen world a myth: ““One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control.” (p 81)
I have read this book many times. Before my cousin’s death, those words scared me. There was a part of me that stubbornly wanted to continue believing that I could somehow live a safe life with minimal risk in this world.
I am no longer under such illusions.
The day that I walked out of the church after David’s funeral, I knew that I had undergone a profound change and my life would never be the same. His earthly journey had ended after a mere 46 years. Not only that, it had ended violently.
I have never been personally touched by violence before. I had heard all the stories and sympathized with the victims and their families but I have never known it up close and personal.
Now I do.
It is an ugly world out there. Evil exists. This is a world dominated by tears, grief, and pain. There are no guarantees.
As if to underscore this fact, shortly after I returned home I learned that an old friend had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Then I watched the Passion 2012 conference featuring Louie Giglio, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Christine Caine, and John Piper. They wanted to raise awareness about the horror of human trafficking. There are 27 million slaves in this world today, more than at any other time in human history. Hearing the real life stories of freed slaves was heart-wrenching and a fresh reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.
My eyes are now fully opened to the fact that this world is not my home. I”m never meant to feel comfortable here. I will treasure the joys I find but I will no longer live in the mirage of safety.
When I recently read the courageous words of Esther, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16) I thought, “What an incredibly freeing way to live!” The apostle Paul would echo her bold words centuries later when he wrote, “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself , if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24).
I don’t know what is going to happen to me tomorrow. But one thing I do know. My Savior knows the number of the days He has given me.
He holds me in the palm of His hand.
Nothing touches me without His permission.
He has a vision for my life…one that honors Him and makes Him famous in my sphere of influence.
He knows what He is doing at all times.
He is firmly on His throne. He is good. He does all things well.
His intends that my primary focus be on HIM…not on living a safe, tidy existence.
He intends for me to live every single day in faith…not fear.
The bottom line is that I am on this earth for one reason: to bring glory to my Savior.
And one day, He will declare that my work on this earth is done and He will call me to my true home in Heaven. To Himself. To eternal joy. To endless day.
In the meantime, He promises to protect me, to guide me, to fill every single one of the days He has given me with purpose and grace. He calls me His beloved. He restores my broken places. He rejoices over me with singing. His Word reminds me that this world is not all there is. He says that I am more than a conqueror. He promises to meet every single one of my needs. He commands me not to worry. He promises to fill me with His strength that will enable me to victoriously take on any challenge that He allows into my life.
Therefore, I have adopted this as my life verse from this day forward: “I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me. I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.” (Phil. 4:13, Amplified version).
I am ready for anything and equal to anything because Christ lives in me.
Whether I have one day or one thousand days left on this earth, I will live each one to the fullest.
I will run the race ahead of me with courage, grace, and the deep joy that explodes eternally from the heart of Christ.
There is nothing to fear.
“It’s time to leave low-living
and sight walking
and small planning
and smooth knees
and colorless dreams
and tame vision
and mindless talking
and mundane thinking
and cheap giving
and dwarfed goals
It’s time to soar on eagle’s wings.”
—Anne Graham Lotz