Monday, November 8, 2010

There is something amazing about fear: A Communion Post

"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; 
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." - Isaiah 11:1
When I am really, really afraid I feel broken.  I feel like I can't go back and moving forward puts me at a greater risk than staying put.  I feel like screaming and keeping very quiet at the same time.  I feel imminence and a great cloud of grayness.  I feel dead.  I feel like a stump of tree that used to thrive.

"A shoot will come up from the stump..."
Listening to: Disconnect the Dots by Of Montreal 

There is something about fear that is amazing.  I'm not just talking about looking back and realizing how it all worked out.  I hate it when people tell me that everything will be ok or it will all work out - I feel like by that time I will be scared of something new and won't remember to enjoy what I gained from THIS fear. So, sounding just a little jaded, I will try to explain why FEAR, real actual fear is AMAZING. 

There are fears that are intoxicating, addictive, and undeniably appetizing.  For example, I will eat things that are way too spicy for my digestive system and there are people, not myself, who jump out of airplanes and thrust themselves into deep waters with sharks only relying on a heavy tank of sinking air.  This is a type of amazing fear, but...not really the fear I am talking about here.

The fear I speak of is when you have everything set up just right, you have done everything you are supposed to do, you have a husband, a kid, a job, a fantastic instrument, an amazing family, a great church, really good friends, good food, a house with a front door and windows and beds and things, cool weather and you are sad.

The fear I speak of is when I am fighting with my husband, my family won't tell me why they can't be around me right now, my friends are acting weird, my car doesn't have ac and it is 90 degrees outside, I don't know where stuff is, I have to do someone else's laundry, I am tired all the time, I feel stuck with my life, I feel like everyone else is doing better than I am doing right now, I always say the wrong thing to my in-laws and I don't know what to do about it, when I can't get comfortable because the weather is always changing, there are toys all over the floor, everything I eat makes me feel good and bad at the same time and something is seriously wrong when I drink milk.  

The fear I speak of is when things are not supposed to be difficult, but they are anyways.  I think this fear is important.  And I am really starting to think it is amazing.  

It makes my throat growl and my shoulders squish together tensely and fall limply forward at the same time.  This fear includes everything that is real and important and it means something very important to be feeling this fear, but for the life of me I don't know what it means - I just know it is very important.  

The fear I speak of many times is completely unappealing, difficult and annoyingly unproductive.
"The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord and he will delight in the fear of the Lord - He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears." - Isaiah 11:2-3

My sister says that there is a point where you realize that being happy is a decision, not a reward.  

This is in that fear, this statement is the gem inside that dirty geode rock that you find.  But that gem has been hidden, it has been beat down by all of the currents of life's streams and right now, it just looks like a dirty stupid rock. I want to say something about how it has to be broken to be discovered and seen and how life breaks you, but that's not really my point.  

My point is the amazingness of fear.
For the next part, listen to: Wayward Song by The Earlies

My point is that there is a gem.  That there is a new shoot in your stump (See Isaiah verse at top of page).  
My point is: 

"Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege. I had said in my alarm, I am driven far from your sight. But you heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help." - Psalm 31:21-22

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." - Proverbs 16:33

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will make [what is right in you] shine like the dawn.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways...Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret -- it leads only to [bad things].  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land." -Psalm 37:3-9

Honestly, it has taken me a long time and will probably continue to take me longer to learn that happiness is not getting what I want, it is not having no pain, nor is it having everyone love and understand me when I try to love and understand them, it's not always getting the job I think I deserve, or making the amount of money that I think my quality of life needs and it might not even be feeling validated or important at all. Happiness is not a lot of things that I expect it to be.  

God does not ever promise that we will not have fear, or be scared, He doesn't even promise that we won't be sad or feel pain.  But He does promise us that we can have hope that our fear comes from the Lord and it does not come from all of the unpredictable evil in this world.  It may seem like it does sometimes, just like - I'm sure - that geode rock thinks the rough currents and rocks that it tumbles over are the cause of its ugliness. If I were that geode, I would assume my insides looked like my outside.  But ultimately, in the end, no matter what that little stone thinks, the beauty will still lye within and the rough travel will only serve to give the gems inside time to get more beautiful!

The fear of the Lord is: 
The beginning of wisdom
A fountain of Life
Teaches a man wisdom, humility and comes before honor
Pure and enduring forever
It is able to turn us from the "snares of death"
The key to salvation, wisdom and knowledge

It isn't necessarily contentment, happy happy and singing.  It might really hurt, like a bullet or a hammer or just like life hurts sometimes in that scary way.

In THAT fear, the one that is in the grips of God, we can feel secure that it is for good reason.  That we are more alive inside and we are becoming more beautiful and wise because of this fear.  

Fear is amazing because it makes the good things really noticeable and it makes us think about them and wish for them and watch out for them to come, but is also amazing because it is good.  Fear in itself is good. Not because of what we get out of it, not because it makes us try harder to avoid is good, because it is part of the Character of God. 

Mark says that Jesus told his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (14:34)" then he asked God if it would be possible to do this in any other way (vs. 36)

To me, it seems like at this moment, Jesus felt fear and even though He knew why - He didn't want to be feeling it or even face the next step ahead.

I heard a quote the other day about discipline that blew my mind: 

"Discipline should be for reconciliation, not destruction." 

My whole life, I have been the one that others were disciplining, now, the roles are reversed. I look back to my own experiences and I can easily remember that it certainly does not feel good to be disciplined, especially when you cannot see why you need to learn that discipline.  I see that feeling very tangibly when I try to discipline my 9 month old son...he doesn't like it. But, discipline ultimately brings freedom and it has allowed me to achieve goals that I could not have achieved before, but more importantly it has given me a structure for reconciling my undisciplined self with a person that is capable of achieving those goals on a regular basis.  It also is a fact, that the more disciplined I become, the stronger and more capable I feel...the teacher in me calls that freedom. 

Ultimately, if I and my son had our heads on straight, we would see that discipline is hope.  And fear of not knowing and waiting and being sad, that is hope as well.  

I call this a communion post because it makes me remember that the blood of Jesus Christ has something to do with me.  It represents Him dying so that He and those He loved could truly live.  It represents the fear of death and the knowledge of the life within that death.  As I take communion and feel the burn of bad wine go down the back of my throat and into the inmost parts of my being, I remember that gem and I think on THAT thing in the midst of the deeply gray clouds of my amazing fear.

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