The opposite of fear

The world we live in is generally not a safe place. At night Chris and I will watch some television before bed and every so often when the funny sitcoms end, the news comes on before we can turn it off. With each news story I get more upset and a little sicker to my stomach. I don’t like knowing about the horrible events that happen. I seem to soak in the sadness and pain and it sticks with me. I spent part of my life living out the stories that now make me sick when I accidentally watch them on the news.

I’ve been around the block and I’ve seen the darker side of the human condition. Therefore I carry a taser in my bag and when I go for a walk I keep my finger on the trigger of the little pink pepper spray cartridge I bought recently. It gives me a sense of protection so I can plug my ear phones in, and listen to Pandora or indwelling life (teaching) messages, and should I be attacked, at least I’ll have a chance to fight.

One of the very first times I went for a walk here in Kansas City, I was approached by a very distinguishable car and propositioned. The car followed me for a block and asked one more time, just in case I changed my mind, and then drove off. Yesterday that same car and the same two men inside were on the news for an attempted kidnapping. Thank you Jesus from the bottom of my heart for keeping me safe. On another occasion I was outside of CVS waiting for a script to be filled as I read a magazine and sat on the bumper of my car. A shady looking fellow was making me feel uncomfortable as he darted around the parking lot on his bicycle. He felt comfy coming closer to me every time he rode by and as I looked up I noticed that something was not quite right. He was heading towards me with unnatural speed…  he could have been coming to ask me for a buck or he could have been planning to grab my bag. I don’t know what the deal was, but I felt like the Lord was prompting me to wait inside. So I went inside. When I came back out with my meds a minute later he was no where in sight. I decided to take out $5 and offer it to him because he looked like he could use it, but it was too late. He was gone.

In seeking Christ through all things, I wonder if He ever felt nervous about going around a shadowy corner alone. In fact, I know Christ didn’t feel nervous the way you and I feel it, but I wonder if He felt unsure of what His Father wanted Him to do. If I am to be an open-hearted individual, giving of myself, when does safety become the line at which I withdraw my hand? I was once a scary and untrustworthy person myself, and I wonder if that makes me more jumpy in situations that aren’t safe. I don’t want to be attacked, thrown into a car and held against my will, or killed. I’ve had two out of three happen when I had the luxury of not leaving children without their mother. It can’t happen today. I am older, I can’t leave my kids without a mom, and I don’t think I would do as well in those situations. I’m not tough like I used to be.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fear I have allowed to take hold of my heart and it’s made me angry. The Lord has brought me out of a life in which I have to be fearful at every turn. I have an opportunity and a deep desire to share my life with people who are alone, who are living in the hell of addiction, people who have nothing. My heart is with the hurting. I feel for them and I know that only God could place this within because I don’t want anything in return. The fact that I am now fearful and suspicious has shown me that opposition has been allowed a foothold into my heart somewhere. So I look to Christ and the relief becomes clear.

I fight fear and suspicion with Love. Christ gave before anyone could have taken from Him and the few times He was faced with another who was demanding a piece of Him, He gave just the same. I have that Person inside of me. In today’s unsafe world how can I be prepared for bad things to happen and how do I respond with Christ?

Christ was very intentional when He came to earth as a man. He didn’t do anything without purpose. While He remained unclenched and open-handed, He made sure to only go where the Father led Him. When He was with the worst of the sinners, He wasn’t alone. He spent time with them in the presence of His disciples. He was only taken when He allowed Himself to be taken. That’s smart, and I can do that because He did that.

What about the times when I am alone and there’s not a good way to seek safety with other people? I’m not sure that there’s one right answer. Each situation is going to be different. I trust Christ. I know that if danger were to actually present itself, it would be an opportunity to know Him and/or to share Him. When I am fearful I can’t be open to what He is whispering to me. When I release the fear and know that He’s in me and can’t be taken, I am free to be proactive and on the “offense” rather than the “defense”. It may take time to become habitual, but what if I look for sketchy people? What if I began to keep my eyes open and seek them out? And then gave them a few bucks, a granola bar, or just shared the Lord with them. The nature of Christ is the opposite of fear. I am thankful as I take on that nature.

It’s a tough world out there. Christ has not left us without Himself. No matter what happens in the world, He promises not to leave us. In that we can take heart.

I hope you have a wonderful week and thank you for reading.

Love,

Jackie

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