As I sat in the garden, relishing the peace and serenity of the petite private grounds, amidst the conical wooded backdrop, I learned something. I was in a place endowed with the beauty of ever-ripening mulberries, dangling from soft leaf-filled branches, when I felt something. I was enjoying the subtle fragrances of lavender, mint, and rosemary when I smelled something. I was watching the splendor of the color-bursts from the trumpeting pansies, while the squirrels took brunch from the branches, when I saw something. I was listening to the orchestra of avian voices, in concert in the background, when I heard something. God awakened my senses and I realized that this is Canaan – the land of milk and honey. Where ever I am today, I have nothing to fear here because He is with me and His spirit is in me. The treasures He has for me are mine for the taking.
This sixty seconds of breathtaking and vibrant change of perspective on the life He has given me is one of the many treasures he stored up for me. My purpose today is to love His people through the virtues of justice and peace. In this moment, my power is influencing others; my gifting is inspiring them; my pain is fear and my weakness is speed. However, when I slow down, we connect. When I encourage and guide, He transforms hearts. When I am fearless, bold, and courageous, miraculous things happen in His kingdom. Romans 8:15-17 says, “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” This scripture gives us the confidence to move out on the certainty of His promises in pursuit of our purpose without reservation or fear.
As I have been on this quest to understand the correlation between pain, power, weakness, and gifting, I have engaged in a lot of introspection. There have been moments when I sensed great movement and others when I felt helplessly stuck – confined, restrained, even imprisoned. My jailer’s name is fear and he is my most formidable enemy. Everyday, my captor tries to unbraid my nerve and rattle my faith. Thankfully, he cannot touch my essence. My spirit has remained strong and my courage must persist, intact, to allow me to serve my master fully. In Mighty to Save, Hillsong United says, “Everyone needs compassion. A love that’s never-failing, let mercy fall on me. Well, everyone needs forgiveness; the kindness of a Savior; the hope of nations… So take me as You find me, all my fears and failures. Fill my life again. I give my life to follow everything I believe in. I surrender…I surrender.”
My reflections on this made me assess what motivates me to give less than my all in every circumstance. I realized the times when I hold back are because of avoidance of these emotions:
- Shame – fear of disconnection
- Embarrassment – fear of judgment
- Afraid – fear of danger
- Humiliation – fear of torment
- Defensiveness – fear of punishment
- Anger – fear of the needless
- Jealousy – fear of inadequacy
- Timorous – fear of failure
I realized that it is impossible to inspire and love His people and administer justice and peace as I am called to do when I have a spirit of fear. I am not perfect and will mess up time and time again. Pressing on in spite of the hurts, setbacks, and disappointments is what He asks of me. Making the most of my talents is my direction while authentically embracing the other mortals around me. Most of all, I am required to release the enemy among us – this spirit called fear. Just let it go and be me! Casting Crowns says, “Is there anyone that fails? Is there anyone that falls? Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small? ‘Cause when I take a look around everybody seems so strong. I know they’ll soon discover that I don’t belong. So I tuck it all away, like every thing’s okay. If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too. So, with a painted grin, I play the part again; so, everyone will see me the way that I see them… Is there anyone who’s been there? Are there any hands to raise? Am I the only one who’s traded in the altar for a stage? The performance is convincing and we know every line by heart. Only when no one is watching can we really fall apart. But would it set me free if I dared to let you see the truth behind the person that you imagine me to be? Would your arms be open? Or would you walk away? Would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay?” – Stained Glass Masquerade. God goes to work when we admit we are weak. Christ is always in us and the spirit is always with us. Therefore, we have nothing to fear; least of all those we are called to love.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 says, “6 This being so, I want to remind you to stir into flame the strength and boldness that is in you, that entered into you when I laid my hands upon your head and blessed you. 7 For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.”
Look, listen, and feel – the squirrels flit about, the birds sing, the herbs disburse their scent, the efflorescent hues erupt from the floral arrangements on the small plot the Lord has lent. Recognize them as His gifts. Act – when you step out into the world today, put on your armor of courage and live this day fearlessly. The captor’s shackles have been loosened. His pessimistic voice has been silenced. Flex your muscles. Be brave. Go! Run like the wind and try to outpace a speeding bullet. You may not win the race but may discover a specialized use for metal or lead in the process. Try to lasso the power of a barreling locomotive. The rope may fall but maybe you will harness energy that provides electricity to the Serengeti. Try to leap small buildings in a single bound. Perhaps the prosthetics you invent on the rebound will be legs for those who don’t have them.
We are free. Only our jailer remains behind bars. Smile, laugh, connect, inspire, influence, and love. Holding back is no longer an option. Your treasures are here and now, with so much more to come. Pursue your purpose fearlessly! As for fear itself, let it go. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt