Can a cup of coffee take away fear?
I was recently invited to attend a Christian writing conference with one of the most special people in my life. My very appropriately named sister-in-law, Joy, sent me a text asking if I would like to attend with her. She, too, is in the process of writing a book. At first I just stared at the text, next, closed it out and refused to even reply to it, although I absolutely hate when others don't reply to my texts, then I closed my ears. I closed my ears to God because I knew He was providing me with a great opportunity and I knew it was something He would want for me to attend. Closed my ears, you are thinking? They are not eyelids, they do not close. Yes, you are correct, and that is on purpose. They are meant to remain open to help us navigate our world, to hear sirens, to hear our children laughing, to hear the quiet in the night so that we may rest. They are always open. But on this day I chose to close them to God's voice. No way did I want to hear Him tell me that Joy was offering me something meaningful and useful for my next steps. No way did I want to go to a place that scared the sheep out of me. And the last thing I wanted to do was let Joy know that her knowledge and understanding of writing and God also scared the sheep out of me. In case you are wondering, that is what the shepherds said when the Angel of the Lord appeared to them, they said, "you scared the sheep out of us!". Thank you Pastor Kile for that verbiage. Plain and simple I was afraid. I had fear, a fear that has plagued me for many years. So, I chose not to think about it or address it. Why would I want to anyway? This was much easier. It was just easier to pretend that I didn't have a problem and then maybe it would go away and Joy would forget about it. Yet, although I closed my ears, the Lord kept brining it back to me for days through the voice of the Holy Spirit. Why was I so afraid? I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid Joy would look at my writing and tell me that I was an absolute nutcase to even think I could write about God and His great grace. I was afraid I would attend the conference and the people there would be whispering about me behind my back and giggling in their hotel rooms later about how silly I was to even attend or pay money to be there.
As I write this I can't even believe how silly this appears, yet it is not the first time I have felt this way nor will it be the last and I am sure you have felt this way as well. Your fears may not be about attending a conference or writing, but they are real and they are consuming. Fear is such a strong emotion and has been placed within us for a purpose. We must have a certain amount of fear to keep us safe. Fear of wild animals so we take precautions when we hike or camp. Fear of weather so we prepare with spare food, blankets and candles. Fear when we drive so we wear seatbelts and buckle our children in safely. These are healthy fears that we keep in check and don't allow them to consume us. We should also have a healthy fear of the Lord. There are so many scriptures that share about having a fear of the Lord. One of my favorites comes from Proverbs 14:27 which says, "the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death." (CSB) The book of Job shares, "the fear of the Lord - that is wisdom. And to turn from evil is understanding." (Job 28:28 CSB) So, we know we are to have healthy fears, but to fear unnecessarily is what God asks us not to do especially if it causes us to turn away from Him.
If I would have first turned to God when I began to have this fear and anxiety, I am sure I would have found an answer and my fears would have been alleviated quickly. I know this because this is what God does and has done over and over in my life. But, you know me, I want to be in charge and in control so, instead, I chose to take matters into my own hands and dwell on it for days to the point of tears and could possibly have caused a riff with my special sister Joy, if I wasn't careful. Fear can be all consuming. It can cause us to not ever leave our homes, not ever have relationships, not ever experience all the world has to offer. But this is not what our Amazing Father wants for us. This is not the grace of God living in us. God's grace in us takes care of this fear and delivers it from us if we would only ask. Max Lucado, in his book You were made for this Moment says, "God is to problems what a hurricane is to a mosquito." I love this because it shows the "biggness" of God and how he can take care of all our fears if we were to just ask. Philippians 4:6 tells us, "don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God." We are being told to tell God our fears. He never closes his ears to us. His ears are always open and he will never turn away when we ask. The peace that will surround you through this great grace of God will be all consuming. I would rather have this all consuming grace than the all consuming feeling that fear will definitely bring. Psalms 56:3 tells us to trust in the Lord when we are afraid. And over and over in scripture we are told that when we seek the Lord in our fears He will rescue us. What an amazing gift of grace this is. Rescue!! How could we not want to be totally rescued from something that takes us into a place of total isolation and worry? The moment you bow your head to pray for God to take the fear away is the moment he will lift his hand to help. If you are feeling like you can't see God working in your fears, obey him anyway and know that He will show up. Don't get off of your knees. Continue to reach out to Him and he will answer you. The longer you wait to reach out to Him in your fears, the longer it will take to overcome them. Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength." Don't give up. Open your ears to hear His voice as he tells you your next steps and then follow them to the end of your fears.
Our God's grace when we turn to him in fear is like that first sip of coffee on a cold morning. When the rain is pouring down, the roof is leaking and your grandson is sick and lying on your couch, God's grace comes in and takes all the fear away. He settles a peace over your heart and brings a light that you may not have seen otherwise. His grace is a peace in all our fears.
In the end, I called my sweet Joy and explained my fears. Because she is such a special person, she totally understood, which God told me she would and we discussed the conference and the fear in general. This is another great thing about God's grace, He will always put people into our lives who understand our fears and help us through them. But again, this doesn't happen if you are too afraid to reach out.
What are you fearing today? Have you reached out to God? Are you listening for his voice in the answer to your fears? Or have you closed your ears?
Make yourself some coffee. Sit down and tell God your fears. Open your ears, listen to His answers and follow him, through his grace, to a life that is filled with relief from fear. The coffee will taste amazing, but it won't take away your fears. It will give you a time to enjoy its wonderful taste and smell, and to relax while God talks to you about how he will help you and take away your fears. Don't wait! Fall into our Father's arms and let that fear go.