Chasing Grace not Fear
By: Kristen Oliver
I started reading a book a few months ago by Emily Ley titled; Grace not Perfection. Through this book and God slowly changing my perfectionist attitude, the title of my blog and life mantra was born, Chasing Grace. Realizing that I could not be perfect, and God never expects me to be, instantly released unrealistic expectations for myself and allowed me to let go of the fear that was subconsciously driving all of my life decisions. Instead of chasing success, chasing life, chasing the next best thing, I have decided to chase grace. Every day is a new set of issues, frustrations and problems to solve and I know I will always need God’s grace to not just survive, but thrive. Although, some days I forget and feel like, instead of resting in God’s grace and love, I am chasing it! Being a mom of 2 boys under 5 I literally am chasing my life all day, so why not try to grab some grace on the way?!
I have been dreaming about writing a book, publishing articles, blogging, guest writing, basically something involving writing, for at least 10 years. That’s awesome right? Except it wasn’t, because all I did was dream about it. I had ideas, but an idea in my head means nothing until its put on paper. Back in October 2016 I re-read a journal entry from several years ago where I was talking about how I really felt the desire to write a book and my friend Daniela had been encouraging me to start a blog. I remember thinking, its been 10 years and I still had not even tried to pursue my dream for one reason….I was afraid of failing. I was afraid to be vulnerable. I was afraid of being judged. I let fear control me for 10 years, and on May 24th, 2017 I wrote my first blog post, What No One Tells you About Turning 29, and I died a little inside! I was so nervous to actually do what I’ve been wanting to do for 10 years! I do not say all this to toot my own horn, because I would rather not tell my business to the whole world, but I am because I believe there are other people out there limiting themselves because of fear.
During my devotions this morning I discovered another example of people allowing fear to control their lives. In Hebrews chapter 3 the author is giving a warning against unbelief. He refers to the Israelite’s whom Moses led out of slavery and wandered in the desert for 40 years! 40 years is a long time to be wandering in a desert. But what I learned in this story is that the Israelite’s never needed anything. God provided for their physical needs with food and water and spiritual needs through prayer and poured out continual blessings. God had a plan for the Israelite’s to leave slavery in Egypt and receive the promise land full of God’s providence. However, the old generation never saw the promise land because they died in the desert. This leads to a very obvious question, “Why didn’t the old generation get to see the promise land?” The answer is very clear in Hebrews 3:10-11:
“Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways. So I declared my oath in my anger, they shall never enter my rest.”
The Israelite’s were so convinced that God couldn’t actually do what he promised that they lost their faith in him. I know that stories in the Old Testament tend to have a stigma that they are not relevant to today’s Christians. But when you read this story it is so similar to how we react to our problems today. Don’t you think? We fear that God is not really working the way he said he would, so we give up and try our way. The Israelite’s had so much fear of the future. They let their emotions, and probably conversations between each other, get so focused on what they couldn’t see, that their hearts became hardened. God gave them no reason to doubt him, he just did things in His time, not theirs. Does that sound familiar? We think we know what’s best; sometimes we even put God on a time frame. When God doesn’t answer our requests by our self-assigned due date, we decide that he isn’t listening or doesn’t care and inevitably it leads to being hard-hearted.
Something we must realize is that hardened hearts don’t happen immediately, it is from a series of choices to disregard God’s will (vs. 7-15). This is so evident throughout the story of the Israelite’s wandering the desert for 40 years. The Bible says once you have a hard heart and are stubborn in your ways, God will toss you aside like hardened bread, useless and worthless. Hence the old generation died in the desert and never saw the promise land. Let’s not be a generation that God tosses aside. Let’s not fear what we don’t know and instead trust that God has it all under control.
Letting go of our fear is not at all an easy task, and it means starting over every day when feelings of fear start to consume you.
Fear is what keeps us from achieving goals, losing weight, making friends, leaving our job, trying something new or living up to our full potential. God has a plan for us and offers hope for the future, we just need to have unwavering confidence in God. Fear does not have to control our lives. Prayer is how we combat fear and loneliness.
I love leaving you all with some practical steps to apply to your lives. Hebrews 3:12-14 gives us four ways to prevent having an unbelieving heart and combat fear.
1) Stay in fellowship with other believers
2) Talk daily about your mutual faith
3) Be aware of the deceitfulness of sin
(fun for a while until it’s not)
4) Encourage each other with love and concern
What are you allowing fear to control in your life? You can probably identify that one thing that is looming over you, consuming you and frustrating you. If not, I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer. Remember in The Beginners Guide to Daily Devotions post? We talked about praying and reading your bible for at least 5 minutes a day. (If you missed that post check it out because there are some helpful tips to get started in daily devotions and prayer.) When you are praying, ask God to reveal a weakness in your life that fear is controlling, and pray for God to take control over that area in your life.
Let me know how I can be praying for you all. We are a community and need to encourage and pray for one another!
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1