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August 2016

Take Your Fears With You

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(http://www.bryceresort.com/bryceresort/files/49/499288ea-9c0f-4691-94f4-39594291100f.jpg)

You know that fear has kept you from trying things, meeting people, or taking chances. It may be blocking your way right now. The possibility of personal advancement gets thwarted because fear holds you back.

You know what to do; you’ve heard it all before:

  • Deny your fears – The Bible says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” But what if you feel afraid anyway?
  • Face your fears – Things aren’t as bad as they seem, so take courage. But what if it’s harder than you thought?
  • Conquer your fears – Show them who’s boss! But what if you chicken out?
  • Surrender to your fears – Cancel your plans and settle within your limits. But what if you don’t like them? What if you want more?

The problem worsens when people who look up to you ask for your help about their own anxieties. How are you supposed to help them if your stomach is in knots? Do you advise them anyway? Isn’t that hypocritical?

There’s another way.

On a family vacation a few weeks ago, two of my kids (my son and daughter) wanted to sign up for zipline course. Although an adult didn’t have to accompany them, I knew they’d want me there, so I signed up, too.

But soon my daughter began having second thoughts. She’s done rock climbing and ropes courses before, so she’s not afraid of heights. At least that’s what I thought. But apparently, the zipline was different.

So what could I tell her? Deny your fears, confront them, defeat them, or give up?

None of the above.

I told her to accept them. When you’re strapping on the braces, acknowledge your fear. When you’re climbing up the stairs to reach the top of the station, admit your anxiety. And when you’re jumping off the platform, take your fears with you.

It wasn’t what she was expecting to hear, but she bought into the idea.

She ended up completing the course and she had fun, too!

You don’t have to waste your energy fighting your fears. When you’re scared, accept it. And then take the next step. Even if the fear goes with you.

Sometimes, you discover that you’re no longer afraid; you don’t feel frozen. But other times, the fears seem to linger. You met the challenge, but you’re still nervous.

That was my story. When I was encouraging my daughter to accept her fear, I was also reminding myself. You see, the course frightened me, too. For the sake of my kids, I told myself that I’d go through with it.

So each time I felt fear, I acknowledged its presence. Fear didn’t keep me from taking the next step. And I succeeded. More than I knew.

We registered for a course that had three runs. We’d ascend one pole, and then zip to three different and be done. At least that was the plan.

However, since it was a hot day and attendance was down, the staff decided to keep our group out longer than we’d expected. Like about twice as long! And we did seven lines; not three!

Maybe this a hidden blessing. MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre asks, “What happens when you accept and embrace your fear? Fear becomes your weapon.” And author Jack Canfield insists that “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

But I didn’t find these sentiments to be true. And I don’t think my daughter did, either. (My son’s a different story. He took running leaps off the platforms; that’s his mindset!) Fear was no weapon we could use, and we never crossed over to the other side of being scared.

Yet we managed to complete the course.

So fear doesn’t have to dictate what you do. You get to decide. You might not be able to wave away your distress, but you don’t have to. Accept the presence of your fears, but know also that God is with you.

  • He promised to never leave His own
  • Jesus is with believers all the way to the end
  • The Holy Spirit stays with you

Knowing that the Lord is with you, what can you accomplish? 

 

When Enough Time Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

(http://www.disruptiveadvertising.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Too-Busy.jpg)
(http://www.disruptiveadvertising.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Too-Busy.jpg)

What God shows you will get challenged. You can either fight the threat or cooperate with it.

I don’t recommend you give up; you don’t have to abandon God’s Word. But when you find your heart arguing with the Lord, acknowledge it. And dare to find out why.

A while back, I wrote about an insight I believe God had revealed to me. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” At the heart of this verse lay a central thought: “there is time.” You have enough time. Even if you feel rushed or burdened, there’s time enough for you.

But (no surprise here), my faith in this Scripture soon got tested. I wrote about that experience, too.

Before God had spoken to me, I had been wrestling with all kinds of demands on my time. I assumed that this Bible verse would give me a sense of victory and reduce my distress.

But it didn’t. The pressure didn’t subside. I’d catch myself on several occasions telling people, “I don’t have enough time.” I tried to interrupt myself or change my wording, but it bothered me that I repeated the line. Was this just a lazy habit or did it suggest something more profound?

Here’s what I was thinking:

  • I’m busy
  • When I’m busy, I feel pressured
  • But God said I have enough time
  • I believe Him
  • But I still feel pressured
  • Now I can’t turn anybody down because God removed my excuse of a lack of time

I can’t say I don’t have time because I do.

Don’t I?

God unearthed the root of my trouble – priorities. I do have sufficient time, but not for everything. God creates the conditions for what’s worthwhile.

I’d lost control over my schedule. Or maybe I’d given it away. Other people were filling up my day by their requests, suggestions, and invitations. Greg McKeown warns that “if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, agrees: you must “control your destiny or someone else will.” There’s no escaping this: “we can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.”

What’s worse, if you give away all your time, you lose your freedom, too. You end up incarcerating yourself: “when we don’t set clear boundaries in our lives we can end up imprisoned by the limits others set for us.”

Do you feel like you’re in jail? Has your calendar become your prison? Just telling yourself that you have enough time won’t cut it; even quoting verses doesn’t guarantee success. Why? Because God uses His Word to expose deeper problems. My issue appeared to be a lack of time or maybe a time management problem. But fundamentally, my life wasn’t lining up with my values.

I discovered that Jesus wanted me to learn how to say yes to priorities and no to anything of lesser value.

Don’t mix up your yesses and noes. According to business consultant Justin Bariso, “every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.” Ouch! I don’t want to waste myself like that, do you?

When you say no to minor opportunities, you can say yes to something fulfilling and enriching. So don’t be afraid of turning down a few requests. As McKeown observes, “only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all can you make your highest contribution towards what really matters.”

After the Lord’s correction, I’ve found an increasing sense of focus and order in my routines and commitments. I don’t control life but I don’t have to. Orienting myself around Jesus helps me handle everything bidding for my attention.

What’s essential in your life? What is God’s will for you? Jesus will help you think through questions like these. As His disciple, you’ll clarify His direction and purpose. And you’ll confirm that the Bible was right all along. You do have enough time; time for what’s important.

with Bob Condly

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