Worshipful Wednesday: Can’t Get Enough of You

For much of my life, I was paralyzed by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of loss. Fear of the walls that I’d so carefully constructed falling down around me.

Fear of trusting God and having Him disappoint me, too.

Though I had worked through some of this, I carried much of this fear into my marriage. I would at times ask my husband not to go out without me, such as an occassion where he was going to hear music with friends. I was totally gripped by a fear that something would happen to him while he was gone. This, thankfully, happened very infrequently, but when it did, it was as real and oppressive as anything I could remember experiencing.

In 2004, my husband and I were involved in an amazing church plant. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. It really felt like this was how the church was supposed to be: real, welcoming, warm, convicting – just full of Jesus. I was the worship leader, and personally, I felt as if I was finally walking in the fullness of my calling: to use my songs to glorify God and to lead people to Him. I signed up to attend a local worship conference with Andy Park, Rita Springer, and some other well-known leaders.

Just weeks before I was scheduled to attend this conference, the church plant closed when the pastor chose sinful behavior (a sin that he had struggled with for years but had had several years of victory over) above his calling.

I went forward with my plan to attend the conference, though I had no idea why. It felt as if all my dreams had come crashing down, once again.

The conference was amazing, but on the morning of the last day, that dark voice began to beckon: You need to leave. Something awful is going to happen. You need to go home NOW or something will happen to Roy.

I called Roy, sobbing in my car, telling him I needed to come home RIGHT NOW. It didn’t matter that there were only a few hours left in the conference (something Roy pointed out). I replied, “Right! There’s only a few hours left! I might as well just leave, so nothing horrible happens! It won’t hurt to miss a few hours!”

Thank God for my patient husband. He talked me down, and we hung up. And as I remember the story, I sat in my car, crying out to God, weeping, so desperate for Him to show up.

And at that moment, this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, flowed out of me. It begins:

I come to You in desperation

On our last Sunday at our beloved church in Virginia, I was asked to lead worship, as our regular worship leader was out of town. I lead the congregation in this song, Can’t Get Enough of You, for many reasons. For one, I have lead worship numerous times at the church, and it is a team and a congregational favorite. And I sang it for myself because of the special place it holds in my heart: in times of desperation, in places where I am stepping out in faith, the song reminds me of God’s faithfulness. I needed to be continually reminded, is times of ease and trials, of Jesus’ wordsApart from Me, you can do nothing.

My husband captured this video on his iPhone. The lyrics are below, as well as a link to the chords.

Can’t Get Enough of You
By Brenna Kate

I come to You in desperation
I wait for You with expectation

I wouldn’t want to take even one single breath without You
I don’t want to make even one little step without You

Without Your touch, without Your breath, My life is meaningless
I need Your power, I need Your love, I just can’t get enough

I just can’t get enough of You, more of You
Lord, You’re the one thing I desire
I can’t get enough of You, more of You
I need Your passion and Your fire

God, take me in Your arms and fill me with Your love
My heart wants more and more, I just can’t get enough

© 2005 Unveiled Faces Music

Here’s the chord sheet: Can’t Get Enough of You in C#m. I wrote the song in B minor, but it seems to be easier for the congregation to sing in C#m.

I also want to mention that this was the last time I had one of those dark episodes. God is able.

Freedom Friday: Go and Take Hold

Has anyone ever given you a gift that you refused to open?

Maybe it was in a box with entirely too much tape on it (can you tell we’re in the process of moving – again?). Full of anticipation, you began the process of tearing the tape off piece by piece, trying to figure out which piece was on top and which one to remove first. The excitement wore off when you realized the work ahead of you, and you put it aside for another day.

Perhaps you had an idea of what was in the box, a glimpse of the gift you would receive. While the idea of the gift was enticing, you weren’t sure it was any better than what you already had. And you could see the obstacles that stood in the way of what you were given. They seemed insurmountable.

I’ve been reading through the story of the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Having finished up about 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, I’ve reached the point of the story where Moses shares his final admonishments for the people he has been leading for 40 years.

In my reading this morning, I came upon this gem:

“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it” (Deuteronomy 1:21a).

Isn’t this just so like God? Later in the story, when Joshua is staring at the walled city of Jericho, it was so closed up that no one was even coming or going. And yet, what was God’s perspective? God basically tells them,“See I have delivered Jericho into your hands – now go and take it” (a summary of Joshua 6:2-5).

How did God direct the Israelites to enter the Promised Land? How does God ask the same of us?

First, God asks us to see. Not with our own limited perspective, but with His. If He has said He will do it, then He will do it.

During the time referred to in Moses’ recounting, the Israelites sent spies in to scout out the land. All the spies reported that the land God would give them was indeed good land, even bringing back some fruit. They also reported that the people were stronger and taller than them, and the cities large and walled. Rather than focus on what God asked them to see, they fixated on what they saw with their eyes. God wanted the Israelites to first see with His perspective.

Second, God asks us to trust. God had promised a land flowing with milk and honey to the Israelites, a land He promised that He would bring them into. The Israelites simply needed to take God at His Word. God was in essence saying, “I said I would do this. Remember how I drowned Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea? Remember how I provided food and water for you throughout your journey? Remember how I traveled with you by fire and cloud? I am with you, and I will continue to be with you as you choose to trust in me.” When what they saw didn’t make sense, God asked them to fix their sight on His promises and not the fear in their hearts.

Third, God asks us to go and take hold. After deciding to see things through God’s eyes, after choosing to trust in God, God then asks us to take a step of faith, go, and take hold of all that He has for us. The Israelites chose not to do this with disastrous consequences. Only Caleb and Joshua got to walk in the fullness of God’s promises.

As believers in and followers of Jesus Christ, God has given us so much. In fact, He “has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Peter goes on to talk about God’s “very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.”

In typical God fashion, though, this too is something we need to go and take hold of. “For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”

Paul knew this intimately when he wrote the following to the church in Philippi: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already ready been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Is there a promise from God that you have not yet received? First, see with His eyes. Second, trust in His promises. Third, go and take hold.

“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 1:21

Happy New Year! Wherever You Go……

Happy New Year, Freedom Friends!

2013 is officially over, and 2014 is in full swing.

The New Year’s resolutions have been made. We’re excited about a fresh start. Out with the old – in with the new! Right?

Right?

That’s the hope, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we love this season? New Years brings a fresh round of “Change Your _____, Change Your Life!” Have you ever played this game? It begins with “If Only’s”:

If only I lose weight…
If only I move…
If only I find a new job…
If only I found a good partner…

Then my life would change.

Then we might lose the weight, or relocate; we find the job or the new spouse. Usually, we’re not successful. The outcome doesn’t necessarily settle the disillusionment we feel because we thought for sure things would be better “if only.”

Why is that? Because the saying is true:

Wherever you go, there you are

Have you ever thought about what this really means? We get so focused on changing our external circumstances that we forget this simple truth: most external issues flow out of internal issues. So no matter where you go or how much weight you lose, inside you are still you. If we don’t allow God to change the internal, changing the externals will not have the hoped-for result. We will experience the same trials, the same struggles, the same unhelpful thought patterns. We will do the same thing again and again and expect different results.

I started re-reading the book of Joshua today. The Israelites are about to cross the Jordan to head into the Promised Land. God gives Joshua a string of directives and things to remember, ending with, “For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Israelites had a few things they needed to work on. They needed to trudge forward without fear. They needed to remember the instructions God gave Moses on how to live, meditating on them day and night. They needed to choose courage and not discouragement. And finally, they needed to remember that wherever you go, there God is.

What would happen if in 2014, we played the “Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life” game?

What would happen if we began the New Year focused on who He is rather than who we want to become?

How about we make it goal to take God at His Word in 2014, no matter what comes our way, meditating on that Word day and night? What if we allow God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to change the internals and allow the external changes to flow out of God remaking us from the inside out? What if we chose hope and courage instead of fear and disillusionment? If we really believed that nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 17:20), and that we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), if we truly believe God is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9), how drastically different would our lives be?

Wherever you go, there God is.

What about you? What is God speaking to you about your hopes for the new year? 

Freedom Friday: Are You Being Honest?

We have a serious problem in the church today.

We lie to each other.

We lie every time that we feel deeply broken and in pain, and yet we say we’re fine.

We lie every time we skip church because we don’t want to face the question, “How are you?”

We lie every time someone opens up about a struggle and, because of pride and fear, we pat them on the back, saying, “I’ll pray for you, friend!” rather than sharing how we’ve faced a similar struggle.

We lie to each other.

In Russell Willingham’s amazing book, Relational Masks, he addresses the core beliefs that make us feel as if we must put on our smiles and act as if everything is OK.

One major core belief is this: If I am honest, I will be abandoned. 

Shame runs deep. It began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve tried to cover up the truth for their all-knowing Creator. If Adam and Eve struggled with honesty in their relationship with God, how much more so do we need to fight against this tendency in our lives.

Russell Willingham stated this in a teaching I once heard: we demonstrate the above core belief by always putting our best foot forward and never letting anyone see our weaknesses. We have this secret fear that if we’re honest about how deep the brokenness goes, we’ll be thrown out on our ears.

A lot of these core beliefs are based on experiences we’ve actually lived through. Some of our families would shut down our honesty. We’ve shared our struggles and experienced rejection. Thus, we don’t risk with people. We’re always respectable. We act like we have it all together.

Paul address in the church in Ephesus. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). You can read the context of the passage here. Paul was giving the believers instructions on new ways of living and interacting.

Paul was basically telling Christians to stop lying to each other. 

Because that’s our tendency. Our tendency, since the Garden, is to hide. Hide our sin, hide our brokenness, hide our shame. Act as if we’ve got it all together and we don’t need help.

Russell Willingham states that we need a commitment to truth-telling in our lives.

What have you gained, spiritually, by being dishonest?

With God?
With your friends?
With those around you who can help you?

Why do we put on our smiling faces and go to church when we are totally broken inside? Or worse yet, skip church all together during those tough weeks?

I know from my own life and years of ministry, we have a desperate need to be seen. That is the imprint of God within our hearts. He did not create us for isolation. He created us for love, acceptance and support in the safety of authentic, healthy community. He deposited in us a need for affirmation, for honesty, for the freedom that is found when we bring our struggles to the light.

Here’s the thing: not everyone can handle honesty. And not everyone has earned a place of trust in our lives that we should tell them our struggles. Remember Jesus’ example of 3 intimate friends and 9 other good friends. So you may have to go to a number of people before you find a safe place to share your heart. But it’s worth the risk. You were created for relationship. God designed freedom, healing and growth to happen in the context of community.

Will you take a risk today? Would you risk being honest, and, in the process, risk finding the freedom you long for?

Monday Morning Meditation: Look Beyond Your Mountains

Today’s verses are Psalm 121, verses 1-2.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

What is in your view today?

It’s Monday. You may have a crazy week ahead of you with many challenges.

What will you fix your eyes on?

I’ve shared here several times that we are in a particularly challenging season. We have numerous obstacles in front of us, hurdles I’ve never had to face before.

I am an analyzer. I am a fixer. I like to try to figure things out, and even as I pray about these difficulties and try and release them to God, I find myself imagining the various ways God could come through.

In doing this, I am only fixing my eyes on my problems.

These are some of my earliest memory verses, a reminder of where my focus should be:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV1984)

Charles Spurgeon says this of Psalm 121, “Dwellers in valleys are subject to many disorders for which there is no cure but a sojourn in the uplands, and it is well when they shake off their lethargy and resolve upon a climb.”

Are you in a valley, staring at your obstacles? Is your view full of mountains? Is it time to shake off your lethargy? Raise your eyes up a little higher, and start climbing. Your help comes not from anything here on earth, but from the One who made the earth.

Freedom Friday: Are Your Dreams Suffocating?

What have you been dreaming about lately?

Are there dreams that God has deposited in your heart?

There have been many times God stirred a vision in my heart: for my life, my family, my marriage, His calling. Thinking about the dream, praying through it, processing it made me come alive. It stirred a longing in me that is often silenced.

Then something changes.

Life happens, circumstances are difficult, my perspective tells me it’s not worth it to hope. My dreams are too big, too ludicrous – just too much.

It reminds me of the parable of the sower that Jesus told in Luke 8. My dreams become like the seed that fell among thorns.

“The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.” verse 14

What are the thorns suffocating your dreams?


If we serve a God of hope, and hope does not disappoint….

If hope that is seen is not really hope (“if we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it,” Romans 8:24 NLT)……

Why do we allow our dreams to be suffocated?

There is a simple answer.

Fear.

My main thorn is fear.

Fear drowns hope. It keeps my dreams bound, caged, suffocating.

How do we combat fear?

With love.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV84)

If God is love, if His love is unfailing and never-ending, why do I fear? Why do I doubt?

When I look to the cross, can I still believe anything is impossible for God?

This thought popped into my head today: I never want to stop dreaming.

I need to find a way to keep my dreams alive, to fight off the thorns that threaten to silence them.

“And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” Luke 8:15

Is fear suffocating your dreams today? What would happen if you received God’s unfailing love?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

What dream of yours needs to be revived today?

Other helpful posts:
Are Your Dreams Asleep?
How To Keep Dreams Alive
Living Your Amazing Without Suffocating

Monday Morning Meditation: The Fear of the Lord (Psalm 34 series)

This is part 4 of the Monday Morning Meditation Psalm 34 series.

Here are today’s verses.

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

Commentators say David did not have any children when he wrote this. Rather, he is talking to those he brought alongside him (mentioned in verse 3 and discussed in week 1). He emphasizes, “Listen; this is important. Learn this when you are young if possible. Fear God.”

I’ll be very honest and say I don’t completely understand what it means to fear God. I have asked Christians I respect their interpretation of this concept, I’ve listening to podcasts about it and read commentaries. It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

Fear can mean to “cause awe or astonishment, revere and respect.” That, I can understand. But to “be afraid?” I’m just not sure. I talked about this a little last week, as fear was also part of that excerpt.

I think the surrounding verses are very helpful in discerning what God means in this case.

Fearing God, in this case, means being careful of what you say, what you seek, and what you pursue. This is confirmed as well in verses 9-10. We are careful of what we say and what we set our mind to because we are in awe of all God is, all He has done, and all He has yet to do.

It’s interesting to me that David says he will teach them about this fear, not that God will teach them. This is part of why I’ve asked Christians I respect what this means to them. Thus, this week, I’m asking God and you all: what does “fear of the Lord” mean to you? I’m asking God to show me in a new way how to revere, respect and fear Him. I’m also focusing on keeping my heart, my mind and my mouth in check.

Freedom Friday: The God Who Protects



I’ve written a couple of blog posts on the character of God. I’ve also done 2 posts on the theme of “The God Who” (bends & sustains are past favorites) and will continue that today with The God Who Protects.

I wrote in the Monday Morning Meditation this week about the following verse:
“He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalm 91:4
Before we dive any more into the concept of God as protector, let’s revisit some questions I asked in Monday’s blog post.

What do you wear as armor?

Do you self-protect, or allow God to be your refuge and tower of safety?

I tried to protect myself for much of my life. I thought I could be safe if I were skinny. When that garnered too much attention, I gained 50 pounds. That didn’t work either. Pushing people away with my behavior only left me hurt and desperately lonely.

“The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.” Psalm 116:6 (NIV1984)

I tried to protect myself by hiding. Hiding my feelings, my fears, my struggles and insecurities. This would eventually backfire, as I’m an external processor and everything I tried to keep in would burst forth like a beach ball held under water.

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7
(NIV1984)

I continued to try to self-protect while following Jesus. I thought, “I can’t tell anyone about same-sex attraction, the fact that I self-injure, or that I hate myself on a regular basis. I’ll project the image that I have it all together so no one questions me.” This facade is not something that I could maintain healthily for lots of reasons, the bottom line being that God didn’t want me to protect or trust in myself.

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.” Psalm 91:15 (NLT)

How have you self-protected? Maybe more importantly, why?

Stop and think about your fears. What would happen if you chose to allow God into all areas of your life?


Grab your Bible and look up some of these psalms I’ve quoted. Consider what they have to say about God’s protection. Ask Him to reveal the ways you have tried to protect yourself, and be willing to lay those down. Ask God’s forgiveness for your unwillingness to believe He is able to preserve and protect you, and trust Him to care for you in the area of protection.

“He is my loving ally and my fortress,
My tower of safety, my deliverer.
He stands before me as a shield and I take refuge in Him.” Psalm 144:2

The God who protects.

Freedom Friday: Battling Fear

I’m battling fear today.
There are several scary situations I’m facing right now. My fears are random and widespread. Most are founded; some are unfounded.
For most of my life, fear dictated my choices and what I did & didn’t do. Fear of rejection & abandonment. Fear that I wasn’t good enough and would never be. Fear that I wasn’t lovable. Fear that I would not have the strength to make it through the challenges I was facing.
Fear paralyzed me.
Fear could easily rule my life, if I allowed it to. Today is a good reminder of that.

My husband told me I needed to write Freedom Friday about fear. So here I am, writing these reminders mostly to myself. I hope they are helpful to you as well.
Once you recognize that fear is affecting you, here are some ways to address it.
1. Name your fears.
Write down what you are afraid of, and, if you can pinpoint it, why you battle those fears. I blogged before about fear of the unknown. It goes hand in hand with fear of discomfort, fear of new suffering. A common one I’ve been addressing lately is fear of failure; another is fear of success. I actually believe they go hand in hand. Fear of failure is often rooted in self-image issues. Not only are we afraid we are worthless, we are also afraid we are full of worth. We are afraid to shine, to walk in freedom, to live out our amazing.
Name your fears. Don’t be shy. Journal about them or just speak them out to God in prayer. Lay them at the cross, and then….
2. Address your fears with Scripture.
Fear can have an enormously crippling effect on our journey toward living in the fullness of all God created us to be.
Fear is not something to be ashamed of. People make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Jesus knew we’d be afraid. God knew fear was a part of life; that’s why He continually reminds us in His Word to not fear, but rather rely on His strength and trust in Him.
Search the Word for Scriptures about not being afraid. Find God’s direction about walking in His strength, about having courage and finding hope. Read them aloud and ask God to make the words come alive, that they would ring true in your heart & life. Remember that God is a God of peace:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

3. Choose to trust.
Give your fears to God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego chose to trust God when Nebuchadnezzar was going to throw them into the fiery furnace. Their response is so challenging to me: “We do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Even if He doesn’t?
I blog a lot about trust. In one of my first posts, I shared about how I trusted God with the child who was growing inside me, and yet, that child died.
Even if He doesn’t.
Trusting God is not about “believing for” a sunny outcome. It’s a choice to trust that God’s perspective is far above mine, that He is good, that He is faithful, no matter what occurs.
4. Do it afraid.
Joyce Meyer says when we are too afraid to do something, we should “do it afraid.”
As I wrote this blog post, I thought of a story Steve Arterburn shared on his radio program, New Life Live. Early on in his career, he came up with what he thought was a fantastic idea for a conference. He felt God was in it. He booked a hotel, a ballroom, advertised, and waited. The event day came, and the turnout was pitifully small. By all perspectives, he had failed.
Then he had another idea for a conference. A rather strange idea coming from him, as it would be an all women’s conference. While he could have chosen to be paralyzed by fear because of his past failure, he rather decided to move forward, full-throttle. It would be called “Women of Faith.
I imagine most of you have heard of it.
I read over on their site today that 388,000 women made first-time decisions to follow Jesus at a Women of Faith event. What would have happened if Steve Arterburn had let fear dictate his choices?
Do it afraid. Michael Hyatt says, “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of your fear.” So I trudge forward; I do it afraid.
As I wrapped up the typing of this, God reminded me of His goodness. If He is really good, who am I to fear? If He is able to speak the world into existence, is anything too much for Him to handle?
What fears are you facing today? How can you, with God’s help and sustenance, press through them to go to the next level?
A note to readers: if you follow my Facebook page, you know that I will be starting a new blog series, in addition to Freedom Fridays, called Monday Morning Meditation. Look for it on Monday! And if you don’t follow me on Facebook, do consider it. I often post speaking engagements and other news there. You can also find me on Twitter.

Freedom Friday: Fear of the Unknown

I became a Christian halfway through my 3 years at Second College (I went to college elsewhere for 2 years, took 2 years off, and transferred to a new school to finish).

Initially, I was amazed. God revealed Himself to me, daily, in big ways and little ways.

He came through.

He showed Himself strong.

He was faithful.

Then life happened. I made some bad choices. I didn’t ask God for His help in certain areas. And I found myself in a destructive, and yet familiar, relationship with a woman who “needed my help.”

It’s no secret that I was gay-identified for almost a decade. By the time I came to know Jesus, my identity was firmly planted in being gay. It was who I was, and it was what I knew. It was familiar. It was comfortable in its discomfort (as I talked about last week).

I didn’t know anything else but being gay. So when this relationship began, it simply stood to reinforce my fear: the fear of the unknown.

The fear of the unknown is a powerful force. It keeps us in unhealth because the unhealth we know is familiar. It’s a known pain, a known chaos.

It also keeps us in situations that aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but are not God’s best for us. They are not the next step in God’s plan.

Fear of the unknown keeps us chained.

It keeps us from moving forward.

It keeps us from our Promised Land.

Exodus 14 begins with the Israelites camped by the Red Sea. Pharaoh decided he made a mistake in letting the Israelites go and began to follow them.

We pick up the story in verse 10:

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

People stay in or run back to miserable situations because of the fear of the unknown. The above quote from the Israelites is a perfect example of that.

I was a perfect example of this. The woman I was in a relationship with had a lot of problems. I had a lot of problems. Even in the best of circumstances, we would have made a horrible match! Underneath that rebellious choice to enter into a relationship that I knew to be wrong was a broken child crying out to her heavenly father, “Are You really enough for me? Can I leave behind everything I’ve known and built my life upon for the unknown that is a relationship with You?”

I have to remember, as I read the above passage, that the Israelites were just beginning to walk out of generations of slavery. It was all they had ever experienced. It was all they knew. They had no context for the Promised Land.

Continuing on in Exodus:

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”

Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened a path through the water for the Israelites. In my case, my girlfriend dumped me, and I decided, painstakingly, one-step-at-a-time, to choose to trust God, not only in the area of my sexuality, but also with my whole life.

When God calls us to something new, it’s not surprising that we will experience fear. Like the Israelites, we have no context for this new journey; all we have is context for the old one. The “what if’s”, the questions, the obstacles – they overwhelm us. They keep us standing still.

But in those moments, you have a choice: stick with the pain you know, or choose to trust God and forge ahead into the pain you don’t know. The latter is a choice to trust that God is who He says He is and He will do what He has said He will do. It’s a choice to believe that He must have something better for you, that this can’t be all there is, that if He’s asking you to move forward, then He will carry us through.

If you are overcome by a fear of the unknown today, surrender it to God. Give Him your questions and hesitations; He’s not afraid of them. Then, stand by. Wait and see how God will fight for you and what He wants to accomplish for you. And “do it afraid”, as Joyce Meyer says. As God commanded the Israelites, go forward, despite the fear. Do not let fear of the unknown paralyze you or keep you from living in the fullness of all God has for you.

I’m praying Romans 15:13 for you today: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”