Find Rest My Soul

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My Refuge and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:1-2

There is rest…and there is a rest; one is temporary, the other eternal.

We can find a temporary rest by taking a nap, getting away to a quiet place, finding something that we enjoy outside of work and busyness.  All of those can be so good and necessary. I love getting away to places like the mountains or the beach, but I often find a sweet respite simply in my backyard  – hearing the birds, seeing the wild rabbit or two cautiously make their way in, feeling the gentle breezes or listening to the quiet rain.  But we all know it is temporary.  We get back to the “must dos” and “demands,” and no matter how much we enjoy the daily tasks of life, we will eventually want another “rest.”

But the “rest” that is eternal can be found even in the “busyness” or the “hard” and allows us to find joy in the wonderful as well as the impossible days and seasons! It is found in relationship with the One who has promised rest for our souls when we have been redeemed and are His children! “Times of refreshing” come when we repent (turn away from self-rule) and turn to God Himself (Acts 3:19), allowing Him to order our steps and settle our souls.

The Psalmist talks about the person who “dwells” in the shelter of the Most High; that person who settles his life under the Lordship of Christ, where he “lives and exists” in his actions and in the very being of his soul! And, when that is His “dwelling,” He will abide; yes, he will encamp and remain in that submitted heart and so be rooted and protected.  It is part of that perseverance with which the Holy Spirit equips us that gives us the ability to settle our lives in that “shelter” and there find rest, not just to get “back in the game,” as a dear friend says, but to walk even in the midst of the “game.”

As we intentionally set our gaze on the Most High God through His Word, staying in and standing on that which He has given us to “teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness,” His Spirit strengthens us and “equips for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As we cry out to Him to give us the ability to focus our sight and to stay and stand, asking Him for that equipping, He meets His children and shelters us from the stormy blasts.  He may not take us out of the tempests, but He will settle our soul moment by moment.

As we intentionally remember His faithfulness in the past – yes, even recounting those instances to ourselves and others – and hold firmly to His promised faithfulness in the present and the future, we stand secure. 

As we lock arms with other believers, each taking the other boldly to the throne of grace when we are weary or when we long for a chorus of voices to be petitioning our Father, we strengthen one another against those who would tell us we will never have victory over sadness or sin.

Of course, we can choose the opposite of rest; we can choose to make ourselves “lord of our own lives” and live according to our own rules and the emotions that direct our decisions but leave us on shifting sand.  We can hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness for ourselves and others and find our souls are scarred and our relationship with the Lord hindered.

But why do we think we would find “rest” in defying the God of all Creation, whose love and justice and mercy are inextricably tied together to reign and rule and give us sure hope?

 Why would we choose turmoil when He has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and peace for the one whose mind is stayed on Him? (Isaiah 26:3)

Why would we choose to follow our deceitful hearts that lie to us when we can follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life and accept the free gift of grace – that Jesus willingly gave his life and was resurrected as payment for our rebellion – and turn from our self-rule and self-worship, throwing off “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles?” (Hebrews 12:1)

Why would we choose the restlessness that comes from following the world rather than the rest that comes from trusting the One who created and established the world and enables us to walk secure even over stony ground?

Though it is hard business at times, truly even the difficult moments ultimately work together for good (even when they are not in themselves “good”) by our faithful God for “those who do love Him and are called according to HIS purpose” not our own. (Romans 8:28)

We will weep, but He wipes our tears.

We will be wounded, but He binds our wounds and allows the scars to be “standing stones,” reminders of His faithfulness.

We will at times feel shaken, but, as we receive Christ Jesus the Lord and “so walk in Him,” we will be “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2:6-7) He will be our rock and our salvation, our fortress, so we will never be shaken! (Psalm 62:2)

We will be assaulted by those seeking, sometimes quite subtly, to whisper as the serpent did in the Garden, “Did God really say?” in an attempt to dissuade us from our sure hope, and so, our rest.  But we can and must stand on that which will never be shaken and will never change, His Word.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”  (Colossians 2:8)

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:5)

This world is not our home, but we travel it with joy.

This world is not our home, but we travel it delighting in the goodness of our God and His faithfulness.

This world is not our home, but we travel it by setting our hope fully on the grace of God, on Jesus the Author and Perfector of our faith, so that we can run the race set before us with perseverance and endurance, not begrudgingly, but with great expectation and delight.

And when we need that “rest” from the race, we can find it by calling to Him, finding any little spot or wide open space, with open Bible and open heart, and He will give you rest as you eagerly seek Him alone to establish your life and settle your soul even in the most tumultuous times.

“Call to Me, I will answer you and tell you wonderful things that you did not know!” Jeremiah 33:3

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!…Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” Hebrews 12:1-3, 28

Setting Our Hearts to Rest

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I want to wait on the Lord!

I want to be faithful!

I want to hear His voice and trust His hand!

I want to “not fear anything that is frightening.” (I Peter 3:6)

Sometimes the Lord allows circumstances into our lives that are uncomfortable at best, painful at worst. But they are not without purpose – even when we can’t see that purpose.

Being set upon an anvil, the heat is increased, and the re-shaping is painful, but it is good.

Growing physically can have discomfort, but it is good.

There is goodness in God allowing hard places into our lives regardless of the discomfort in various ways. Naturally, we don’t like it, but I don’t want to miss the moment; I don’t want to miss what He wants me to learn and how He wants me to grow.

We can trust the One who is Creator and Sustainer because, as CS Lewis so poignantly said of Aslan, a beautiful picture of Christ in his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, “He is not safe, but He is good!”

Yes, we are safe in His arms, but He is still the Almighty King of all even as He has mercy on His children; He reigns as Judge but remains our Father for those who have put their faith in Him.

We can be carried by Him, but we must never mistake that familiarity and that tenderness for a casual relationship. Were we to be in His presence, we would fall to our knees in the face of His glory!

And THAT is good!

We live in a time of history when our “plans” have been and are being, as the proverbial apple cart, “completely upset,” totally upended.

We find the news of each new day a little more unsettling regardless of our response to it.

And the ground beneath doesn’t just feel shaky, it is.

But, therein lies the importance of knowing the certainty of your foundation.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…’Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (Psalm 46:1-3, 10)

If my confidence is built on my health…

If my security is based on what I own…

If my joy is dependent on my circumstances…

If my hope is built on my abilities and/or my job…

If my steadfastness is built on my plans…

I will eventually be moved; I will be shaken!

But, if “…my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from Him…” then “Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken…” (Psalm 62:5-6)

When what I see is unclear, when what I desire is either hindered, set back, or is no more, when the circumstances around me are unsure…I must choose to stand on what I know more than on what I feel.

I must choose faith in the God who doesn’t change.

I must choose trust in the One who has the ability to say to the seas, “This far and no farther!”

I must choose joy that comes from a knowledge of and settling in the truth of God’s Word and His character, His ability to settle any frustration or fear.

I must choose to say, ”The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights…” (Habakkuk 3:19)

I must choose to cling to the fact that life in this fallen world will not always “feel” good; in fact, it may feel quite the opposite. But God is in the midst of doing things in us and in our world we cannot see.

He is getting the world’s attention and our own. The world is unsettled, but He stands secure.

Will I rail against what He is trying to do in and through me? Or will I say, “Not my will but yours, Lord – use me!” and then respond to His answers.

Will I grow angry with the response whether I think it is too much or too little? Or will I be faithful in the little things, courageous and bold to speak life to those I encounter, “giving reason for the hope (in Christ) that I have…with gentleness” (I Peter 3:15) that is not dependent on my ease and my comfort, pointing them to the life-giving Gospel that sets eternity in motion both now and forever!

Will I give that word of comfort and a smile of hope to those I encounter whose very faces are etched with fear?

Will I humble myself before the Lord, asking Him to cleanse me, His child, of all unrighteousness, to show me my sin, and to ask Him to change me so that, as I seek His face, He might heal our land?

Will I pray not only for an end to difficult situations and how they affect me, but pray even more fervently for the Lord to bring glory to Himself, that He be exalted in all the earth?

Will I ask Him to soften hard hearts and give sight to blind eyes, even those long settled in a false sense of protection who are still trying to earn their way to Him, that they might see their need of the Savior and be redeemed by His work for us?

Will I, hand in hand, “serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling?” (Psalm 2:11)

And when I am too weary or saddened to choose well, will I call out to my Abba Father, my Jehovah Shalom, “Carry me! Be my peace! Give me the faith to trust when I can’t see, the strength to reset my stand!”

The world is in an odd place right now, one we have never known; everything we have counted on and set our security upon is being tossed. But our God is not caught unaware; our God is not shaken.

None of us are exempt from some measure of the “uncomfortable” in all of this.  But the Lord has called us to “carry one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

The Lord never calls us to walk alone even when we have to “self-isolate.”  He is “near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”  (Psalm 145:18) and He has given us “one another” whether it be in close proximity or through the gift of technology.  Let me walk this road with you; let me carry your burdens even if it is just for you to share the fears you have. I would count it a privilege to pray for you, to take you to our Father’s throne of grace, as you share your concerns with me.

My hope IS built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness, and so I can choose to “set my eyes on things above not on things below.” (Colossians 3:2)

And, as I do that in the power of the Holy Spirit who is able to supernaturally create that response in me, I will increase my trust and faith in the Lord and decrease my draw towards growing angry with or fearful of circumstances.

When I feel my heart start to tremble, I will ask the Lord to teach me to “be still and KNOW that He is God” and let His Spirit set my soul at rest.

Long ago, when we were facing some significant decisions, my husband and I were having a conversation about it in the car, our small children were in the backseat. Obviously, I was expressing some concerns and it was evident. Softly at first, then growing a little more intense, the clear little voice of my then three-year old daughter came from the back seat singing:

“I cast all my cares upon You;

I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.

And, any time, I don’t know what to do,

I will cast all my cares upon You.”

Out of the mouth of babes, God reset my heart to trust Him for what I couldn’t see! He gave me a supernatural peace unexplainable in human terms.

I ask Him to do that again for me, for my family, for you in this moment and the next!

As we are in Christ, we can be assured; we can “set our hope fully on the grace to be given us at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (I Peter 1:13) and we can rest, truly rest!

In His Joy and Peace,

Dawn

The Miracles We Often Miss

We love to hear stories of unexplained physical healing which we know can only be the hand of God!

We love to hear accounts of relationships restored and brokenness healed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We love to hear first-hand narratives of those who have waited long for someone – a child to conceive or adopt or the person to marry – and God orchestrating that in timing and ways we could never design so well.

We love to hear tales of an impending disaster that was averted or rescues for which there is no other explanation other than God intervening.

And, because God is at work, they happen all around us.

We rightly shout, “To God be the glory; He is the Author of that miracle!” Indeed, He is and He has been doing so across time! Those are the miracles in which we most often rejoice, and for which we are quick to sing His praise!

And there are the every day miracles in His created world: a baby formed in the womb, growing to take his or her first breath; the sunshine that warms our days and the moon that reflects that sun; the stars the twinkle and the rain that falls; the ocean breezes and the mountain snows; the air we breathe and beauty of His creation across the continents.

But sometimes (and maybe, more often than not), we miss the miracles we don’t call miracles at all. We fail to see or we make light of the inexplicable work He is doing in hearts when the physical healing doesn’t come, when the relationship is not restored, when the disaster is not averted; when faith replaces fear, and hope overshadows discouragement.

Over the short term and the long months and years, much can and does happen in the lives of those we love.  In our own circle, there have been some miraculous answers to prayer – yes, unexplained other than by the gracious hand of God whose will it has been to have His glory expressed through physical healing, children being added to our homes by birth and adoption, relationships restored, and lives redeemed by the living God through Christ! And we have given God praise and honor for all these things!

But, there are also other circumstances in which God is saying, “I am here, I see, I am at work…but wait!”

The journey is just beginning, and what He will do is not yet known. We believe Him for it, and we hope for it; but He is saying, “Wait for it!”

The journey has been long, and the battles wearying. We set our hope on Him, we watch, and we pray; but He is saying, “Wait for it!”

Perhaps the miracle is in learning to wait, learning to trust when we cannot see, learning to cry out through tears, “I can’t do this, Lord; carry me and make me able!” Even if we never get the answer for which we long.

And I have been reminded recently that sometimes, when those answers don’t come quickly, God hears our cries and allows us to ask “Why?” and “How long?” just as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 13, not as a ill-tempered child, but as a weary warrior who truly wants to trust and who comes to our good, good Father with a sincere heart that says, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)  Or, “Even if you don’t answer as I want, again with the Psalmist I will say, ‘But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD…You are my God…Save me in Your lovingkindness.’” (Psalm 31)

I think of my sister’s dear friend and worship leader, Laura Story – her own hard but trust-instilling questions throughout her song, “What if Your blessings come through raindrops; what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life are Your blessings in disguise?”

What if our trials, our hard places, our broken bodies and wounded hearts are opportunities for miracles in disguise? The miracle of God leading to a place of rest; the miracle of God working in us and through us, moment by moment, transforming our responses in spite of us and giving us strength not just for the long road ahead but for the next step, the next minute.

“His grace is sufficient” is not a platitude! It is a very real promise of God for those who are His redeemed children in Christ Jesus, for those who set their eyes on Him and stare at the Savior more than at their circumstances. “His power IS made perfect in weakness!” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

It is the sure hope of those who have said, “Not my will but yours, Lord,” who have not just acknowledged that He exists, but who have laid their very lives and pursuits at the cross and said, “I am Yours; deal with me according to your lovingkindness and teach me, use me, change me…”

I have seen and am seeing THOSE miracles!

One I love dearly has a body that has been broken by illness for many years, but her joy and her hope in Christ is palpable! He is doing miracles through her; He is changing and strengthening lives through her in spite of our pleas for Him to heal.

Does she long for wholeness? Of course, but does she hope in the Lord? She does!

Does she make it clear that her joy is because of Him, that her hope is not in the here and now but in eternity? She does.

Is her desire for God to be glorified, for believers to be strengthened, and unbelievers to come to a saving relationship with God through Jesus? It is!

We spoke of that just last week!

That is a miracle! That is God renewing her strength and her hope and her joy day by day regardless of what that day may hold; the miracle is Him giving it in the first place and “continuing the good work He began in her…carrying it to completion”* when I know she doesn’t “feel” like it at times!

Another I love deeply longs to add to their family, and we have prayed without ceasing. But, at this time, God has said, “Wait for it!” And, in that waiting and longing, they rejoice and trust the One who has called them to Himself and has shown Himself faithful. That is a miracle!

Watching and waiting with expectation and trusting when the longing is so great!

Others I love are facing medical issues – some that are likely to have an answer that will be just what we desire and others not – but the wait on doctors and diagnosis and treatments is a reality.

Could the miracle be in God giving each of them (and those of us who wait alongside them) the ability to persevere, pray with expectation, and respond in faith regardless of the answers?

Could the miracle be the growing to hunger more for the Lord and His return than what happens in our earthly bodies?

Could the miracle be in desiring more of our Savior as we watch and wait and long for His presence in the here and now?

I admit – I don’t wait well. I desire quick answers for them as I do when I am in these circumstances. But, it is often true, that God teaches and grows me so much more when He makes me wait…because my eyes can then be nowhere else but on my Savior rather than on me trying to “fix a problem or find a solution.”

I’ve seen God work in my own heart, as I weep deeply for people and situations in my life and theirs, but He is constantly reminding me that weeping does not have to give way to worry.  We can walk with the Comforter even if our steps are slow and plodding.

He is teaching me to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when my thoughts want to run ahead of my Savior and as the lie of fear wants to overtake my heart and mind. He is reminding me over again that I can and must pray “in expectation” (Psalm 5) because He hears, He is faithful, and His ways are not my ways – they are good even when they don’t “feel” good!

I’ve watched bitter hearts soften to forgive even when a deep hurt is not acknowledged or a broken relationship isn’t restored. And I’ve seen the sweetness of a heart resting in Jesus, despite it.

Could the miracle be in resting even while we wrestle with our unmet desires and expectations?

Could the miracle be looking back and recognizing what God has done in us over the years as we have learned to pray more intentionally and to watch and wait, not perfectly, but more faithfully?

Could the miracle be that we have learned to forgive, in spite of deep wounds, and as we have humbly become more transparent and more ready to allow Him to chip away at our own self-wills so we could see Him doing a work of grace, first in us, as only He could do?

Could the miracle be that we have seen Him take what looked like a terrible situation that seemed to be unredeemable and work in us and in others, rescuing and restoring what was lost or damaged or making us still faithful if not?

Could the miracle be in experiencing peace where there is no peace, hope when circumstances don’t warrant it?

Could the miracle be in Him working in us so that we can, “Be still and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Those are actions of the Holy in Spirit as He teaches and equips His children to say, “Do in your servant what you will…to You be the glory!” One step at a time.

We want physical and emotional healing; He wants redeemed souls!

“…which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Matthew 9:5

We want restored relationships with one another; He wants those but, even more, He wants us to have a relationship with Him.

“…our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession…” (Titus 2:14)

We want trouble-free lives; He wants us to lean on, trust, and see Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We want quick solutions; He wants to train us to persevere in the long haul to grow us and teach us to hope in Him (though growing is oft times painful).

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Maybe our response – our real pain that is marked by real tears and frustration but that is woven into, even overshadowed, by our real faith in God Himself – is what brings God glory, is what will make people seek Him and see Him!

We can answer, “I don’t know why, and it hurts! Yet will I trust Him! Yet will I put my hope in Him!”

The miracle of God in our deepest fears, our greatest trials, our scariest diagnosis, our most broken of relationships, everything that is evidence of a world tainted by sin but that is not the final reality…is that we have hope in the God who spoke this world into existence and in the Son who is coming to reign again.

The miracle is that we can weep for a moment, but that joy comes in the morning. We can long for the coming day when this world, that is but a shadow of what is to come, is in the past and the wholeness, which we who are redeemed through and submitted to Christ anticipate, is realized in that day!

The miracle is that God carries us when we can’t fathom another step, that His Spirit comforts us when our tears flow hot and heavy, and that He emboldens us to stand on His true, unchanging Word in the face of an enemy who wants to defeat us with fear.

The miracle defined is that He became Emmanuel, God with us, to redeem us from ourselves and make us His own.

We can know Him. We can love Him. We can anticipate with certainty an eternity with Him. We can rest in our Living Hope.

Don’t miss the miracles!

Don’t miss the greatest miracle!

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

“For this very 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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-8)

“From where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”    Psalm 121:1-2

*Philippians 1:6

Peace! Be Still!

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Peace – be still!

Sometimes those are the hardest words to hear.

Sometimes they feel like platitudes.

Sometimes we cannot fathom that either are possible.

Yet, Jesus, God in flesh, spoke these very words – to a raging storm.

And, it obeyed.

Peace – be still!

We want what they convey, but we know we can’t muster it; too often, we can’t settle our own souls.

But God!

And, sometimes, it is in those “But God” moments, that all we can do to utter a whisper, to not let the terror of the turmoil, the hurt of the heart, the discouragement of the moments piled upon moments, or the overwhelming heaviness of life set in.

It’s all we can do to utter a whisper, but it’s all we need.

Jesus!

Peace – be still!

If Jesus can say that to the winds and waves and they surrender to Him, can He not also say that to our trembling souls?

Can He not make it so, settling our hearts Himself by His Spirit?

There is no storm so fierce that the Savior cannot still it – even if it is in us.

And, if the storm still rages on, He will hold His child, steady us, and cause us to be still.

Peace!

 

“Fear Not,” Said Daddy

The day was clear and the sun was shining; all seemed perfect for a family outing at the amusement park! To me, there was no better place in all the world to just enjoy being seven years old.

We quickly got our tickets and, with me way ahead of my brothers, sisters, and parents, we entered my “perfect world.” I ran first to the bumper cars, then the airplanes, the water flume, the mine train – all the rides that were just my size. For one with so much enthusiasm for adventure, it was almost overload!

After about an hour, my dad led me to what he said would be the “most fun of all.” As I stared up at the monstrous creature before me, tears filled my eyes! My “perfect world” no longer seemed so perfect and my enthusiasm all but vanished.

“Come on, honey,” Daddy shouted, “You’ll love it!”

“I can’t, Daddy!” I cried, “It’s too big, too fast! I’m just a little girl!”

“You can do this…But I’ll let you make that choice; wait for us here while we go,” he said as they all ran excitedly up the ramp and towards the enormous roller coaster.

I sat on the bench with my head in my hands as I fought back hot tears, not only because I was having to wait alone and I wanted to not be afraid but also because I knew how disappointed my daddy would be in his little girl. He knew my love for trying new things so I’m sure he was surprised when I stood resolute. I’m also sure his heart broke a little when he saw my tears falling.

But my daddy knew this moment in time was bigger than what loomed before me; he knew it was an opportunity to teach and to train. And it was the way he raised us – seize those teachable moments wherever they arose.

So, when they all got off and were getting in line again, he tried once more to convince me. “You don’t have to be afraid; I’ll be right there beside you.” But I stayed firmly planted on the bench while everyone else ran back around for the second time with smiles and laughter.

As Daddy got in line for the third time, he felt a tug at his shirt.   Looking down, he saw me staring up at him with a cautious smile.

“I’ll go, Daddy, if you’ll sit beside me.” I barely got the words out when it was time to board the ride.

Eyes closed tightly, hands gripping the safety bar, I snuggled close to him as the ride started off with a jolt. We were sent soaring, higher and faster. Slowly my eyes opened a little at a time.  It was terrifying but so much fun.

This little girl who loved adventure, climbing, and proving she could do what the big kids could do and love it, was in her element. But first I had to face my fear.

Too soon it came to an end and we had to get off. I ran to the end of the line and, with great boldness, declared, “If you don’t mind, Daddy, I think I’ll ride alone this time!”

And sitting in the very first car all by myself, eyes wide open, and with a great big grin on my face, I was off on the first of many wild roller coaster rides without my daddy.

In fact, it was just the beginning of a lifetime of “facing my fears,” one of those life lessons my dad brought home to my heart over and over again.

Most of my life, if I said I was too unsure or afraid to do something, his immediate response would be, “Then you need to do it!” And when I would tell him of an experience where I had to put that encouragement into action, I could see his smile and hear his joy through his words, “That a girl!”

In the moments when he was there at bedtime and we would be making up stories and talking about the day, in the opportunities when we would be driving in the car on a quick errand or a long trip, he would remind me that we face our fears – every time – because we don’t want fear to cast a shadow over our lives, we don’t want to miss opportunities, and we can know that, because we are His, God is with us, bigger than our fears.  He would remind me that I could face the impossible because God is bigger than the impossible. He would remind me that the scary things of life can be and should be faced knowing God can be trusted to walk with us and give us the courage to do or to endure.

The roller coaster was one of the first of many “face your fears” moments in my life. But it wasn’t the biggest nor the last.

Sometimes I have risen to the occasion and sometimes my fear has caused me to “stay firmly planted on the bench.” And always, I heard and still hear my daddy’s voice, “You can do this…I’ll be right here beside you.” And, while I know my dad has not actually always been right beside me in each of those moments, I have known his encouragement and have always known that my Abba Father, God who is my tender heavenly Daddy, Faithful and True, is indeed right here with me.

I hear the voice of my Heavenly Father say, “Fear not…”

I’m thankful that my dad began to instill this truth of God in my heart that day and, as I grew, he brought it back to Who gave him the courage to face his fears – though it was sometimes hard to imagine that the man who pushed the limits on adrenaline pumping experiences and new challenges had any fear. His confidence began with the One who walks us through adventures and valleys, thrills, and incredibly stifling places; strong, healthy bodies and those broken and racked with evidence of the curse.

And, I’m thankful that, though I lived far away in my adult years, in some of his last days of his last month here on earth before he stepped into eternity where, for those redeemed by the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection, fear is extinguished forever; before the God he loved and proclaimed, I was able to spend time by his side.

And I had the privilege and joy of speaking that truth to him, his once strong body and sound mind now frail, “You’ve told me all my life and I’m going to remind you now, Daddy: You don’t have to be afraid. I’m right here for now, holding your hand. But, most of all, Jesus is right here with you walking you through it all. Our God has told us, ‘Fear not…’ Hold on to and keep your eyes on Him!”

He looked at me through tired but still twinkling eyes, with that winsome, crooked smile that was uniquely my Dad’s and whispered, “It’s good to know I was heard; I guess I’m getting it back now and hearing my own words.”

Thank you for giving it in the first place, Daddy. Thank you for pushing me to step out beyond my fears as a little girl and also as a young woman, and, in the frightening moments not to look at the circumstances. Thank you for teaching and reminding me to look at Jesus – to give thanks and to give up trembling.

You have no fear any longer, Daddy; I’ll see you when God calls me home and, in that moment and in the meantime, I’ll remember not to fear.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!” Isaiah 41:10

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…for I am the Lord your God…do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43

“…do what is right and do not fear anything that is frightening.” I Peter 3:6

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“You can grieve for me the week before I die, if I’m scared and hurting, but when I gasp that last fleeting breath and my immortal soul flees to heaven, I’m going to be jumping over fire hydrants down the golden streets, and my biggest concern, if I have any will be my wife back here grieving. When I die, I will be identified with Christ’s exaltation. But right now, I’m identified with His affliction.” RC Sproul

Until then Daddy…Dawnie

1998 Dad and Me