Fear Not

Fear not

In a culture where fear is ever-present and all-pervasive, we turn to almost anything to find comfort and to find help. There are a million things to be afraid of thanks to the internet and COVID; that number has tripled. 

One of the most repeated phrases in scripture is “fear not” “Do not be afraid.” It’s almost as if the God who created us knows us and knows that much of what we do is driven by the blasphemy of pessimism. This idea is that things are worse than we imagine that things will not end well and that the worst possible thing that can happen will happen. We are plagued by these doubts all the time. Daily we read of people who are being oppressed and killed around the world we know people around us who are struggling with addictions and sorrows. People we love dying of covid, cancer, and suicide takes a toll on our soul. 

The answer that we are given to combat this fear is false optimism. We are told to think happy thoughts, to avoid people with negative energy. In the church, it isn’t much better. Many famous churchmen say that positive confession changes things that our words create in the same way God created the world with his word. We are given the same false optimism the world offers only in attractive wrapping paper called faith. 

The problem with the false optimism the world offers us is that it avoids the difficulty through distraction. The problem with the false optimism the church offers as Chesterton says is that it tries “to prove that we fit in to the world.” We have an idea of how the world should be and to avoid the blasphemy of pessimism we settle for a cheap false optimism. We see the broken world needing mending a world and a life that if not cared for can be lost. We fail to see and understand that this world and this life were never ours they were never our possessions. They are signposts of another world. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins says it this way. 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

Our world is filled with the grandeur of God, charged with his glory. It isn’t great because He created it but because it continues to carry the beauty and glory of who he is from beginning to end. Its job is to point us to what can really help us in the middle of pandemics and pain. We are not citizens of this world. We were made for another world. This world despite the evil that men have done that despite the world bearing the smell of man and his sinful self-inflicted pain. 

Hopkins finishes his poem this way:

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Hopkins says despite our best attempts to destroy the world we live in God’s creation is “never spent.” We have hope in two things. The first is that the God who created this world broods over it saturates it with his grace. God is watching over our world he is not distant he is close he is “bent over” not standing afar off and he ordains all things according to the counsel of his will. You are not your own and you are not alone.

Chesterton in Orthodoxy helps us from 100 years ago telling us that we were made for another world. 

 “The optimist’s pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everything in the light of the supernatural. The modern philosopher had told me again and again that I was in the right place, and I had still felt depressed even in acquiescence. But I had heard that I was in the wrong place, and my soul sang for joy, like a bird in spring.”

The second is this world is not our home and our lives are not our own. When I heard I was in the wrong place my soul sang for joy. So powerful. If you have put your faith in Christ you are in the wrong place. So much of the fear we experience comes from a fear of losing was is temporal and failing to see that our lives are eternal. The revelation that this world is not our home and our lives are not our own should produce in us contentment in this life and at the same time discontented homesickness for the next. 

Hide and Go Seek and Letting Go.

I may not be a doctor of anything but I have a theory. I have been reluctant to throw this out there but now after we have had our third kid I am fairly certain that it’s a fact. The amount of time you spend playing peek-a-boo translates into your child’s ability to be ok with you dropping them off in the care of others. Because even though they can’t see you they know that you always come back. We tell our kids we will come back but young kids deal in concrete, not abstract thought so if you can show them that you will be back by hiding your face then popping out again you demonstrate that even when you can’t see me I am nearby and you will see me soon. They can trust you.

I am not sure if this helps the parents with the letting go part when their kids get older but it may. I do however know many two-year-old teachers that would benefit from this theory of mine.

As a parent dropping my oldest off at kindergarten I think I am starting the processes of peek-a-boo where I can let my boy go and know that he will come back. It’s not easy but few things are easy when it comes to parenting. Our job is to equip, train, release. I have to prepare my kids to be everything God created them to be and not selfishly hold them back because they fill a gap in my life.

This reminds me of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ definition of faith in her Jesus Storybook Bible

Faith is knowing that God loves you and because He loves you, you can trust Him.

How God Sees Our Future.

One of the things that I find most comforting in life is know how God sees our future. We tend to limit God based on how we think he works or how we think he should work. This is why the second commandment is such a big deal. When we make a physical representation of God, we remove him from being a God that is limitless to a one-dimensional caricature. We form Him in our image by assuming that he should look and act like us. He doesn’t work that way.

Here is one of the most freeing things that I have come to understand and appreciate in my relationship with God. When I stress over what the future holds I fail to see my future in the way God does. The way that God sees our future is exactly how we see our past. That understanding transforms our trust. When we look to our past, we see a vast array of unconnected dots that somehow worked together to bring us to the job that we have the person we married and the school we attend. Steve Jobs was a self-proclaimed Buddhist but as a result of common grace he understood this. He attributed the beauty of his products to an obscure class on calligraphy he took in college.

What God’s word tells us is that every seemingly unconnected dots that have been linked sovereignly and are how God see our future. We see disconnected dots God see our beginning from our end. It is that simple understanding that help us trust him in every season of life.

You get what you do, not what you want.

To Do List

The problem you and I have in life and ministry is that we get what we do not what we want. It’s very easy to forget that in every area of life from raising your kids to building your church. I want lots of things in life. I want to write a book but no matter how much I want it if I don’t start doing it, I will never write a book.

Parents want to know what apps your kids are downloading?

appcertain

Like it or not the digital age is here to stay. As parents we are immigrants to this digital world that our kids are natives of. Despite its many benefits all the digital devices our kids are connected to require more from us as parents. So any time a tool comes along that makes monitoring what are kids are doing digitally I am for it. With the rise of Android, iPod, iPhones and tablet devices knowing what apps our kids are downloading would be nice.

Enter Appcertain

At AppCertain, they are passionate about computer security and motivated to discovering what behavior apps show. They are dedicated to helping us as parents understand and trust our family’s mobile devices by providing a window into the behavior of mobile apps. Recent advances in the business world have given companies greater insight into their employees’ mobile devices, and they believe we parents deserve a similar insight with respect to our families.