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Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Blindfold of Fear

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14 NIV

 As I make my way to the garden this morning I am thinking about the fact that walking in faith is walking through life trusting Jesus for all we do not know or understand. A trusting faith knows that some secrets are known to God alone. It occurs to me that when I walk in faith I also walk in joy.
Some people have the good fortune of going through life flying by the seat of their pants with not much concern for planning or organization. These people do not fret, they do not make lists, and they are simply content to just do what comes next. Unfortunately for me, I am driven by organization, list making, planning for what lies ahead, and getting my ducks in a row so that they can waddle in a straight line. Trusting in the unknown future is not my forte!
As I approach the garden, it is no surprise that the Master Gardner is standing at the gate and is in the process of swinging the garden gate wide open for me to enter. I think it would be an understatement to say that he is always happy to see me. We begin to walk and I notice beautiful branches of bright orange and red bittersweet providing a backdrop for a patch of beautiful yellow lilies. I begin to share with Jesus that my life is bittersweet. On a regular basis I experience ups and downs, joys and sorrows, hills and valleys. Both the good and the bad seem to salt and pepper my life. I reluctantly admit that the downs, the sorrows, and the valleys of the future are the experiences that concern me the most. I explain to Jesus that I hate blind faith; in fact it scares me to death.
Jesus then begins to teach me about faith. “Paula, you have it all wrong.” That statement comes as no surprise to me! Then he continues, “Walking in faith does not mean that you are to walk as though you are blindfolded, groping in the darkness, worried about stumbling over a rock, or tripping on a tree root, or worse yet, falling into a black hole.”
I eagerly ask, “Well Lord, what does it mean?” He replies, “Walking in faith is walking every day in the joyful light of my presence. It is steadily walking towards your goal of finishing life well and meeting me face to face in heaven. Walking by faith is setting aside all that Satan designs to trip you up. When you walk in faith you choose to press on toward the goal so that you will win the prize for which you have been called heavenward. Walking by faith is enjoying the garden and expressing gratitude for all that I have given you. Remember, even when life takes much away, I make sure that at least one thing will remain in order for you to give thanks. I promise you I will never leave your side. You must always give thanks for the obvious good and search for the hidden good as well.”
After this conversation it didn’t take much for me to realize that many times less is more. My possessions and my “good lifestyle” are simply a heap of frivolous trinkets and tokens of happiness, instead of real joy. It all is bittersweet and meaningless in the whole scheme of things, because in reality Jesus Christ is all I need and more than enough. My hope of heaven and my eternal reward is the icing on the cake. But to be perfectly honest, I enjoy all the good things in my life. What I don’t enjoy is taking care of those things. The maintenance fee for all we own is a high price to pay as it often robs us of what is pure, lovely, and lasting.
So today I want to sit a spell and dream in the garden about what my life would look like if life was not so demanding and my schedule so hectic. What would my life look like if my responsibilities were not so restraining, and if I didn’t have so much to care for? If God and I could simplify my life what would the results be? What suggestions would he have for my life? How radical would some changes be? How would all this simplicity free me up for what God says is really important?
Most of the time life just whips me along at a pace almost faster than sound! It’s a rare moment when I sit down and consider any radical change in my life. Recognizing and cutting the strings that bind me and discovering what is necessary and what is not is a challenge.
It would be unwise to clear out all of the things in our life that make us unhappy, because many times those things are necessary. For instance throwing the crying baby out with the bath water would be unwise. We have been entrusted to take care of our children no matter how hard it is or how much time it requires.  God also holds us accountable for the marital commitment we made to our spouse. Our marriages are sacred and our vows are to be honored, even if there are problems in our marriage. God also calls us to help others. Our work is both necessary and a privilege. Where we work and the amount of time we spend at work may be a matter for consideration, but basically our work is a high priority. Being a caregiver to someone is very difficult but it is also a service that is pleasing to the Lord. So what remains? What can be eliminated, scaled down, or adjusted in our life?
All premeditated change must be evaluated under the illumination of the light of Jesus. What would he have me set aside or give up? That is not to say that a simplified life will not continue to be busy but somehow because God is in control he multiplies our time for his glory and our good. Simplicity can be an enormous step in freeing us up to find, follow, and fellowship with Jesus. We must have faith that God has HIS plan for our life on his radar.

When God speaks of change in our life, all that is lacking is courage. Will MY lack of courage send me scampering under the brush in the garden like a timid mouse? Or will I call upon GOD’S courage to rise up within me enabling me to stand up and walk like a courageous lion. We must free up time for Jesus because it is during this time that our faith renewed. We remember that Jesus is the solid rock on which we stand. We learn his promises and we learn to lean on them as well. We see the faithfulness of God and we then have the courage to remain faithful. We learn to trust instead of fear.

“The Lion from the Tribe of Judah” lives within the hearts of all believers. We must climb upon his back and be courageous! We must walk in simple faith, not as one blindfolded with fear but as one who knows the One who holds our future can be trusted. Learning to trust the one who goes before us frees us up to enjoy more of the garden. Jesus will lovingly lead us to places we have never been before. This may be a major move, a simpler lifestyle, a dependency on someone else, a balanced budget, a new found quiet time, or time to actually enjoy our family. We must learn to trust God for the courage to throw out the unnecessary to make room for the necessary. Much of what we do is important but if we look closely we will see where we waste time and where we are expecting too much of ourselves. We will even learn how to say no to good things in order to make room for God's best.
I want to joyfully walk into the future. Until that day I want to walk deeper into the garden. I do not believe that it is God’s will for my life that I grope in the darkness fearing the possibility of stumbling or falling on whatever danger I perceive may be ahead. It is God’s will that I walk in the warm shining light of his love and grace as he shows me what I should sit aside and what I must embrace as I joyfully walk towards the prize.

  1. Do you relate to wearing the blindfold of fear as you walk into the unknown future?
  2. What do you fear the most about the unknown?
  3. Is what you fear really true or is your fear based on what you perceive to be true?
  4. Do you see that simplicity is a tool you can use to free up some of your time?
  5. Would spending more time with God equip you to step out in blind faith and trust God with all areas of your life?
  6. Do you know anyone who you could trust more than God with your future?
Dear Lord,
As I leave the garden today I thank you for your assurance that it is possible for me to have your courage as I walk toward all that is hidden from my eyes. Lord, I ask that you would walk with me as I press on toward the prize. Remind me often that when I walk with you in peaceful trust I am walking in faith. Until I leave this world I will continue to strive to walk with you both in the garden of my heart and in the world of responsibilities and trials. Lord I am grateful for all of my countless blessings and the special joy we share in the garden. This world is beautiful and special in so many ways. I can only imagine what it will be like to walk with you in heaven’s garden. Lord Jesus, even when life deals me an unsuspected blow I thank you for the knowledge that you will never leave me or forsake me. Lord, I confess that sometimes I do not know what to pray. Thank you that you are still near me and will remain by my side until I am able to pray again. Help me Lord to choose to loosen my grip on fear and focus on the knowledge that you are leading me to the most beautiful garden of all. I know that it will be a place of exquisite beauty and perfect peace, a place to rest and relax in your love as I lay down the cumbersome binding burdens of life. I look forward to this garden of joy because it will be a place where the song of the soul will be set free and worship will be untarnished. Until that day help me to simplify my life. Help me to learn the difference between what is necessary and what is not. Help me to release the unimportant things in my life in order to make room for all that is really important. Thank you Lord, that you have not given me a spirit of fear. Help me to choose to trust you in every circumstance I face.
It is in your name I pray. Amen.