Several years ago we all thought it was cool to wear stuff that said “No Fear”. (I know, I know, I’m getting old…) As if screaming our claim to courage made it more real. The truth is we were all full of fear. Afraid to fail, afraid to fall, afraid to be shunned or ignored or forgotten…
I was reading Psalm 23 today and noticed something I’ve never noticed before. (I kind of feel dumb that I didn’t see it there one of the hundreds of times I’ve heard this verse before.) Maybe it’s the way the verses are broken up by numbers, or the way the verse is usually reserved for funerals and memorials, but for whatever reason I never noticed this before: (now forget about verse numbers & funerals for a second and read this)
“He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…”
I’ve kind of always known this (counter to what some people think of their Christian religion), but I’ve never noticed it in this Psalm before – if I follow God, He may lead me to and through dark places. Sometimes church people live as if God is always making them “lie down in green pastures” next to still waters. But don’t ever forget that the path of righteousness leads us on a rescue mission right through the middle of the valley of the shadow of death! (Picture Frodo & Sam approaching Mordor.)
:: Real Courage isn’t wearing a No Fear t-shirt as you soar over a fun box; it’s following your creator into the depths of your “Mordor” knowing that He’s there with You.
:: If your life is all about still waters and green pastures, you may need to stop grazing and figure out where the Shepherd went.
This is one of the kids I stayed with last year in Venezuela. His smile was about the only thing I could understand sometimes, but he was a great kid to be around. He’s got a tough road ahead of him. I pray God will put someone in his life to show him the way to be the man God is calling him to be.
“Hey guys, have you ever tried this!” – oh the memories…
The church always talks about faith, but I think a lot of well intentioned people have missed the point. There’s a huge difference between what most poeple call living ‘by faith’ and what they do to ‘keep the faith’. It’s the often the difference between following Jesus and following the rules.
Jesus came to establish a new covenant between God and people that would bring the dead to life, but 2000 years later, the church (or at least what is called the church) too often seems more interested in maintaining its’ own existence than in bringing spiritual life to the sick, dying, and dead. We’ve become more concerned with ‘keeping the faith’ than proclaiming the Gospel.
But religious dedication to a system of services and rites is not what faith is all about. Faith is about listenning for the heartbeat of God and dancing to His rhythm. Faith is about following Jesus through the fires of life, even if you’re not sure you’ll come out on the other side. Faith is about being His Body, working to show people His Kingdom.
God, I hope the people called Christians will become a tribe of followers who step in faith where You lead – even if it is where others have never stepped.
I hope this works…. I hope I don’t get dumped… I hope we win… I hope someone actually reads this…
We hope for a lot of different things at different times in life. Often, our fears drive our hopes. We hope that what we fear is going to happen is somehow stopped from happening. But what if we lived that backwards? What if we lived our lives with a hope based in something other than fear? What if our hearts beat with such hope that all fear was driven out of our lives?
I think we can.
The Bible is full of talk about hope and examples of people who lived with it… and without it. Go to www.biblegateway.com sometime and do a keyword search for “hope”. God has a lot to say about hope because He is the one thing that we can always put our hope in. We can trust Him. That doesn’t mean he’s going to make life easy for us. It means that He will keep every promise He’s ever made… including the gift of life.