fear

What Are You Doing???

“What are you doing here?”  This was the question asked by the angel of God to Elijah, as he hid in a cave, gripped with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  Seems to me that maybe some of us might relate to Elijah, given the recent collection of corona virus (COVID-19) events: shut downs, alarming news, hoarding, toilet paper shortages, contagion and empty shelves at grocery stores.  When we add on the government telling us to keep social distance from anyone, stay home as much as possible and pay attention to your temperature, life can feel a bit apocalyptic.  So maybe we want to hunker down in our home caves and do the Elijah technique, escaping the panic that pervades our society.

To be fair, Elijah’s life was being threatened by the Queen of Israel and she was definitely a formidable and scary person.  So I recognize that I’m not comparing the same stimulating factors for the run and hide behaviors.  Nevertheless, I’m sincerely convinced that we can apply some fantastic and profound takeaways from Elijah’s experience, in 1Kings 19.

In this chapter, while Elijah hid in a cave, he observed lots of tumultuous events outside of his cave: a wind so strong that it broke apart rocks, an earthquake and a fire.  In verses 11-12, it says that God wasn’t in the wind, God wasn’t in the earthquake and God wasn’t in the fire.  But when Elijah heard a small whisper, a gentle blowing, he came to the entrance of the cave to listen to God, Whose first question was, “What are you doing here?”.

Maybe God would ask us the same question in this season, when the world around us seems to be upended and foundations unraveled.

What are we doing?

I’m absolutely a proponent for prudent and wise choices in this turbulent season.  However, I’m not a proponent of panic, fear, anxiety, worry nor apprehension.  Maybe you don’t like the panic or anxiety normal response to this COVID-19 crisis either.  So what can we do, in this unusual time?

First, let’s recognize that we have a unique opportunity given to us, that has never happened to this magnitude in human history.  We get to choose our actions, what we focus on, our attitudes and perceptions.  If we allow the media and gossip around us to be our focal point, then we could be letting our lives overflow with panic, fear, stress and worry.

Second, if we find ourselves “stuck at home” because of a quarantine or government edict to shelter in place, we will likely have some extra time on our hands.  If you’re like me, in the not so distant past, I was bemoaning my lack of time and the hectic pace of my life.  So now that we have more time, what will we do with it?  Let’s be purposeful about this gift of extra time and use it constructively rather than letting the media amplify whatever fears or anxieties we might lean into by not regulating our focus. Here are a few suggestions:

  • do some Spring cleaning, house / apartment projects,
  • read a book that you’ve been wanting to read,
  • do some family games / interactions to take advantage of the extra time together
  • go through your clothes and donate what you don’t wear / what doesn’t fit
  • text your friends and elderly people you know to stay in touch
  • be creative:  write, paint, cook, organize, dance to some fun music 🙂

Finally and most importantly, this crisis affords us an opportunity to snuggle into God, to deepen our intimacy, connection, awareness and strength.  When Elijah heard a gentle whisper, not being distracted by the noisy earthquake, wind or fire (alarming news or corona crisis), he grew in his awareness and recognition of God’s presence, voice and the future that God had for him.  Let’s allow this season to be a richly intimate time and deepen our connection with God!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Virus Alert!!

It seems to me that much of the world has been taken by storm with the Corona virus.  I say this because of the mass quarantines in several countries, travel restrictions, stock market impact, event cancellations, grocery store raids and the general chit chat on the street with total strangers.  We are wearing masks, buying unfathomable quantities of toilet paper (even though it’s not a digestion virus), scouring our hands and maybe adjusting our work location, as I think about the personal impact this virus is making on our daily living.

To be fair, Corona is highly contagious and way more concerning for older people with health issues than younger people who are healthy with strong immune systems.  So there’s definitely some wisdom in paying attention to our health and being prudent about our interactions.

At the same time, I would suggest that there’s a more lethal virus than Corona spreading throughout the world at lightning speed.  This virus is even more contagious and changes our actions, conversations, attitudes and outlooks.  Furthermore, every human is susceptible to this virus no matter the precautions we take by drinking extra water, avoiding human contact, beefing up our vitamin C intake and regardless of where we live or the access to modern medicine.

This is the fear virus and left unchecked, without observation or awareness, fear can leave us debilitated, lifeless and constrict our lives to hermit existence.  Fear can also distort our perceptions and warp our decisions such that we don’t live out our divine blueprint.

One of the best biblical examples of the mutating and minimizing power of fear can be seen in the life of Saul, the king of Israel that preceded David.  After Saul was anointed by Samuel to be king in 1 Samuel 9, Saul had some initial successes as Israel’s king.  However, in a short time Saul let fear constrict his leadership in ways that prevented him from leading Israel to defeat the Philistines on several occasions, caused him to lie to Samuel and Saul attempted to kill David many times.  When I look at the entirety of Saul’s life and his tragic conclusion, I see a man increasingly controlled by fear which grew to infect every part of his life including his family, leadership and his relationship with God.  Saul died in battle against the Philistines in contrast to Samuel’s initial anointing on Saul to be king and defeat the Philistines.

I would suggest that fear can work in our lives in very insidious ways. When we let insecurity be a deciding factor with decisions, be certain that the fear virus is active in your life.  When we over-achieve to make up for weaknesses or shortfalls, maybe fear has infected our perceptions.  When we refrain from engaging with people (and not just from being more introverted or being super busy), it’s possible that fear is influencing our social interactions.

There are lots of ways that the fear virus infects our decisions, interactions and outlooks.  We can be afraid of failing, getting hurt, making a mistake or poor decision, being rejected and heaps more.  So it’s important to pause, from time to time, and ask Holy Spirit to help us take a fear inventory in our lives, looking at possible decisions that are fear based as well as perceptions that could be fear infected.  Let’s never forget that perfect love casts out fear!  So wherever we sense fear in our lives, let’s nestle into God, Who is perfect love and let God’s love immunize us yet again from the fear virus.

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, fellowship, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, spiritual, thought life, travel, uncertainty, values, watch, 0 comments

More Doubt than Faith

“Who ME???”  I think Gideon said this several times in Judges 6-9, in the Old Testament.  I like Gideon alot because he’s relatable.  His dialogue with God and various people around him reveal that he wasn’t a faith giant – anything but!!!  Replying to God’s directives, Gideon put out fleeces, questioned God’s participation with Israel, snuck around at night to obey God & eavesdropped at the enemy’s tent to hear of Gideon’s impending victory.

Gideon wasn’t the poster child for supernatural faith and courage in the face of impossibility.  But he is the posterchild for all of us who have doubts, fears, frailties and deficiencies.  No matter how your faith feels at this moment, robust of ragged, God can do the impossible!  More importantly, God isn’t repelled by your questions, doubts nor fears.  Be encouraged in your heart, no matter how much fear or faith you may feel at any given moment.  We can remain encouraged because God loves us and that love is never dependent on our faith, fear nor frailty!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Flounder or Focus

When things seem uncertain or murky, this can be very disturbing.  And if you’re like me, when I get unsettled, I can start to flounder and I find myself trying to find stability, certainty and comfort.  My focus can get really jumpy and I struggle to be settled in my soul.

So it helps me to remember to keep my focus on Jesus.  Indeed, there’s a great song by Darlene Zschech called, Jesus At the Center and listening to this helps me to keep Jesus as my central focus.  We don’t have to know all the answers, be all-sufficient, have a perfect plan or fix everything.  Jesus rightfully owns that space, so that we can keep our focus & worship centered on Him!

I like what Jehoshaphat says in 2Chron 20:12, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You!”

Let’s stay focused on Jesus instead of any worry, anxiety or uncertainty!

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, seeing Jesus, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Nail Biting

“Jehoshaphat was afraid & turned his attention to see the Lord & proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”  2Chron 20:3

Being afraid is a universal experience to every human & maybe there are times when we have more or less fear.  But fear is not a rare emotion in our human living.  What we do with fear is more important, in my opinion, than the actual fear.  So when I read about Jehoshaphat being afraid & turning his attention to the Lord, it gives me some good input on what to do with fear.  I’m thinking also that this could be helpful for you too!

Rather than biting your nails, fretting, getting jittery, nervous eating, etc, when we have times or experiences with fear, let’s be certain that our default instinct is to turn our attention to God, remembering that nothing causes God to “bite His nails.”

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Posted by Sarah in busy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Do It Scared

There are lots of things that intimidate me such as: traveling to unstable places, mingling in a crowd of strangers, having difficult conversations & being around people whom I perceive as superior to me. While it’s good to acknowledge these places where I feel intimidated, it’s better to work through them rather than avoid them. In the past, the way I’d handle this intimidating stuff is to avoid these kinds of situations & distract myself with things I like better.
But growing means that I make active decisions to face the intimidating stuff & choose to grow. Sometimes, this means that even though I may be scared, I still push through the fear & intimidation – do it scared.
Feel free to join me on this adventure – not allowing your growth to be limited by your fears 🙂

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Posted by Sarah in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, Jesus Chix, listen, living, missions, nightcare, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, thought life, values, watch, 3 comments

Fear or Unfamiliar?

Do things that you’re unfamiliar with make you scared? I don’t think this is an uncommon experience for most people. On the other side, I think that we should sometimes be scared of the familiar or at least uncomfortable. I say this for lots of reasons. Being familiar & comfortable can:

  • create an illusion of safety & stability
  • lull us into taking stuff for granted
  • tempt us to rely on our own wisdom rather than trusting God

Let’s be careful that staying familiar keeps us from following God, growing & looking forward!

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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, living, prayer, relationships, saving moses, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments

Harp & Sheep

Goliath was scary, to be sure. More than tall, he had armor, weapons & enough confidence for his entire army. No Israelite wanted to fight him & die, or be the reason that Israel would become servants to the Philistines. Enter David, the harp-player & sheep-tender. Of all the valiant warriors with Saul, no one stepped up to defy Goliath, except this upstart teenager whose confidence was grounded firmly in Jehovah, the God of Israel.

The same rings true for us today. There’s always giants, intimidation, opposition & scary reasons to run, hide & blend in with everyone else. Let’s be David & stand on God’s side rather than align with fear, what’s popular & paralyzed insecurity. Never forget:

  • perfect love casts out fear
  • greater is He who is in you than any Goliath, roaring lion or lying devil!
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Posted by sarahbowling in busy, enemies to intimacy, family, Genuine love, grow, Heavenly Help, Holy Spirit, listen, prayer, relationships, spiritual, travel, values, watch, 0 comments