What God Really Promises vs What We Think He Promises

A need for control

Confession: I have a control issue.

I want to know what’s ahead. I want to follow a well-laid plan with diligence. I want to live by checklists and benchmarks.

And quite honestly, I want life to be perfect. Put simply, I want Heaven on Earth.

As I wrote these words, God brought to mind this portion of scripture from Luke 17:21 “For you see, the kingdom of God is among you.” The kingdom is here and now, He is among us. We are called to live by faith.

A life lived by faith is unable to see all the steps ahead aligned just perfectly.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

When Fear Threatens My Faith

I live by systems and organization. In predictable areas of life, this serves me well. But in areas that require true faith, I find the more my fear grows, the tighter my cling to my ideals and desires.

Fear creates overreactions. Fear speaks lies. Fear uses language such as “what if”. And fear, at the end of the day, simply leads me down a path of attempting to control outcomes.

This is pointless, useless, and exhausting.

Fear never stops attempting to drive us. We don’t have to allow fear room in our lives. But we must recognize fear when it appears.

If we knew how everything worked out, would faith be required?

See, we don’t know how our futures will unfold. But we have our faith in a sure, steady God who gives us an entire book of promises.

Are we standing on His promises? Or are we holding hands with our fear?

What God does not promise.

  • life will be easy
  • life will be pain free
  • life will be look like IG
  • life won’t be filled with setbacks and heartbreaks
  • life won’t give us more than we have the strength to handle
  • life won’t break us
  • life won’t weary us

What does God actually promise?

  • when life is not easy, He’s holding us up with His righteous right hand.
    • “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • when life is painful, He is our Comforter.
    • He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 1 Corinthians 1:4
  • when life isn’t perfect, we wait for the perfection He’s creating for us. It’s not here. It’s in eternity.
    • “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”’ Revelation 21:5
  • when life sets us back or breaks our heart, He supplies fresh mercy every day.

    • “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;
          great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
  • when life gives us more than we can handle, He gives us grace to handle it when we need it.
    • “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor. 12:19
  • when life breaks us, He heals us.
    • “But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was  bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
  • when life wears us out, He restores our souls. He carries our burdens.
    • “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3
    • “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

Listen the the right Source

Don’t listen to the enemy. He tries to tell you God’s not good. God is good always. We live in a fallen, broken world. Jesus told us we’d face many troubles. And He told us to take heart because He overcame the world. Our only job is to remain in 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


As you know, I am pretty passionate about keeping God’s Word before us. In a world filled with messages opposed to truth, it takes intention on our part to fix our eyes on Jesus. I’m adding a little at a time to my shop to offer you more ways to fill your home with truth, beauty, and goodness. On your next coffee break, take a moment to step inside and check out what we’ve been working on!

Here’s a tiny peek.

 

When I Need a Spiritual Recharge Do I Remain or Flee?

When I invite God in

I needed a spiritual recharge. I sat at my desk, opened my palms, and prayed. I confess I don’t always do this before I sit to write or work. I asked Him to fill me, direct me, flow through me. I opened my hands in surrender and postured myself to receive from Him while releasing my own tight grip.

When He reveals what’s dead

When I opened my computer, it failed to respond. I clicked harder. No response. I had literally just unplugged it from the charging station. The picture appeared on the screen with the red battery and disconnected charger. I walked upstairs to where it rested charging all night to find the cord hanging from the socket. It appeared connected, but it wasn’t fully. A dead battery resulted.

spiritual recharge

 

I brought my charger downstairs, plugged it in, and removed it immediately. I wanted to test something. Would a few second charge do any good at all? My computer fired right up. The battery showed 4%.

What’s Needed Most

And that is when God showed me a picture of how easy it is to be fooled into thinking we are relying on Him fully, when in reality we often come for a quick charge to receive just enough then off we go.

I plugged my computer into the source and allowed a full charge.

I need Him every second of every day.

Yet I strive away in my own strength, running on a weak battery, failing to see power is freely available to me.

My independent spirit is an affront to God. It’s my pride showing up in the form of self-sufficiency. It’s me receiving from Him the gifts and strengths He’s placed in me and working yet failing to stop and recharge in Him.

I want to learn to live a life that is a constant flow of Him. One in which I truly live every minute aware of Him, turning my eyes toward Him, seeking Him, thanking Him.

The busier life is lived, the greater the struggle this becomes.

The more distractions I allow, the less inclined I am to even hear Him speak.

If I stay in constant motion, I might catch a few whispers but I can guarantee I miss much of what He has to say to me. I’m too busy.

Our busy culture is a great threat to our spiritual growth and development. The danger is we often don’t realize what is happening in our own souls. Our charge is weak, but because we can function, we fail to see the great power we’ve bypassed.

The simple secret

My Thursday night small group gathered. We each take a short passage of scripture and share insights the Lord reveals to us. In John chapter 15 Jesus tells us He is the true vine and that His father is the gardener. He instructs us to remain in Him and He will remain in us and that apart from Him we can bear no fruit.

In the first 10 verses of chapter 15, Jesus says ‘remain in Me’ ‘remain in my love’ or some form of ‘remain’ 7 times. The ESV uses ‘abide in me’.

I believe Jesus wants us to understand this concept. He desires we remain in Him. Not grab a quick charge and dart away. But remain. It’s easier for me to pull away from Him than it is to tuck in tight.

Remain. Abide.

The fight is in remaining.  The temptation is to run to distraction, to busy, to entertainment, to purpose, to anything other than Jesus.

Yet, it’s clear, we are instructed to remain.

Remain is a choice. We can remain or we can flee. When we flee, parts of our soul begin to die.

Maybe it’s time to begin the practice of disconnecting from sources that suck from us and offer nothing in the form of restoration. And let’s simply remain in Him.

Maybe it’s as simple as pausing everything, getting down onto our knees, and humbly approaching God. It’s simply seeking Him and nothing else.

God, we come to you in awe of who you are. You are supreme, you are King. You are Lord. You hold the world in your hands. You knit us together. You know the number of hairs on my head. You know all. Nothing is beyond you. You are full truth, full wisdom. My joy is complete in you.


One way to help us remain

I have to keep God’s Word before me always and everywhere. In this culture and climate, it’s too easy to become distracted and off-course. To fall into the traps the enemy sets for our feet. Sometimes it’s a simple reminder, a word, a phrase, that prompts me to stop and consider Him. To let out a deep breath and exhale my cares of this world and inhale of His Spirit.

I created an Abide tea towel to remind us that apart from Him we can bear no fruit. We can try and end up running ourselves into the ground. Inside we will decay. Yet when we surrender to His love and make the choice to abide, remain, in Him, everything shifts. We blossom and produce what’s impossible on our own. Even when our physical world shakes, we remain strong in Him.

I invite you to browse my shops. Because I’m a one gal shop right now, it takes me some time to update all the platforms. Etsy is updated first, next my shop right here on the blog. Coming soon, you can find me on Amazon Handmade!

 

 

 

One blip of a moment that showed why simple traditions matter

In our first year of marriage, Steve played on a church softball team. One crisp Friday night, I sat on the bleachers cheering him on. A group of teenagers surrounded me. They were discussing Friday night plans. We had no children yet, so naturally I leaned in to spy on their conversations.

Lighthearted laughter, bantering back and forth. I smiled. I hope my teens have sweet spirits like this one day, I thought. A girl called out to one of the guys. “Hey, we are all going out to grab something to eat tonight. Want to go with us?”

“Not tonight! It’s Friday. Chicken and rice Friday. I never miss mom’s chicken and rice.”

My heart melted right into those hard as a rock metal bleachers. A teenage boy declining a Friday night out to go home to his mom’s meal. Because that is what Friday nights held in their home.

That was a turning point moment for me as a not-yet-mama.

I saw what I wanted to create in our family. I wanted a connected family. One filled with simple, yet meaningful traditions.

Start with the end in mind.

When an architect draws up a house plan, they ask their client what it is they want. The client will tell them their dream home and what they envision. They may say things like “I want to host large parties. Entertaining is important to me.” And the architect will draw up a plan that includes a design fit for their dreams and ideas.

When building begins, the builder works from the plan. The plan lays out the steps needed to reach the end goal and final result. Each step is intentionally taken to create the vision cast by the client.

In the same way, creating a family culture and establishing connected relationships involves looking down the road and deciding what is most important. Then you make a plan. Not a perfect plan. But. A plan.

With our families, we start with the end in mind too.

 

Here are a few ideas:

  • read aloud together. Start early and keep going when you think they’ve outgrown it. We are never too old to listen to stories. Some of my favorite memories are around books we’ve read together as a family. We’ve laughed and cried and celebrated.  We have a collection of memories around stories. It’s a favorite summer tradition in particular.
  • a simple weekly meal – like chicken and rice Friday. Taco Tuesdays are pretty popular. It’s simply nice to have something to all look forward to together. It’s steady and sure. Taco Tuesday arrives each week without much hurrah. Just a regular meal everyone counts on in a world that often is filled with setbacks and disappointments.
  • family dinners – sitting together to eat is important to me. Creating schedules to make that a priority is hard but worth it. For some families this is exceptionally hard. Try for at least one night a week. Or 2 or 3. Just set what works and stick to it.
  • weekly family night- Pick a night of the week for some family activity. Game night. Movie night. Go get ice cream. Again it’s that repeated activity that everyone counts on and looks forward to.
  • holiday traditions – The simpler the better. You don’t have to consult Pinterest and go over the top. Kids are typically quite pleased with less than we adults realize. It really is about the little things.
  • birthday traditions – My motto is always simple. I have a birthday banner from Zachary’s 5th birthday I saved. I hang it for everyone’s birthday. They all expect to see it when they wake up.

We have so many traditions, but they are super simple. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they are so simple, my kids wouldn’t call them a “tradition”. But to me a tradition is something we repeat together and come to expect we will continue to repeat.

My almost 16 year old son was invited to something recently. When he told me, I quickly said, “Go! You should go.” He responded, “No mom, that night is the same one as our annual tradition. It’s a tradition. I don’t want to miss it.”

And my heart did that melting thing it did some 18-19 years ago as I eavesdropped on teens I didn’t know realizing that I wanted to be a mom who created simple moments and meaningful traditions to foster connected relationships.

Traditions are a reminder of belonging. They connect us one to another.

You may remember I wrote a Christmas devotion titled Seeking Christmas. The heart of the book was to provide families with simple family traditions tied to the true meaning of Christmas. While the book is no longer in circulation, the spirit of Seeking Christmas, along with the ornaments and hide and seek activity, are alive and well.

I created Seeking Christmas to counter the materialism and consumerism of Christmas, while simultaneously creating traditions centered completely around why we even celebrate. My kids rarely remembered a material gift from year to year, but they never forgot the simple moments we built into our holiday season.

It was the experiences and activities they asked for. Not the presents.

So here it is. A 7 day Christmas ornament hide and seek activity. 1 ornament a day you hide, let your kids find it. Then you open the Bible together and read the scripture. Over 7 days you unfold a small part of the Christmas story.

It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s a tradition. It’s for the busiest of busy families. It’s made to stand alone or build upon however you choose. It’s flexible. You don’t have to start on a certain Sunday or December 1st.

You can buy the download to create your own ornaments for $1. I will also be loading some printed, ready to ship ornament sheets on the shop so stay tuned for those. I only have a few sets leftover from my recent Pop-Up shop. So grab them while they are here.

 

 

How to move from burned out to renewed energy

When the soul lacks rest

White space and quiet.

Peace and tranquility.

These are the things I crave.

Our souls are living crushed and overwhelmed by busy schedules and information streams that never sleep.

We consume. We produce. We race from here to there. We wave our busy flag with pride, while inside our soul begs for slow.

God whispers. Do we hear? He speaks. Do we recognize His voice?

God says fast

Last weekend God whispered for me to rest from the constant stream of information and the hum of social media. He extended an invitation to fast from the noise of the world and come back to Him in the quiet. I responded with a quick yes. My soul is not meant to carry the weight of all information it receives via the internet.

When I take these fasts, I enter burned out and tired. I leave renewed and energized. I often wonder why I wait so long.

Running from fear and exhaustion

There’s a fascinating story in the Bible. 1 King 19. Elijah flees. He’s burned out. He’s scared.

He laid down and told God he’d had enough and wanted to die.

God answered by sending an angel to provide food and water. Elijah took it then lay down again and slept. Again the angel returned. He told Elijah the journey ahead was too much for him and gave him more food and water. Elijah received the strength he needed and continued 40 days on his journey. Then he came to a cave.

I relate much to Elijah through this story. At times I feel so on fire for the Lord and give and give and pour and pour. Then in exhaustion and fear, I want to run away.

I get burned out. Burned out in my callings, my ministries, my passions. I get burned out in my simple day to day, ordinary life too.

Where do we find our retreat?

I crave the cave.

All I want is to retreat to the safety of my cave.

The Lord came to Elijah and asked him a question. You know, God always knows the answer. God knows the truth and at times will ask us so we are forced to face the truth we are ignoring.

In verse 9 God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

I love the intimacy God uses when He speaks. The sound of our own name can be a beautiful thing.

Verse 10 ‘He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord instructed Elijah to leave the cave and stand on the mountain. He tells Elijah the Lord is about to pass by.

God meets us in our hiding place

God wanted to pull him out of his dark hiding place.

God pulls us out of our darkness as well. He wants us to hear Him speaking.

I noticed something I never noticed before as I read this passage. Watch this.

’11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’

I always envisioned this story with Elijah coming out of the cave first. But he didn’t. He waited until he recognized the voice of the Lord.

God speaks

God used the ordinary over the miraculous to speak. He does the same today. He can speak however and whenever He chooses. But do we hear Him?

Elijah recognized that gentle whisper and stepped out of his dark cave.

And when I retreat from the world and tuck into my personal cave, the Lord meets me too. He invites me out.

When Elijah recognized God’s whisper, God spoke. He asked the exact question He asked Elijah the first time.

‘Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”‘

Elijah answered the EXACT same way. So God asked the same question. Elijah gave the same answer.

Did you see that??? This struck me.

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

At this point, God gave Elijah specific instructions to go back the way he came. God told Elijah what to do and how to do it.

Fear fades. Strength returns.

Elijah left renewed. He followed God’s instructions.

He went from fearful and burned out, to renewed and strengthened. Not by the cave, but by an encounter with God.

What I need is more of God. What I need is Him alone. What I need is to recognize His voice and listen to His words.

I need less world, more Word.

Less world.

More Word.

When I break away from whatever is weighing down my soul, I receive refreshment from God. Often, He responds for me to go back the way I came, but He gives me Himself so I can take the journey back.

You know what I think? I think if we spent more time focused on the character and heart of God, we’d experience less fear, less anxiety, less worry, less burn out. Because in light of the awesomeness of who He is, all else shrinks.

What we focus on grows.

When I focus on my problems, they grow bigger. When I focus on my anxious heart, the anxiety triples in size. When I focus on my fear, I’m consumed by the darkness it lives in.

But when I focus on who God is, my heart rate slows. My breathing evens. My shoulders relax. I can be still because I remember just who He is.

Maybe you

  • are in need of a renewal of strength and energy.
  • are burned out craving a cave to hide in.
  • are trying to outrun your fear that won’t give up the chase.
  • feel you can’t hear God speak anymore.
  • are looking to hit a restart button.
  • just need to be renewed.

I have something I think will help. Let me be clear. God alone is all you need. His Word.

But sometimes we find we need something to nudge us a bit, remind us, or help us reconnect.

ebook devotional

If that sounds like you, I invite you to grab a copy of Illuminate. Illuminate is a 14 day devotion that will be a soothing balm to your soul. It is gentle and kind and will redirect your focus from your fear and worry onto your Creator. It will help you to remember how to maintain your focus on Jesus.

Illuminate is a mixture of devotions centered on the character of God and scripture readings and meditations. It’s available as either an audio devotional with pdf transcripts that arrives in your inbox once per day over a 14 day period. Or as an ebook download you can receive all at once. Your choice. One price. Yours forever.

I find myself going back to it at various seasons when I feel my distraction level and stress levels rising. It calms and quiets my soul. And I hope it will do the same for you.

It’s available on sale for 50% right now too! Grab a copy for yourself and a few friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I say goodbye to a dream

6 years ago this very month, Seeking Christmas arrived on bookshelves. It was a dream I’d worked on for years. Roadblock after roadblock seemed to meet me along the journey. Eventually, I received the letter from the publisher that my proposal was accepted and they’d like to offer me a publishing contract.

Here’s what I asked my blog readers in August 2013:

Do you……

  • Find your anxiety level rising as Christmas approaches
  • Feel the commercialization overshadows what really matters
  • Wish you could simplify Christmas
  • Feel the hectic pace and busyness makes advent devotions impossible
  • Desire to capture the true magic
  • Long to create memories & traditions with depth & meaning
  • Wish there was a devotion for today’s busy family
  • Want more than just a devotion
  • Want an experience
  • Want to address all of the above AND complete half of your gift list

For 6 years I’ve prayed for Seeking Christmas to catch fire. Sadly, it never lived the life I dreamed it would.

Does that mean it was a failure?

I suppose that depends on how you choose to view the entire experience.

I hired a consultant while I developed Seeking Christmas. From the very beginning, he told me my path was never about the book. Honestly, I didn’t get it at all. In my mind, it was all about the book. I was deeply passionate about the family, traditions, and memory making. Of course, it was about the book.

He tried to help me see beyond this one project, that I had more to offer than a Christmas experience book.

I thought a publishing deal was the end. I thought it would release and the rest was history. I thought it would be the christian Elf on the Shelf.


I quickly realized ALL the marketing rested on my shoulders.

To that point I refused to buy into the “build a platform” idea. I said I’d NEVER speak publicly. God began to show me if I wanted to share this with the world, I needed to do the actual work of sharing.

I began speaking at women’s gatherings. It was one of my greatest fears. Turns out I fell in love with speaking and something I was terrified of turned into something that brought me incredible joy. Connecting face to face with women ignited something else in me.

This step led to the preparation for me to lead women’s ministry at my church. Again, I needed time face to face with these women to hear their struggles and understand their hearts.

Because of Seeking Christmas, I began to consistently write on my blog in very intentional ways. My writing skills developed right before the eyes of my readers. You’ve watched me grow through all kinds of seasons.

All along, the sales of Seeking Christmas were pitifully low.

I’ll be totally honest, part of me wishes I’d never published it. All the writing conferences I’ve attended, they stress the importance of a first success. If you release a flop of a book, you are toast for future books.

But then I look at all God did in me and this ministry, and I see that without stepping out to publish Seeking Christmas, nothing else would have followed. Seeking Christmas drove me to develop in areas I wouldn’t have on my own.

Mainly, Seeking Christmas taught me to say no to fear. It taught me to trust God when I can’t see “success” in the way I’ve always viewed it. It taught me that success occurs in the process rather than the end result. It taught me to release my fear of failure and accept that failure might actually be the success I needed most.

Over the summer my copyright attorney called to ask about updating some filings. I let him know I planned to simply let Seeking Christmas go. I would not continue to pay the publisher to keep it in the distribution system. I was done.

I’ve not fully processed my feelings over it yet.

The prideful part of me feels embarrassed. I look back and see how naive I was. Driven by passion and desire, full of hope that it would bring a gift to families I deeply desired they experience.

The cynical part of me wonders why I spend so much time trying to help people solve their problems or share my discoveries. Do people even care?

Then I look around at this loud online world and wonder why I’m even still here on this blog space.

Then I hear God’s whisper. He gently reminds me to show up for the ones who are looking for help, encouragement, or a dose of inspiration.

So today I officially say goodbye to a once held dream for Seeking Christmas. It’s no longer available on Amazon or online book retailers. I have in my inventory 15 copies you can buy from my store here.

Just for fun, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

My family has cheered me on through every passion, idea, & project. They’ve encouraged me to follow my dreams and never quit. Today, is hard because it feels like a quit. But I think at times, we have to quit something to prepare for another.

Here’s a little trailer my family made with me 🙂

 

Seeking Christmas from Ernie D.–Clear Impact Prod. on Vimeo.

I say goodbye to the dream I held in my heart for Seeking Christmas today, but I look forward to what God has next, which I never would have stepped into without walking the road with this book for the last 6 years.

But you know what I will still have that I hope families will use? The ornament download. I’ll be updating my shop to offer the ornaments with a family activity. I hope the heart of Seeking Christmas will live on even if the book isn’t around. And now that I think of it, maybe this is the very best way. Maybe all along what I want most is families to get into the actual Bible together. Maybe this will simplify that for them in a hectic, materialistic season.

Hey, I appreciate you. You are the absolute best readership I could ever ask for. Sometimes I can’t believe you are still here with all that is available online to read. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is not to make my kid’s struggle easier.

My job is to lean in and point them to the cross.

The struggle is real.

Life is a struggle. If we as parents continue to step in and right their world and make everything fair and perfect, what a disservice we offer them in the long run. Because ultimately we are creating a false sense of reality for them.

In my fierce attempts to protect my child from failure, mistakes, unfairness, and hardship, I elbow Christ right out of the way. I step in and say to the One who wants to be my child’s Comforter, Defender, and Rescuer, “I’ve got this. I’ll smooth this path for him and make it all better.”

Sadly, Christ is left out. Our kids aren’t pointed to the cross. Rather, they begin to see the world as a place that is supposed to be fair and good to them. In reality, this world is fallen and broken. In God’s mercy and love, He sent His son to make it all right. And on this earth, we won’t experience perfection and goodness in all situations. This is when we turn toward Him in faith and say, “I trust in You. You love me. You care for me. One day I will stand with you in eternity and see the world as it should be.”

I had a friend tell me stories of parents calling him when their adult children didn’t get the job. They wanted to know why their child wasn’t chosen. Parents calling the coach and demanding their kid be placed on a team they simply weren’t cut out for. Parents racing to school after the child left homework at home. AGAIN.

It is ok for our kids to struggle. It’s ok for them to fail so they can learn. If we consistently rescue them, how will they ever grow strong?

It’s hard to watch our kids struggle. But if we don’t let them now, while we can talk them through it, they will not be prepared when it really matters.

7 years ago I wrote a post about the importance of struggle. I shared a story in which I struggled to allow my child to struggle. 7 years later, I believe in this more than I realized I would. Click through to read that post with me. The Struggle with Struggle.

 

Which are you trusting more? Your faith or your fear?

 

The pier seemed to stretch to the middle of Lake Michigan. It was a clear divide. One side still as a summer night. One side as rambunctious as a toddler thrown down in full declaration of his will.

As I stood at the start of the pier, the end seemed completely out of reach. To reach the end, I’d have to face the strength of the wind to my right and the force of the waves as they pounded the walkway. Rather than a peaceful pier stroll, for me, it was a walk filled with the taunts and distractions of fear. The wind roared in my ears. My heart drummed so loudly I was certain it could be heard over the crashing waves.

“Why haven’t they closed this pier?” I wondered. It seemed far too dangerous. No guard rails held up their protective embrace.

My family felt none of the emotions I struggled through. They laughed and played all the way to the clear end. I, on the other hand, baby-stepped my way plank by terrifying plank.

“What if the wind sent Andrew in the water?”

“What if the brothers are goofing off and someone accidentally falls in?”

“What if they don’t see how slippery the pier is and end up fighting the lake that behaves like a sea.”

I never made it to the end of the pier. Fear kept me barely past the start, never progressing. Fear won.

Later I looked at the picture and videos I captured of that scene. If I turned to the left, the water was calm, still, and peaceful. If I turned to the right, the wind slapped water across my legs as it landed on the pier in repeat.

A clear divide separated peace and chaos.

On the side of peace, all lay still. The water glistened. Facing the side of peace, the wind was behind you, so the sound much less threatening. A turn in the opposite direction, the noise intensified, the danger warned to stay back.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Faith and fear don’t mix. When we choose faith, we silence fear. When we choose fear, we silence faith.

It’s a trust issue. Do we trust faith or fear? One way or the other, we are making a choice. Intentionally or not, it’s a choice. Whose hand will I reach for to hold me steady? Will I reach toward my faith even though I’m scared to death? Or will I reach toward my fear with trembling arms?

See, either way I may be scared at the start.

It’s all about focus. If I am fixed on Him, I experience His calm, soothing voice. If I’m fixed on my fears, all I hear are the threats of what-ifs.

On the last leg of our family road trip, we each shared favorite moments. The pier walk did not earn a spot on my favorites list because it was clouded with fear. But you know what? It did earn a spot on the list of everyone in my family who silenced fear and enjoyed the stroll.

If I live my life with the voice of fear constantly allowed to speak, I will remain stuck and never arrive at the end of the pier and experience the beauty waiting. I’ll stand at the beginning and watch everyone else lean towards faith as they experience the joy of watching fear fade into the shadow of lies from which it dawned.