Barn swallow nest on the front porch at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

What if

Do you ever get scared? It doesn’t have to even be about something scary–just scared in general. Of the unknown? Of trusting someone with something valuable to you? Of making the wrong decision?

I wish I could say I didn’t. I wish I could say I fearlessly charge into life without a thought about what could go wrong, but that’s not true. I’m just really talented at living in denial. I can convince myself that everything is fine, and I push forward, even though I know it really isn’t. Now maybe that’s good on some counts. Maybe it’s bad on others. And maybe some fear is justified. Regardless, fear is something we all deal with, irrational or not.

To a certain extent, fear is good for us. If we’re never afraid, we never have to embrace real courage. And if we never have to embrace real courage, we never grow. But I really believe the majority of the fears we face are things that we shouldn’t waste time or effort fearing.

Barn swallow nest on the front porch at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Barn swallow nest on the front porch at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalms 118:6.

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?

Wouldn’t you agree that the things frightening you the most in life start with “What if?” What if I lose someone I love? What if I lose my job? What if my friends don’t like me anymore? What if people get the wrong idea about me? What if–what if–what if!

I can “what-if” myself to death. I can fabricate terrifying circumstances out of nothing. I can work myself into a frenzy about a single statement from someone I barely know and can, in mere moments, have myself convinced that he/she despises me–when they really haven’t even paid any attention to me at all.

I can think of the worst-case scenario and multiply it by a factor of impossible. I can run myself into the ground planning and preparing for the apocalypse and still lose sleep at night because there’s bound to be something I forgot.

Anyone hear me? Anybody else get this? Surely I’m not the only one.

Yes, planning for the future is wise, but you can’t let your plans rule your life. You can’t let your assumptions about the unknown determine the decisions you’re going to make. Yes, be ready, but don’t live your life in fear of what if.

Make the decisions you need to make. Do the best you can with the information you have. Be diligent about the details; don’t slack off out of laziness. Do your best. And let it go.

God has it. You get that, right? I’m talking to myself here. God has this. He’s got everything under control, and nothing is going to happen that will catch Him off guard. Those people who have appeared in your life? The ones who mean so much to you, the ones you trust? God brought them along to help you.

Stop worrying. Stop being afraid. Stop letting fear make your decisions for you. Stand up to it. When fear starts whispering lies in your head, shut it out. Even better, shut it down. Fight fear with faith. If your faith is grounded in Christ, fear has no power over you. The only power fear has in the life of a Christian is the power we give it. So decide now that fear won’t gain an inch of ground in the battle of your life.

God doesn’t work through fear. Fear isn’t a very effective motivational tool. God works through love, and that’s a lot more powerful than fear any day.

That thing you’re scared of? Give it over. And if you have to let it go for good, remember that this story isn’t about you. The more you give up your life, the more life you’ll have.

Sunset over a field - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Atlas

There are times in my life when I feel like I am shouldering a burden far too heavy for me to carry. I’m a pretty strong person, but some things in life are too big for me to lift. And after more than four months of lifting and tugging and pulling and dragging, the weight I’ve been carrying around (even though I know I’m not supposed to be carrying it) is finally starting to wear me down.

I spent much of last week feeling somewhat like Atlas. Atlas was a figure out of Greek mythology whose punishment was to hold up the heavens. I can only imagine how heavy that would have been. I’m sure it makes my paltry problems look like feathers in comparison, but Atlas is a mythological figure and I’m pretty real … at least, I was the last time I checked.

And I know I’m not supposed to carry things on my own. I know I’m not supposed to worry. I know I’m not supposed to try to do all this on my own. I know that. But I’m human enough to try it anyway.

Sunset over a field - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunset over a field - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Habakkuk 2:20.

But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.

I love Habakkuk. It’s an amazing book, and it’s fun to say besides. I had never paid much attention to it until my freshman year of college when I was far away from home and feeling very alone and isolated. I was at a “Christian” college, and one sermon preached at chapel was on Habakkuk. And it got me thinking, especially about this last verse. Because most of Habakkukis about how wrong the world is. How unjust, how unfair, how ugly–and why God isn’t doing anything about it.

So where does verse 20 come in? Because it’s basically the equivalent of saying that God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world. How can anyone say that? Because there’s nothing right with the world.

People hurt each other. They lie to each other. They disappoint each other. They try to control each other, and when they fail they resort to backstabbing.

We turn our backs on people who need help. We bury ourselves in our comfort zones and ignore the warning signs that trouble is coming, and then we blame everyone around us when the floor falls out from under us.

Our world calls good evil and evil good. And even in our Christian culture we revere people instead of God. We follow men. We follow religions. We follow churches. And we forget what really matters. We forget what’s really real.

We’re all broken. And not many of us really seem to care.

So what does Habakkuk 2:20 mean?

Whatever else is going on in our screwed-up world, one thing is certain: God is still here. He hasn’t left us. He hasn’t abandoned us. He’s still hanging around, even though we’ve given Him every reason to walk away. He promised He wouldn’t leave us. And He hasn’t.

If you doubt it, look for Him. He’s easier to find than you might think.

And if God is still around, that means we still have some hope. Because that means He still knows what He’s doing. He still knows what’s coming. And He still knows how to make everything work out.

And that’s why this verse is so important. Because it means that no matter how bad things get, no matter how hurt you are, no matter how disappointed you may be or how discouraged or how depressed, God is still here. And that means, the world can just shut up. Because nothing they say can change that.

The world is broken. It’s falling apart at the seams.

But God is in His temple. The earth is silent before Him. Because there’s no problem too big for Him. There’s no disaster too catastrophic for Him. And there’s no person too lost for Him.

And that means I need to stop trying to carry it all on my own. I can’t change anything by worrying over it. All I can do is talk to God about it and trust that He knows what He’s doing.

And even though nothing may be right in the world, God is still there. And that’s enough for me.