Tuesday, February 24, 2009


In my own personal faith journey, one of my favorite revelations has been to see the presence of God in my life as a source of liberation -- in particular liberation from fear. If we trust in the fact that God is always with us and that God loves us, then there's no reason to fear what might be.

Some people sometimes abdicate responsibility for their own actions with the flawed explanation that "if God didn't want me to do it then why would God let me do it?" What they don't see is that God has empowered us to make our own decisions. We're expected to make choices in an effort to be as Good as we were created. We're also expected to make mistakes, and this is where God's presence can liberate us from fear. We are expected to make mistakes... and it is OK to make mistakes... God forgives us and will always be there to show us another path. If there weren't hope, then fear would rule. But with God, there can always be hope, and there's no need for fear. Liberating!

Some people sometimes translate God's presence into "God won't give you more than you can handle." From the outside, that sentiment sounds very empowering: with God by your side, you can do anything! From the inside, though, it can actually evoke the opposite response when you're in a position that you know you can't handle.

Nearly six years ago, my wife and I learned that our daughter would have Down Syndrome and would require open hear surgery within the first 6 months of her life. Fear. Uncertainty. Shock. Wow! I'd never experienced anything like that before in my life, and haven't since. My wife and I clung to each other for guidance and confidence and love and comfort. We clung to our families of origin. We clung to our church family and friends. And we're doing fine, I think.

When people would come up to us and tell us that they thought we were such strong, brave, wonderful people; would tell us that they know they wouldn't be able to handle the situation we're in; and that God wouldn't give us more than we could handle -- we smiled politely and said "thank you." Then when those same people walked away and left us alone we give each other one of those knowing looks. There's nothing special about us. We couldn't do this on our own. It isn't because God wouldn't give us more than we could handle. It's because God gave us a community that loves and supports us.

The lesson for me has been - when you're on the outside of a fearful or uncertain situation, platitudes aren't appropriate; you need to step up and help. I see God's hope as people.

1 comment:

Stushie said...

General Armistead, who died for the Confederate Forces at Gettysburg, once gave a Bible to his friend General Hancock (who fought for the Union Army at the same battle). Inside the front cover, Armistead wrote these words:
'Trust God and Fear Nothing.'