There are moments when God clearly speaks to your heart. Not audibly or from burning bush or anything, but gently and quietly and straight to your heart.
Today was one of those days.
You see, I have been plagued with fear. Shocker right! If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you know fear and I go way back.
But this fear hasn’t been like the others. This fear doesn’t have anything to do with me not feeling adequate or capable or strong enough. No, this fear has been more insidious. Its tentacles wrapping around every good and gracious gift God has been giving me. This fear has been sinister in its taunts. Relentless in its pursuit.
This fear also plays dirty. Throwing past mistakes in my face. Manipulating and parading past struggles toward my present; making me feel trapped, and destined to repeat the same patterns.
This fear likes to ride the coattails of pride while it mocks, “You better not enjoy this ride too much or you’re going to get prideful!” Then it jabs with a right hook, “You know your heart. You know your past struggles. You don’t stand a chance!”
Ouch. Fear is a such a bully!
For the truth is pride is something I have struggled with for years. Although it didn’t always announce itself as pride (but really what sin does? What sin stands up and says, “hello, my name is sin!”) Sometimes it will show up as feelings of unworthiness, other times it sneaks in as self-sufficiency. Still other times it enters through the door of ambivalence. And then of course there are the times that it just struts through the front door as the ugly ol’ pride that it is.
And so I have been hypersensitive to my pride-o-meter as of late. Praying diligently for help in kicking pride—in all of its many forms—to the curb. Asking God to guard my heart. To convict me quickly. And to show me some kind of antidote to pride.
And He’s been quiet for weeks.
“Surely you want me to figure this out Lord!” I would often mutter.
And so I would pray some more. And I would read verses and write verses and memorize verses about fear and humility and surrender and remembering the Lord.
I even reached out to our pastor and sought his counsel.
And yet something was still missing. My joy had been hampered. And my spirit has been restless.
Recently, my husband saw me skimming over an early review of JOEY . It was positive and precious and normally would have made me weep tears of joy. But I just skimmed it.
“Sweetheart, that’s incredible,” he beamed, reading the review over my shoulder. “That must feel so good,” he added.
But then he looked at my face, “Wait, what’s wrong?”
The tears fell before the words came, “I….I’m afraid to read them. What if…Maybe I shouldn’t. I don’t want to become….”
“Hey,” he said getting me to look at him, “don’t let your fear steal your joy.”
We talked, I cried (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately!), and then he left. But his words remained. Swirling around my heart. Shining light into the depths of my soul.
And then today while spending time in prayer for the people on my launch team (something I felt God prompt me to do this morning), I started really praying for each one, by name. I prayed that they would feel loved by God and by me.
As I was praying I began to feel convicted. But is wan’t a taunting conviction like I am used to from the enemy. This was a soft, gentle, leading away from one thing and towards another. Like a parent pulling their child away from the edge of a cliff and into their arms.
Love. I felt the word settle into my heart.
Love my people. The words echoed through my mind.
The sweet conviction hit its mark. I need to love people better. I need to see people not as distractions, interruptions or potential connections. But as people. Beloved by God. Made in his image. And worthy just because they are.
And so I prayed. A lot. Asking God to forgive my ambivalence and to help me love his people just like he would—like he does.
And then as I prayed and pondered, I again felt a stirring in my heart. And like bubbles floating to the surface came a phrase: Love covers a multitude of sins.
“Wait! I know that verse!” I exclaimed rousing my dog from her nap. “Where is that verse?”
A quick google search revealed its location in 1 Peter 4:8.
A laugh escaped my throat. Not a haha laugh but a God-induced laugh of sheer joy.
For there, right beside me on the table was my Bible, already lying open to, of all places, 1 Peter chapter 4. I have been studying that passage in my weekly Bible study. I have read that verse countless times and yet today…today at my table with my sleepyhead dog beside me, it jumped off the page as if seeing it for the first time.
Love covers a multitude of sins.
That means love covers fear.
It means that love covers pride!
All of a sudden my vision cleared and I could see the truth:
Love is the antidote I’ve been seeking!!
But our all-knowing God, who knows I’m a little slow at times, again whispered through the pages of His Word:
Love my people Jen and pride will flee.
Love my people Jen and your fear will vanish.
Commit to loving my people from the stage and from the page and you will be free to enjoy the gifts I am giving you.
Don’t let your fear—especially your fear of sin—steal your joy. Don’t allow it to enslave you. You are free. Live free. Love free. Speak free. Be free.
And with those beautiful, powerful words I felt the chains that have gripped my heart for months finally break free. And I smiled. Then I laughed. And then I read every word people have written about JOEY and I gave God praise and I smiled more. And I delighted in my good, good Father who, for some reason only He can understand, delights in giving his undeserving children precious gifts—gifts that are not meant to be hoarded or fretted over, but shared and enjoyed and smiled over.
And so now, here I am breaking every blog rule I know! This post is WAY too long, too rambling and it is not sprinkled with cute graphics. But I don’t even care! Because I am free! and this long, rambling post is my stone of remembrance and my public declaration of praise to the God I simply adore! And my way of thanking him for every single gift (the delightful ones and the difficult ones) that he has given me.
I love you Father. And YOU are the greatest gift of all!