As I rejoice in making another rotation around the sun, I thought it time to share some life lessons that have impacted me the most. The older I get the more it becomes apparent that life really boils down to two great motivating principles, love and fear. Within the realm of those polar opposite anchors, life is either lived or not lived, enjoyed or endured, embraced with fondness or survived with pain and suffering. Nothing can make your life sing and move with gentleness and grace like love and nothing can take away your song and slow life to a standstill like fear. It is always so plain and simple yet often obscured from our view. When we are operating from a heart of love the days; the good days sail by. But, when fear has eased its way into our existence nothing works anymore and time appears to slow down to a crawl with dangers and threats surrounding us. If you only learn one great lesson throughout your life it is always to encourage love as your reason why and to dismiss fear and its whole world of counterfeits from your existence.
Many years ago as I sat through a class called, “Power for Abundant Living” I learned for the first time in my life what fear was and how it serves to thwart and ruin your life. And incredulously for the first time in my life I was no longer afraid of anything. Fear which had ruled my earlier days no longer held a place of prominence in my heart. When the fear is finally gone, life is a joyful experience just as God intended it to be. But, the problem is most people do not even know they are afraid. Fear is such a pervasive part of our culture and how we live that we accept it as simply part of the human condition. As such, the whole earth literally runs on fear, acts out of fear and chooses based on fear. How fear drives people! How fear delineates our choices in life. How fear whips people into submission leading to the multitudes no longer feeling they have any say about how their life will turn out. Fear causes people to limp along desperately trying to avert the tragedies and difficulties that seem to assail all people. People are afraid of their health failing and not having enough and becoming poor and not winning and not getting what they wanted and losing respect and sudden loss and not finding love and not becoming successful or actually becoming successful or dying prematurely or being found out or not getting their needs met or not climbing the corporate ladder fast enough or not having money when they retire or turning into their mother or their father and on and on it goes. It’s all fear and it’s always wrong. Fear, indulged (and how can you not indulge it when it is literally all around you), leads always to the very failure and loss you were trying so hard to avoid. Fear steals away the time in your life. Fear ruins relationships. Fear stops you from prospering and just as surely as the sun will set leads to all manner of sickness and disease. Fear robs you of your energy and enthusiasm for living. So many folks are living depressed lives with absolutely nothing to look forward to because of fear. Fear closes all the doors and shuts all the windows. Yet it never seems to dawn on folks that fear is the real culprit behind ALL of their troubles.
So why, do you ask, am I sharing this with you today? I’m sharing it because even if you have come to terms with fear and grappled with it, it can still sneak into your life unawares. You’re going along living your life with God enjoying all of the benefits and blessings of living in love and slowly and imperceptibly you start adding in some works to sort of help God do His job better. Maybe you recognize how good life has been and you want that way to continue as it has before. Instead of keeping your focus on God where it belongs you start to focus in on yourself more and more. And the more you focus on yourself the more imperfections you begin to see which naturally prompts you to work a little harder. Then, the harder you work the more you come up short. Soon enough your mind becomes overly preoccupied with everything that is wrong with you. You begin to like yourself less and less and it seems like all of your choices have become bad. Now instead of trusting God to care for you in every possible way, which is how you originally overcome your fear, you revert back to self and all the things you must somehow do in order to garner God’s favor in your life once again, those times when you lived above fear. Now the things that were so effortless for you have become challenging and your good results less and less. So you work a little harder and pray a little more often and vow to swear off this and get rid of that. Yet heaven’s brass and you wonder what you ever did to lose God’s love and perfection in your life. You wonder why He isn’t answering your prayers anymore and why you are not getting the things you need. But, do you know what really happened? What happened was, unbeknownst to you, you allowed fear back into your life. And no matter how it is disguised, whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, whether your works are good or your works are bad, fear cannot help but produce what it always produced, pain, misery and a lack of good fruit. Fear is the great thwarter of efforts and retarder of any progress. It is never God who changes towards us, but rather we change towards Him. We forget that He is the great initiator of all good things and that it is by His grace that we prevail. We lose sight of His goodness in our lives and attempt to generate that goodness from within. Our challenges, our lack of results, our so-called unanswered prayers are only so because we have replaced our love with fear which can never, ever work.
Thus, if I can only leave one thing with you on the evening of my birthday it is this. Seek out and get rid of fear in your life no matter how it shows up. The fears you cleave to; the falsehoods you have accepted; the wrong motivations that have been driving you – rid them from your life. If you do not they will eat and tear away at everything that is good. They will stall your progress and set you back. They will steal your results. They will open the door to all sorts of trouble and difficulty in your life. Decisions and actions motivated by fear, no matter how pious they appear, can only lead to loss and defeat. Instead choose love. Do things because you want to do them not because you have to do them out of fear. Stop pretending to be someone you are not and be yourself, the good and the bad. Don’t hide yourself from God or from anyone else for that matter. You do not have to earn the favor of everyone at the expense of yourself. Live your days in freedom where you decide how you are going to live. If you don’t want to help don’t. If you don’t want to give don’t. But if you do, do it from the love in your heart. Do it not to secure a return but because you want to love and help people. Don’t do it to earn God’s favor or protection in your life but because you already have it! That is love and love is the only thing that overcomes fear. This life is frightfully short with each revolution around the sun. Why spend your days afraid of some lying outcome that will likely never comes to pass? Instead get out there and live again. Take chances. Try new stuff. Believe in yourself. Get your groove back. Get rid of your fears old and new. Your life really is on the other side of fear.
Just some good thoughts…