We have many friends and family members in the north who are likely rolling their eyes at talk of "spring," and I won't blame them, but indulge me for just a minute. We have had so many days of temperatures in the 50's and 60's, and even as someone who loves winter and the cold, there is always a part of my heart that seems to wake up refreshed at the onset of spring. Even if this awakening starts in February, here.
What I've noticed over the last few months is word repetition in my life, specifically the word fear. My gut response is to turn away from that word, or skip that song that came on Spotify, or just skim over that devotional, because that's not really an issue for me.
If someone asked me, "What are you afraid of?" I'd have a hard time answering straightaway. I know full well that I have fears, but mine tend to be the silent, less-tangible ones. The kind that are the silent killers of joy. Not confronting fear that inevitably sneaks up on me gives it more power in a way, leaving me prone to insecurity and ambush.
In the last week, I've been confronted with the word fear yet again, but a different version of it this time. As I've been reading in 1 Kings about the fear of the Lord, about how He controls history and the present, how He is a promise-giver, and how He is the only true God, I'm beginning to clearly see the contrast between fear and fear.
For the sake of transparency, my biggest fears currently circle around wondering if we'll be in a waiting season forever, or wondering if He doesn't want good things for us, or feeling that we're forgotten, or that we shouldn't waste our energy with our dreams for the future. Typing that out brings a lot of freedom. And now that it's out there on the table, I can exchange those lies for reverence to a God who I know is absolutely good.
If I let go of the confining and immobilizing earthly fear that Satan would like to use to rule my life, then my hands are free to grab ahold of the fear (reverence) that pulls me into God's presence as his child. And there, in that grasp, I can trust that He's in control, and that there are even more good things that follow.
And he said to man, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding. Job 28:28
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:2-5
The antidote for earthly fear is to go to the Word, ask for wisdom, and He'll replace the earthly fear with knowledge and wisdom and a holy braveness like we've never known before. Fear in waiting or difficult life seasons is the opposite of fearing the Lord, actually. When I fear (revere) the Lord, there's no need to fear anything else. And fear in Him results in wisdom and understanding. My prayers are four-fold:
- Loosen the grip of earthly fear on my heart, show me Your power
- Give me reverence and a desire to worship You and spend time with You in Your word
- Open my eyes to wisdom and understanding, and keep my heart open for whatever You intend for our life
- Continue to soften and do work in my heart, if new fears crop up
After what has felt like a winter of my soul, I'm feeling spiritually refreshed and more joyful lately than I've been in a while.
On a lighter note, here are some (less eternally significant, but lovely!) things that are making my heart sing:
- A coffee and knitting date with my friend Molly, where we drank lattes and put our swonchos-in-progress side-by-side and talked about how's God's moving in our lives (because He is). She brought me homemade cookies, that I just ate for fika.
- Visiting my friend Jessica to see her and her little boy for a few snuggles, at least a few hugs, and a glass (or two) of her yummy homemade kombucha
- Sharing fika and a quilt with Nicholas, on a morning when I'm call
- Walking on wet, brown earth, and the promise of growth underneath
- Watching the most fascinating video from Dianna Walla about Norweigian wool
- Listening to the newest Vance Joy album, Nation of Two, while driving with the windows open, hearing the line, No ray of sunlight's ever lost. It's sweet, and summery-sounding, and has just the right amount of lightness.
- Listening to Suddenly (Or the Nuclear Sunburst of the Truth Revealed) by Young Oceans, for my joy. Specifically, I love the line I feel it all around me, the favor and freedom of the Lord, akin to Psalm 5:11-12.
Reading Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard, which I've talked about before, but I read this excerpt last week, coincidentally on the same day I caught little, fresh glimpses of spring:
The change in scene after their long journey through the desert was wonderful. A long-deferred spring was just loosening everything from the grip of winter, and all the trees were bursting into fairest green and the buds were swelling. [...]
Much-Afraid told herself that never before had she realized what the awakening from the death of winter was like. Perhaps it had needed the desert wastes to open her eyes to all this beauty, but she walked through the wood, almost forgetting for a little while that Sorrow and her sister [Suffering] also walked with her.
Everywhere she looked it seemed that the unfurling green on the trees and the nesting birds and the leaping squirrels and blossoming flowers were all saying the same thing, greeting one another in their own special language with a sort of ecstasy and calling cheerfully, "You see, the winter has gone at last. The delay was not unto death but for the glory of God. Never was there a fairer spring than this."
At the same time, Much-Afraid herself was conscious of a wonderful stirring in her own heart, as though something were springing up and breaking into new life there too.
Will you join me in praying for an early spring of the soul this year? I'm ready. I'll bet you are too.