I hadn’t planned on writing an Easter-related blog post, even though it’s my all time favorite day to celebrate. Truthfully, I have really enjoyed my blogging break and time away for more reasons than just focusing on writing my novel. I’ve found peace I didn’t even know my soul needed; it was hiding somewhere between the self-discipline and quiet, away from the noise I had somehow dubbed as “normal.” In fact, earlier this week I even deactivated my personal Facebook page – something I’ve always thought about doing but had yet to do. “It helps me stay connected to family and friends” I used to always say, my reasoning for staying on it. But then I realized, yes but it helps me stay connected HOW? Through deep and meaningful ways of communication? Uh, not exactly. More like, it gives me a false sense of staying connected through superficial means that only encourage my increasing need of instant gratification, and being “in the know” about things that don’t really bring any true meaning to my day-to-day and only seem to instill anxiety, anger, negativity, and fear. I’d been feeling so worn down and it was by no fault of my own. In the madness that is the upcoming election, there has been more negativity and hatefulness spread across people’s pages than ever, and yet I’ve been turning to this place (Facebook) multiple times a day. For what?! I’ve consumed myself with so much social media-ing in the last 5 years of my life and I can see now that it’s done more damage than it has good. It’s been only a few days of being Facebook-free and I can’t begin to tell you the breathing room I’ve found. I’m not sure I will ever go back to it.
It hit me while I was out for a walk on Monday that my brain was filled more with other people’s thoughts than it was my own thoughts. And what’s worse, hearing the truth of Jesus’ words in my head and heart had been hastily pushed to a place I could barely feel anymore. My heart felt heavy, sad. And while I’d open my bible and spend time in serious prayer, my heart still felt heavy. Just as the media twists and turns things and only lets us hear what they want us to hear (which is often fear-inducing propaganda), I had unknowingly allowed other people’s opinions and thoughts – and yes, fear – become my own. Their thoughts and words became my thoughts and words, and I felt paralyzed with fear for the future of our world. In short, I felt a hopelessness I’d never felt before.
And then- Brussels. My. heart. broke. Like, serious sadness. Serious fear. What is our world coming to? What if this just gets worse? What if it gets worse here in the states? Surely this is the beginning to the end of times. Where is the hope and reassurance we so desperately need?
This morning, I got to thinking about how easy it is for us to veer towards fear than it is hope, or the truths we should know with all of our being. Is there some kind of innate response in us that makes us do this? I immediately thought of a newborn baby. Babies do not have the fears we adults have. They were not born this way, I cannot and will not believe it. I searched in my Bible to see what is said about this, and found this:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Ah, proof that no, our souls were not created to have this kind of anxiety and fear. So where does this fear come from? I have to believe that it comes when we focus and rely on our own “understanding” and on the opinions of others, instead of on His words. I had forgotten how to quiet everything else and focus on the only voice that matters: Jesus. His truth is the only one that matters, the only one that counts. The only one we can trust, without a shadow of a doubt. And when He says that He is going to do something, when He gives us His promises – we can be assured that He will keep them. He will follow through. He already has.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake up again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. Psalm 3:2-6 NIV
Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” Isaiah 35:4
And so, I will live not in vain or fear, but instead with love and hope, by His strength, in His truth, and in His everlasting love. PRAISE, on this upcoming Easter day for HE IS RISEN. He has already won, He has already overcome all that we fear, it is already done. And He will one day come back to gather us up – the ones whose hearts belong to Him – to take us home, just one more promise of Jesus that we can live in. There is still great hope to hold onto. And I’m starting to see that holding onto it might not be enough: we must make that hope a part of our whole souls, our entire being. We must cling to it as if our life depended on it. (Because it most certainly does.) How blessed are we to have such a hope to cling to?! As I enter into the days of reflection of Christ’s sacrifice for us – the greatest rescue mission in the history of the world – I choose to give thanks, to focus on His truths AND NOTHING ELSE, and to celebrate in praise on the third day when He rose again… is there any greater display of hope? Thank you, Jesus.
(Update: Any specific mention in the comments section below of a political party or candidate will be deleted.)