What if __________? How many times have we said this to ourselves or asked someone else this same question and filled in the blank with an unthinkable fear or event? As I look around the news today it seems this blank is being filled in by horrific and tragic events every single day. Some of it is avoidable by choice and some of it, I believe is unavoidable. But when these things happen, how do we respond so that when the blank is filled in by something else, our response is better?
It is no secret that fear permeates every area of my life and I work each day to remove it. Fear is not from God. When I fear then I’m displaying a lack of trust in God. Each time fear enters my mind, I must remind myself that my faith is in Jesus Christ and He will protect me from that which can harm me. My fear of seizures, my fear of living the rest of my life dependent on others, my fear of never being able to work again, my fear of the stigmas that surround epilepsy…these are reasonable. Oh, and my fear of Target…totally reasonable. But, when I look at these things that I fear, and I look BACK on them, I see how these things that I fear “drove me” to the places I have been over the last 8+ years. All those years, God was protecting me and seeing me through life.
My life circumstances took me to a cross roads many years ago. I had to decide whether to continue working in full time ministry or walk away. In some ways I felt I was giving into the seizures, but most of all I heard God telling me it was time…time to go onto something better, in a supportive environment of love and understanding. Leaving full time work for no job may seem insane, but when I heard God tell me it was time for my family and for me, I knew He would protect me from harm. In the years that followed my Mom successfully battled cancer. She needed me, and God had seen to it that I would be there. I spent 6 years caring for my Grandmother, an experience that changed my life forever. Had I not known, had I not seen, had I not experienced the dependence that she would feel and need, I never would have been able to care for her the way I did. Those 6 years with her brought many tears of pain, but more tears of joy and laughter as we both accepted each other just the way we were. We never wasted time putting on a fake face and it was common for both of us to lower our glasses and see eye to eye in any given discussion or decision. She was from a different generation where the words epilepsy and seizures were never said. Strange how all those years she referred to “that thing you have” because she just couldn’t say it. Maybe she never accepted it, but we both knew that “it” gave me time for her. God had allowed me to go to dark places so that I could shine His light where she was.
I will NEVER forget the sheer joy my oldest had on his face, as a 3rd grader, when I told him there would be no more after school care for him because Mom would be at home. He stood in disbelief, making sure it was not a cruel joke and then he erupted in bliss. This would be good. Seizures brought me home, God protects us from harm and gives us better, WHEN we put Him first.
Now, this life change has been no bed of roses. Don’t misunderstand me. My point is that I can not fear. Notice I put this in present terms, and not past terms. For me, this is a daily practice that I must do in present terms! BUT, my past experiences have proven time and time again that I should not fear. God will protect me from harm, BUT I must trust Him first. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I must work and learn and devote time to increasing Him in my life and decreasing myself. This, I have learned is the key to overcoming the fears that surround us.
There are valid things around us to fear. The unthinkable and the unspeakable and the unreasonable happens around us everyday. As believers, we are called to center our focus on God. He will help us through. I have witnessed this and I have no doubt that only God protected. HE must increase, but I must increase. I must make God my target; yes I realize what I just wrote. When He is my focus, then He gives strength. No, He will not tell us why, and no he can not take away the pain. With God as our focus He will protect us and see us through the challenges of life.
What if …I increase Him, and decrease me? What if you increase Him, and decrease you? What if we challenge those around us to do the same? I wonder what news we might hear…?
Copyright © Gatewood Campbell, June 2015