Margaret Feinberg calls them sacred echoes, when the same message pops up in different places and seems to be on repeat around you. The echoes were sounding this week, the quote I had seen written on a chalkboard at school in some student’s handwriting was now being shared in a different wording on my Facebook page from a friend who had it pop up in her “memories’. Apparently, some years ago I had connected with it and now it is taking up more space in my heart and mind.
May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. -Nelson Mandela
and then the other one:
May the choices you make reveal your trust, not your fears. -Jennifer Dukes
Fear, hope, trust, choices, these seem so interconnected. Can one exist without the others? What interesting quotes. Do all our choices reflect one or the other, or some sort of jumble? Do hopes naturally come with fears? Does fear show a lack of trust?
Three hundred sixty five times, supposedly, the Bible says “do not fear.” Some clever meme says, “God wrote one for everyday of the year.” Not sure the actual statistics or variation of “do not fear” and it definitely had nothing to do with our modern day calendars since the Jews and Greeks had a different schedule than we do, but when God repeats Himself, it is worth taking notice. Apparently it is something we need to hear a lot. How we hope and what we hope in makes all the difference in our fear level and our trust level.
Perfect love casts out fear. What do our fears really tell us about ourselves? What do our hopes reveal? Hope was my word a long time ago and as I shared a bit ago that this year it seems to be hope again. Somewhere along the line my hope got skewed and off target. (You can read about that here: https://inkblotlife.com/2019/01/29/hope-again/ ) So I am back on track choosing to hope and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in what it looks like and does not look like. Maybe that’s why these thoughts are sitting with me so long, causing me to ponder the truth in them.
In school as I sub, it is easy to see choices being made based on fear. Fear that is very real visited these kids at early ages. Fear makes them hold on super tight to the people who are left in their lives, or makes them hold on to no one because they have learned people will leave you and even those who should be your forever people will betray you and let you down. Their choices are being made whether large or small based on the undercurrent of fear. What do our fears reveal about us? What do my fears reveal about me?
How can we be honest enough with ourselves and self-aware enough to allow our choices to reveal truth to us? Almost weekly I repeat Tozer’s quote in our Ladies’ Small Group, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Where we place our hopes, and what fears dominate come out in our choices revealing what we are thinking about God. Do I believe God is good? Do I believe He can lead me? Do I believe that He can make all things new? Do I believe that He can redeem and restore all things, even the things I get wrong?
I am reminded of the martyred missionary Jim Elliot and his words, that on good days I declare loudly, and on others I forget that truth is not dependent on circumstances, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” I find that if I am not abiding, or if I am allowing fears to grow, then I cannot be all there and all in. Fears will bully and shame me, and cause choices and their consequences to dominate the landscape. If I am fully convinced that God is with me, then my choices look very different, or at least the peace in my heart and mind is different. One of my favorite teachings by Andy Stanley is a talk he gave at a youth leaders’ conference about Joseph (of the book of Genesis). He walks the audience through Joseph’s life and continues to repeat this line, ” What would somebody, who is me, do in these circumstances, if they were absolutely confident that God was with them?”
So I continue to ask God to teach me His ways, and show me His path. I want my choices to reveal the hope and trust I have in a good God that loves me with an everlasting love. I am thankful that God continues to pursue me and show me where my choices do not reflect that, and how He can redeem even that. So I boldly come to the throne asking God to strengthen my hope, and solidify it in Him and Him alone, so that I can follow Solomon’s wise words, “trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.