that dangerous place

“You will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

Hearing that we were following God into a new place, a new ministry, a friend of mine who is a missionary in a closed SE Asian country shared a story with me about a big step their family took a few years ago. They were moving from one more populated, somewhat Westernized larger city, into a more remote area in their country where there was no health care (she has 3 young children) and some real political tensions. She had some anxieties about the potential dangers, but they saw God was leading them to reach the unreached in that place. Their leader encouraged her, “you will never know the peace he will give until you put yourself where you most fear.”

The story was encouraging to me as we moved across the country, leaving friends and family and familiarity…I did have peace. And joy. God was taking us.

But the words continued to rattle and clang in my mind – the way they do when God has something else for me to glean from them.

Today I was responding to some over-due e-mails and re-read her encouraging words (and can I just say, it’s pretty humbling to be encouraged by someone I so admire and consider the truest salt of the earth I know!). I couldn’t help but ask myself – “What do I fear that is holding me back? What do I need to give over to the Lord, in exchange for His peace?” 

I had tasted fear before, but wasn’t intimately acquainted with it until I had children. Suddenly a new world of dangers has burst into vibrant life. Mostly they are fears for my children and their physical and spiritual safety, but then there are also fears that I will never sleep again, have a rational thought in the next decade, or be able to leave the house without forgetting somebody’s something till the day I die. I fear messing my kids’ lives up. I fear I’ve already messed up mine. I fear that if I am in certain situations, I will be depressed and in despair.

But I love these words from the Savior:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid…” {Jesus, recorded in John 14

The peace Jesus gives us is “not as the world gives”…worldly peace might be a fat bank account, and safe suburb, a promise of health and security. But Jesus’ peace is different. It is over-and-above circumstances, filled with the Holy Spirit, unafraid – even in the face of “the ruler of this world” (our enemy).

What do you fear?

Maybe, like me, it’s discouragement and depression, or some unspeakable harm befalling your children. Maybe it’s a financial or health concern. Maybe it’s vulnerability with a loved one. Can we throw off these fears, begging God to clear our minds of the fog they bring – and ask Him for peace instead? Let us enter bravely into those places that Satan would make us fear. The Lord has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12)! Is there a dangerous place that God is calling you? Can I urge you, friend – step out. There is peace. Sweet peace and freedom.

My sweet friend is experiencing the peace that passes understanding, in a dark and hostile place. Let us throw off our fears! – and every sin that hinders us, so we can “run with endurance the race that is zset before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12)

Peace to you, friend.

<3 jc

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