Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chapters 11 & 12 (The end...or the beginning?)

We are at the end of our book study!  What an amazing journey this has been.  As I have said before, this is a book that will probably not find it's way to the donation pile :)  I will read it, quote it and read it again.

God is calling us "-in our heart of  hearts- to follow Him on the unpredictable, but exhilarating journey of life!" 

Chapter 11:  Living Beyond Fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
Psalm 27:1

If you've ever struggled with fear, you know there is truth in the following statements:

Fear is truly the enemy of passion and a roadblock to the wisdom God would give us.

Fear can breed a kind of paralysis that makes you think you have to wait until the fear is gone to do the thing you need to do.

...where the fear that stalks our souls and strangles the life of our hearts comes from resisting the gentle prodding of God to move out into life in some new way.

....we get stuck in a shrunken form of the life we are meant to have.

What is it (if anything) that you are afraid of?  What is the one thing that is holding you back from living the life God meant for you to live?

I love this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face....You must do the thing you cannot do.

When we operate in fear, we are being controlled by whatever it is that we are afraid of.  We are accepting limits and boundaries placed on our lives by the thing that does not want us to succeed or move forward.  When we move forward anyway, and DO IT AFRAID....we are taking back ground that was stolen from us and releasing ourselves from the chains that held us captive.

That we are afraid is not a mark of being insufficient to the task or made of inferior stuff.  Risk is always part of the package (pg. 167).

The movement of God in our lives is always to take us by the hand and walk us through the territory of our fear.  Sometimes that feels like the adventure it is - other times, we are led there kicking and screaming.  But God leads in that direction because it is the place of encounter with Him (pg 161).

Fear comes in many different packages, colors, shapes and sizes.  Our own insecurities are rooted fear. And if we let them, they will speak to us with "advice" that is not so Godly or encouraging! On this topic, Paula quotes Nicole Johnson on page 164, "These voices keep our souls chained in the basement.  They make us fearful to try anything new, anxious about what others may think of us, and they keep us on the treadmill of performance (oh my, I've started that exercise program one too many times!).  In short, if we allow them, these voices can easily rob every ounce of enjoyment from the lives we have.  Many women don't even know they are giving power to the voices, living in a state of constant self-disapproval.  Understand this: these voices can immobilize us and keep us from dreaming our dreams.  They can discourage us and cause us to think too small and expect too little from our lives....They make us afraid to be who we are.  The voices can keep us from writing books or changing careers or loving our children well......But only if we let them."

When we begin to trust God in spite of the fear whispering (or sometimes screaming) in our ear, and step out in faith to do that which He has told us to do, there we will find Him, His provision, and the grace we need to complete our task.  In that place of trust, we begin to know Christ intimately.  In that place of intimacy, in that place of KNOWING, we begin to BE.  We begin to live the life we were meant to live.

A few questions from the back of the book to keep you thinking! (pg 233-237)

Do you ever see the smiles of confident women and think they are made of sturdier stuff?  In what way do you identify with the tendency to wait until you no longer feel fear, rather than "doing it afraid"?

If your fear assumed a voice (which it does), what would it say to you? What does the harsh negative message in your mind sound like?

Now, as you pray, think of Jesus sitting with you in the place of your fear.  What words of encouragement do you think He would speak to you?

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed. Deut. 31:6,8

Our book ends with Chapter 12: Longing for Resolution.

The central question before us has been, "How do we make this journey with the Lord without leaving our hearts behind somewhere on the trail?"

Some advice from Paula on pg. 169, "I would suggest to you that making the journey well, with your heart intact, hinges on how you see the big picture of your life.  How does the story end? Do the broken pieces ever really come back together? Is there resolution of some sort? For if there is, then it may actually be both safe and wise to bring your heart along for the ride."

She compares our life on earth as a cover page to a book.  It is only a very "small part of our story.  We were ultimately created for our Father in heaven.  Our way home to Him has already been prepared.  It is something we run toward, while living in this moment with "our heart open and alive....because our future looks really bright."

The future riddles the here and now with meaning.  It frees your heart to truly live (pg. 174).

If God has you in the palm of His hand and your real life is secure in Him, then you can venture forth- into the places, the relationships, the challenges, the very heart of the storm- and you will be safe there (pg. 174).

The last 2 paragraphs of the book, finish our study well and leave my heart expectant.....

There are only three options for approaching life, Gerald May wrote in his book Addiction and Grace. We can deny the call of God on our lives or just pretend the call isn't there.  Or we can try to claim control of the the shape and form our lives will take.  The third option, he says, is the courageous attempt "to face life in a truly undefended and open way".....Where trusting God is indeed the only agenda that makes any sense at all. It is a posture of "gracious uncertainty (Oswald Chambers)", meaning that we have given up the illusion of being certain of anything but God......In this place of gracious uncertainty, we wait. For the broken pieces to be brought back together.  For the meaning of our suffering to be revealed in His.  For the righteous reign of a might God, whose goodness we will spend all eternity celebrating. We wait- with open, expectant hearts."

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  I pray that you have heard God calling you.  That you have rediscovered your heart, and all that is within, and that you have allowed Him into those places that no one- maybe not even yourself - knew were there.  That you have gained strength and started healing.  That you have begun to know Christ more intimately than you ever have before.  And that you've found the courage to say "yes" when you hear Him speak. 


XO
Shelly

(PS...Thank you to Angie and Jessica, who hosted this study on the Bloom Book Club blog and prompted us to follow along.  Without them, we may never have found this book!  And thank you to Paula Rinehart, for your obedience in writing Strong Women, Soft Hearts!  Click on the links to find your way to their websites...you'll be glad you did!)

4 friends had this to say:

starla said...

SHELLY!!! :0)
What an excellent end to this book blog-along!!

Oh fear how you haunt us with you stinking voice over and over
may I place my foot square on your face and move on!!!

YES ..the big picture...all my frangmented peices find a home in the BEING of ME!!God gets all the GLORY for putting me back together --AMEN!!

Stacy said...

"When we begin to trust God in spite of the fear whispering (or sometimes screaming) in our ear, and step out in faith to do that which He has told us to do, there we will find Him, His provision, and the grace we need to complete our task. In that place of trust, we begin to know Christ intimately. In that place of intimacy, in that place of KNOWING, we begin to BE. We begin to live the life we were meant to live." WOW! This statement really spoke to me! Fear is something I have always struggled with and because of fear I have settled for simply doing....and not BEING! How I long to BE all that God created me to be.

Thank you for BEING what God has called you to be....a teacher of His word, who encourages, inspires and leads me closer to the Heart of God!

With much thanksgiving and rejoicing-
~Stacy

fallingintofavor said...

I'm looking forward to the next book! I may never read again :) {kidding, but I do feel like I've gained a lot from reading what you chose to share. Paula did a great job with the book, and you did a great job of capturing it for the rest of us}

V said...

Firstly, ja thanks for making me cry...
those questions... ja they really spoke to me and what was going on inside lately...
so i think I finally got the message from God now...