Orlando, Radical Faith, & Surrendering Fear

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I heard the news of the Orlando massacre after church on Sunday. My kids were playing in our living room and I was crouched over our kitchen countertop in disbelief as I scrolled through Facebook. Is this real? I thought. Terrorism had once again revealed its evil and ugliness in all its forms.

My seven year old was next to me and I kept the news to myself while he played with his rescue bots. Soon enough, John would begin to understand the evil in our world and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share what I had just learned so I stayed silent, praying for the innocent victims and the horrors of radical Islam. I looked in his brown eyes and thought about his innocent heart.

I began to think about the battle we are engaged in as Christ-followers. It is a spiritual one indeed. Just as Satan disguised himself in the garden and many times throughout Scripture, I believe he too is disguising himself under the name of radical Islam. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus says that He has come to bring us life – abundant life to the fullest. I’m well aware from my Islamic Doctrine class in seminary that these radicals are out to kill everyone – no matter if they’re gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and more. I’m well aware that they want to take over the world.

We need to get serious as a nation about the battle being a spiritual one.

Naturally, fears race through my mind and reading Fox News and CNN doesn’t help. The news fuels my fears. What if terrorism continues to increase in America? What about the safety of my children, family, and friends? What if we continue to have spineless leadership in our nation that is unwilling to call it what it is?

Fears plague my heart if I do not surrender them to Jesus. Ironically, I have been reading the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as I was encouraged recently to begin reading biographies. As a German theologian and pastor during the rise of the Nazi’s, Dietrich had much to fear yet in his story, he revealed how the only thing we really should be fearing is God – our Creator.

Bonhoeffer stood up for biblical principles in a time when even the German “Christians” believed in wiping out the Jewish race. He knew that God created all person’s equal. After eventually joining the resistance movement against the wickedness in his day, he was imprisoned and hung.

His faith remained unshakable and radical. He knew that his faith in Jesus was worth dying for. He knew that the only thing in life worth fearing is God. And that God would take care of him until death.

Bonhoeffer’s story is nothing short of inspiring as he clung to his faith in the midst of the horrors of the Nazi regime. It is nothing short of supernatural. Right now in America, we are facing all kinds of other forms of evil invading our land. We too, have the choice to remain steadfast and unmovable in our faith or to cower in fear.

It is in this time that it is tempting to doubt God and his plans. It is tempting to doubt his love for us. For me, it is just tempting to fear continually, on a daily basis if I let the nightmares get to my heart. But I know that Jesus’ perfect love casts out fear and like Bonhoeffer revealed, the only one I truly need to fear is my God – who has the ultimate authority over my life and death.

It is also in these times that prayer is vital. When we feel like all is lost and forsaken, we need to get our knees dirty and shake the dust off our Bibles. We need to be busy in God’s will because the days are short. We need to exchange our fear, worry, and anxiety with trust, peace, and hope in Jesus – the One who will one day, make all things right.

As I look into my girls’ blue eyes and my boys’ brown eyes, I see hope, joy, peace, and a contagious child-like faith. And I certainly need more of what they have.

The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms. – Phil Wickham

Daring to Risk a Little More

“I want to go up there!” my son John shouted pointing to the white monkey bars off in the distance. They were really high and obviously not suited for his age, but we wanted to let him try. Besides, great determination was in his eyes.

We ran over to the monkey bars and my husband lifted him up. His little fingers latched on to the first bar and he made it to the next. He tried to hold on, but he lost his grip.

“All done!” he cried.

Daddy pulled him down and after a few minutes, even though it was a little scary, you could tell he was satisfied with the attempt.

John’s zeal to go just a little further taught me a lot about my own faith. Often, I’m content and comfortable to stay “elementary” in my faith instead of maturing and growing up towards godliness.

Pursuing more in my faith requires discipline and discipline is hard work. I think that’s why I’m quick to remain put and not take risks that seem difficult or even impossible by human standards.

But God has called me to something so much greater. He calls me to step out of comfort and into living on mission for Him, meaning that I must give MORE.

  • Giving more in the way I serve others for no other reason but love.
  • Giving more in the way I raise my children and love and respect my husband.
  • Giving more in the way I use my gifts and abilities so that others will be edified and equipped.
  • Giving more in the way I share the resources and money God has entrusted to me.
  • Giving more in the way I proclaim the gospel to whoever God puts on my path.

Failure, disappointment, and conflict are all risks that come with this kind of giving and it is radical. But the joy and fullness and blessing of knowing God through giving more away is irreplaceable—bringing me just a little bit closer to complete maturity and Christ-likeness.

John was craving more when he saw those big kid monkey bars. While he was innocent of the dangers, he trusted in his daddy to help him reach each challenge.

So it is with God.

What areas in your life do you need to give more? What are you risking?

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