Mommy, I’m Scared

July 20, 2016

By Laura DiFatta

“Mommy, I’m scared!”  Chances are you’ve either said these words as a child or you’ve heard them as a parent.  Recently, our youngest boy got up from bed crying because he was scared.  I took him by his little hand, led him back to bed and laid down beside him.  I listened and held him close as he told me all about his bad dream.  And then I did what most any parent would do:  I soothed and reassured him by him telling him:  “I am here.”   And because he trusts me, he was calmed.

Even as I comforted him, I was empathizing with him.  I understand fear.  I now have grown-up fears.  And, although I know there are no monsters in my closet, I do know there cause for fear this world.  And just as my little boy felt helpless that night, many times, so do I.

But, just as I reassured Trent of my presence, I was reminded and comforted, too, by  remembering the presence of my Heavenly Father.  I know from the Word of God that He takes His children very seriously.  I know that I am His.  And so, because of this confidence, I pray often, taking my fears to my Heavenly Father in whose Presence I find comfort.

The fact that I have faith in God doesn’t mean I am impervious or immune to fears, I just know Who to run to when I am afraid.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”  (Psalm 56:3)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…”  “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me.  He drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy… they confronted me… but the Lord was my support.”  (Psalm 18: 2, 6, 16-18.)

“And there is no God apart from me; a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.  Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”  “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  (Isaiah 45:21b-22, 46:4b)

When Jesus—who is described in the Bible as God’s exact representation (Hebrews 1:3)—walked this earth in flesh and blood, he interacted daily with human beings of all ages, stages, positions and walks of life.  One of the most tender interactions recorded in Scripture is when Jesus was in a crowd and welcomed little children who were brought to Him. This was not a cultural norm.  Jesus gave us this ageless, profound and comforting Truth as He opened His arms to the little children: “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”   And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.”  (Mark 10:13-16)

In this passage, Jesus highlights the vital component of having a relationship with him: that we come to Him with the trust of a little child.  Little children don’t typically have to figure out every angle and what-if in order to trust someone;  they are humble, vulnerable, honest and guileless, which is so very precious to God.   Anyone familiar with children knows they come to people they trust—often— with needs and with expectations!  And we expect them to need us.  We would not turn them away in their need.  We are also familiar with the compassion that arises in us when our children cry out for us.  And we are imperfect parents!  Just think of the compassion of our God who made us and loves us with perfect love!  He is so tender that He uses, “the apple of my eye,” to describe His children.

I want to be very clear today:  You do not have to have yourself together to run to God. You have a God who knows you need Him.  Your need— whatever that looks like today— is not a surprise to Him.  And… You don’t ever have to not need Him!  In fact, we demonstrate our lack of understanding God’s deep love for us when we falsely think that we have to “handle” things on our own or only bother Him with the “big things.”  Faith and trust in relationships grow in everyday moments.  It is the same with God.  We get to know Him through a daily seeking and communing with Him.  God is eager to connect our seeking Him with His precious provision!

Let some of these truths comfort you and inform you about the God who loves you:
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” (Psalm 68:19)
“Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
He tells us that we can come to Him in prayer for all our needs and that He will guard our hearts with His powerful peace through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4: 6-7)

In John 16:33, Jesus calls Himself our Overcomer in this troubled world.  Our Overcomer.  Are you going to your Overcomer throughout each day?  You can!

You were made to experience the peace and the fullness of a relationship with God.  He wants a vibrant relationship with you!  You are fully known and fully loved.  Jesus, came to repair and restore our brokenness and give hope and purpose to our moments and— greater still— to assure us that He even has our eternity in His hands!  He took care of that need for us even before we knew we needed Him to!  (1 John 4:10)  How much more, once we have trusted Him as Savior of our eternities can our hearts trust Him with the moments— needs, concerns, burdens, cares, worries, relationships, the present, the future— every part of our lives! (Romans 8:31-33)

I encourage you today to go to God like a little child.  Christ  even reminds us that “small” faith placed in Him is so precious and powerful!   Sometimes we just need to be reminded to practice trusting our Father God with child-like trust. Have you ever heard a little child pray?  Children pray for neighbor’s pets and friends boo-boo’s and stuffed animals and just about anything that pops into their minds— they take it all to God.  That is flat beautiful!!  Growing up and maturing does not mean we have to outgrow God!  In fact, the more we trust Him and we grow in faith, the more eager we will be to run to Him!  And as you get to know God, you will begin to want Him for Him and not only for what He can do for you.

And so, even as I comforted my little boy after his nightmare, I was reminded as I spoke Truth to him:  “Sweetheart, God hears you, God loves you and He cares about everything in your life.  You can talk to him anytime about anything and He will help you.”  I could feel him nod his head against me. “Even when Mommy and Daddy are not able to be with you, your strong, loving God is with you.”

Then, he said, “Mom, I want to pray.”  And so, with his little voice still quivering from having been crying, he talked to God.  “Dear God, thank you for this day.  Please help me have sweet dreams.  I love you so much.  I love you so, so, so much.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
And soon he was asleep.

His prayer wasn’t sophisticated.  It was simple and direct, grateful, needy and expectant.  And I know it pleased God’s heart.  As Jesus said, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  (Luke 18:16)

Moments when fear meets faith are holy moments.  These are moments where faith is nurtured and grows.  These are moments that teach little children and grown-ups.  God responds to faith—even teeny-tiny faith.  Faith that sometimes simply and only calls out “Jesus!”  And even when we don’t ‘feel’ like He hears us, He is greater than our feelings. (1 John  3:20) He is mighty to save!

We all wrestle with fears. We all have needs great and small.   I choose to carry mine to God today with the expectant faith of a little child.  Will you go, too?

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

A Love that was Fought and Won for Us

March 25, 2016

By Laura DiFatta

I love Easter.  This time of year brings a breath of fresh air to my winter-weary soul.  And I love Easter egg hunts and new flowers and warmer temperatures and bunnies and cute little Spring outfits on cuter babies.  All of it.  And then– just when I’m feeling the “all-is-well” vibe of new life springing up everywhere— screech!!  Good Friday.  A day I’m supposed to reflect on a death.

In the past, Good Friday, made me feel guilty.  Honestly.  The problem I had was personal.  Because I was asked to take His death personally.  My religion asked me to acknowledge that He died for me.  I mean, that’s heavy.  I haven’t lived a raucous, racy life.  My life story would not be all that interesting to most people.  And I was being asked to believe that my sins put Jesus on the cross where he died an agonizing death.

So, basically, for most of my life, I was walking around functioning as a Christian who believed in my own goodness,  all the while,  minimizing my need for what Christ did.   After approximately 40 years of trying to prove my goodness was good enough to earn God’s love and acceptance and trying to hide my junk from Him, I was done.  Despair had crept in like a home invader and was suddenly large in the spaces of my heart and mind.  I became so weary.  Just so dang tired of trying.  And so, I cried out to God from down in that hole.  And He answered me and I have never been the same.

Like a quiet revolution of the soul, God poured a fresh understanding of His love into my heart and mind.

Out with the old, in with the new:  I finally understood, that my best wasn’t even close to good enough to earn my way into God’s approval.  A fatal flaw is that most of us are convinced that we aren’t all that bad.  Thinking that way, has us propping ourselves up on our own merit before God.  We prefer to think of ourselves as “good” people.  But, our standard of “good” is flawed and prejudiced benefitting ourselves and is ever-changing to fit our needs.  God’s standard of good is set and is exemplified in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus came because our standard because our standard could never be good enough.  And so,  He did—with His perfect life—what you and I could never do:  He earned our way to God. He made our way to God. He became our way to God.

Sin comes in all shapes and sizes, but it carries the common denominator of deserving the wrath of God.  He is so holy, so pure, so perfect that sin has literally no place in his presence.   Sin always carries an intrinsic price that must be paid.  It’s ultimate price: our eternal condemnation and separation from God.   That is heavy.  And Jesus knew that.  And so he carried it for us… to the cross.

Jesus willingly died a death He did not deserve, for the past, present and future sins of people who didn’t even love Him or seek Him and want Him, so that we would have reconciliation with God.   He and Father God agreed from before time began on this Rescue plan.  And the Plan was carried through on that Good and terrible Friday: the day of Jesus’ death.

The Rescue plan was finished when Jesus said, “It is finished,” and breathed his last breath.  That day, He experienced the horror of a complete separation from God so we would not have to.  And He did all this before we knew Him.  Before we knew we needed Him.

And here is where great good news rushes in like the life it is:   When we base our merit on what Christ did on Good Friday—through trusting in Him, no past, present or future sin will ever be used against us again.  Incredibly, He imparts His perfect record onto us!!  We are no longer condemned!

Now, when I face the ugliness of my own sin, I run to God, knowing the precious price that was paid for me to be able to.   I run to Him, grateful, knowing His specialty is loving and forgiving.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of the sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  (Colossians 2:13-15) That is life-giving, life-encouraging, worthy of our shouts of praise!

I recently talked to a Muslim man who said, “We all are trying to please God and He will sort us all out at the end.”  That is a harsh and uncertain way to live.  I told him, “I know a way to  peace with God.  It is not based on our human efforts or merit.  There is not one day, I could present myself perfect to God by even my own flawed standard.  But God, sent His own Son, Jesus, to be our standard bearer.  He has taken the wrath we deserved and through our faith in Him, He imparts His perfect record onto us so that we can experience peace with God.  Jesus is our living Savior, who—the Bible says—“ is able to save completely those who come to God through Him and that He lives to intercede for us!”  (Hebrews 7:25)  I continued, “I am not trying to introduce you to another religion, to another set of rules to follow.  You have enough rules now, right?”  He nodded.  I continued,   “I am asking you to take a fresh look at Jesus.  You revere him as a prophet.  I tell you, He is the Savior.”

Will you take a fresh look at Jesus?  Will you let this compelling and dramatic love story settle into your heart?  If you doubt him, will you ask Him to show you who He really is? If you are already religious, will you ask Him to help you fall in love with Him, to remember and reflect on and be compelled by His love for you?  Get ready, your life will never be the same!

*Delivered:  A Memoir.  Janet Gillispie with Sammie Jo Barstow

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