There’s at least one more “weapon” we must learn to wield in our fight against fear: obedience.
We fight fear, not only with prayer and promises, but with action that declares to God and everyone else: “I will not let this fear dictate my life.”
This advice comes from Elisabeth Elliot (again) in the form of an old poem (emphasis mine):
“Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’
Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, ‘DO THE NEXT THING.’”
As an act of faith, I must pray, “Lord, I believe you are going to deliver me from this fear. I am asking for your help. I am going to keep asking for your help. I am going to keep speaking truth. But in the meantime, I’m going to do what you’ve called me to do.”
Then I have to get off the couch and do it. Something. Anything. The next thing.
So what’s your next thing? It might be to simply get out of bed and take a shower. It might be to get in the car and drive the carpool. It might be to go talk to your teenager or be consistent to teach your toddler to come “right away, all the way, and with a happy heart.”
Whatever your mothering fear, cast it on the Lord and do the next thing. And, as JC Ryle encourages parents: “It is in the going forward that God will meet you.”
Each December’s end, after I take down the Christmas decorations, I find it difficult to come up with creative ways to decorate the fireplace mantle or create a centerpiece for the dining room table—something that’s not Christmasy but still wintry. This year I stumbled upon an idea online that is super easy (a must for me!), quick (I hate spending too much time on something so trivial!) and cheap (I spent $1.69 for ice cream salt). This website showed me how to “Create a beautiful winterscape by adding salt, to resemble snow, into clear glass containers and inserting sticks.” See the picture in 52home.
Have a grace-filled weekend everyone!
Carolyn for my girls
2:06 p.m. Mom’s Winter Mantle
4:07 p.m. For Kristin
Recently, I heard a story about a woman who was gripped by fear in the middle of a dangerous storm. She got on her knees and asked God to help her trust Him, and instantly her fears vanished. She got up from her knees, got into bed, and fell asleep. Just like that. “I wish that would happen to me more often!” I thought. But I don’t usually feel less fearful the instant I pray or read Scripture. And then I worry that I’m doing something wrong or (mistakenly) assume that God’s solution for anxiety “isn’t working.” But my fearful feelings don’t mean that God hasn’t answered my prayers. Instead, as Elisabeth Elliot explains, “[God] wants us to learn to use our weapons.” He wants me to learn to persevere in prayer, he wants me to form habits of casting cares (1 Pet. 5:7) and befriending faithfulness (Ps. 37:3). He wants me to become proficient at speaking truth to myself. He wants me to learn to trust Him, even when I don’t feel like it. So if you think God has abandoned you in your fight against fear, think again. The ongoing fight isn’t a sign that He’s forgotten you, but that He’s teaching you to trust.
Today was the same as yesterday, which was the same as the day before that, and so on—for about as long as I can remember now. I changed diapers, made lunches, put toys away, corrected bad attitudes, prayed for ouchies, and imagined what it would feel like to take a really long nap. The days are long and the days are ordinary; and sometimes I lose sight of an eternal perspective. But this quote from Martin Luther on Justin Taylor’s blog brought me fresh encouragement today. It is written to fathers but applies all the more to us moms:
Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason . . . , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores. . . ?” [LW 45:39]
What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight. . . . God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling—not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith.[LW 45:39-40]
You keep sending us so many inspiring 5 O’Clock Club testimonies, we just have to keep posting them. This one is from Kat:
As I write, I am wrapping up my morning meeting with the Lord. In ten minutes, the oldest of my 3 small children will come bounding into the office where I have been studying and praying. Like many others that have written to you, I enjoy the warm comforts of my bed and do not enjoy getting out of it! A few weeks ago I clicked onto your blog and as I began to read the stories of women rising early and carving out that time in their day, it made me cry. I struggle with finding time to study and pray—for years my husband has been gently encouraging me to wake up early to do this, but for some reason I couldn’t do it until I saw the stories of other mothers that were doing it. Not only is it such a blessing throughout my day to have my eyes and heart fixed on Christ from the start, it is such a blessing for my five year old son to sneak up behind me each morning and see an open Bible on my lap; he usually pulls down his illustrated Bible and cuddles up with me for a few minutes. My prayer is that he would remember these times throughout his life and make it a tradition of his own! I am prone to inconsistency, so even as I write, I am praying that this will become a lifelong habit. Thank you for sharing your club and for encouraging a even a sleepy sinner like me study and pray when I would usually be in bed!