Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Spirit of Power

In the last few days, there were a number of bombs that went off in several places throughout Thailand, namely in resort and tourist areas (e.g. not close to us). BBC has been covering the story quite well - if you haven't heard, but would like to know more details, you can read the story on their website at . 

These bombings are not the first that have happened in Thailand in our time here. But it is easy to let situations like this instill fear into our hearts. Fear for our lives. Fear for the future. Fear of the pain that we might experience should we hypothetically be caught in a similar situation sometime in our lives. 

Bombings are not the only thing that give me this sense of fear. Media coverage of any violent act, including shootings in the United States where I currently do not reside, instill this same fear. Hearing stories of kids having accidents and breaking limbs puts fear into my heart for Gerrit's safety. Watching too many episodes of Chicago Fire sends warnings off in my head which have reverberated so strongly that I've woken from nightmares a couple of times, terrified that a fire has started and that my family won't be safe. 

Fear is real. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is overwhelming and debilitating and so very hard to overcome.

Is it any wonder that the Evil One uses fear as a tool in our lives? It is a tool that draws us further and further from our Creator, leading us down dark paths and keeping us from being able to see and shine the light. 

I've had this verse running through my head for the past week, since a friend of ours was injured in an accident that left us (who were not involved in the accident) feeling shaken and afraid. The verse is 2 Timothy 1:7, but I'm going to copy a few of the surrounding verses for context:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed..."
Paul is the writer here and is sending the letter to Timothy. Paul was chained in prison in Rome, and did not have hope to be released. Yet he writes this letter to encourage Timothy to remain faithful and to carry on the message of hope and grace that he has been given.

Verse 7 always gets me: "...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." Paul, a prisoner, encourages Timothy, a free man, to not be afraid. To remember that the Spirit within him is powerful. To continue preaching the good news no matter what, because he has been called to 'a holy calling' by God's grace. 

We have this same Spirit within us today. This Spirit is not fear. It is power, love, and self-control. This is a Spirit that defeats fear. This is a Spirit that changes lives. This is a Spirit that calls people to believe, and share what they believe, that others might believe too. This is a Spirit that calls us to share in the suffering of others and willingly suffer for the gospel. 

Sometimes I forget that this Spirit is within me. I get too caught up in my own desires, especially the one where I hope and wish that everyone (including my students) will like me. That is my fear when it comes to sharing my beliefs: what if the things I say make someone lose respect for me? Or what if they don't listen? Or what if I talk about what I believe for so long that they no longer want to spend time in my presence? Or what if they get angry and argue with me? Or what if (and this is the response that breaks my heart the most) they just don't care? 

This Spirit is not timid. Looking back on my life, the moments where I know the Spirit was speaking through me are the moments when I said things the most boldly, when I talked about what I believed plainly and without effort. All of those moments were good. I was not afraid. I was not wondering what other people were thinking. I was speaking and acting in faith, knowing that God would use the moment and the words and the actions for His glory in someone's life. 

Don't live in fear. Fear debilitates you. It causes you to fight against the Spirit of power, against love and against self control. Instead, walk in the Light, in fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7), doing what you have been called to do with confidence that the Spirit will work through you in every situation. 

This is the message that has been mulling in the back of my mind for myself this week, and in light of the status of the world, I thought it might be good to share it with others.

Let go of your fear. Live in the Light.

Blessings to you all.

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