Archives For fear

“I’m praying about it” is the “LOL” of pious church goers. You rarely mean it, but it makes you feel lighter. Releases the nervous tension.

LOL is the digital garnish of text messaging and social media. Come on, you’ve never really LOL’d have you? Admit it. It’s a verbal ruse, like “The check’s in the mail,” or “It’s not you, it’s me.” (Hint: it’s always you).

“I’m praying about it” (or IPAI) is usually just another incarnation of these lingual gymnastics.

I’ll admit, I’ve fabricated a few “IPAIs” in my day. A few that probably had God tagging His own status update with a ROFLOL.

Let’s be honest, we don’t pray enough. As long as circumstances don’t become too big for us to handle, we’re happy to plunge fully into the day’s opportunities with little acknowledgment of our need for supernatural intervention. No problem, I got this.

Yet when the answers are obvious but scary (or maybe just costly), we’re quick to 180 and use prayer as the ultimate Jon Acuff Jesus Juke for justifying our inaction.

Confession:

Sometimes I use prayer as my excuse for being a coward.

Sometimes I need to stop praying about it and just go do it.

Start the business. Give the money. Have the difficult conversation. Volunteer the time. Quit the job. Go on the trip. Make the tough call.

These things always require prayer, submission, and surrender. But they also demand massive amounts of courage. Don’t get caught using prayer as an excuse to be a coward. Sometimes God has already made the answer clear and it’s simply time to find the guts to act.

(LOL)

How about you?  Have you ever used IPAI as justification for not doing what you need to do?

I am a recovering coward. Don’t believe me? Check out the caption below my picture over there on the right. It’s true.

And some days I still fall of the wagon and find myself subconsciously living the coward’s creed:

Indecisiveness is next to godliness.

(We’ve got t-shirts, bumper stickers, even a website in the works. Well, the ideas anyway. We’re too nervous to actually launch them.)

(OK, honestly, there’s not really even a club. We couldn’t figure out where to meet).

I hate making decisions. Making decisions inevitably irritates people. Making decisions creates conflict. Conflict means people may not like you. And people not liking you is painful. We instinctively avoid pain, because pain…you know…hurts and all.

The only problem? No one said following Jesus would be painless. Just ask, well…

Jesus.

Climb back up on that wagon.

Any other recovering cowards out there? What are you afraid of? Does it ever interfere with your ability to follow Jesus?

I’d love to hear from you. Maybe even meet for coffee (if we can ever decide on a location). Until then, the comments on this post may be a safe place to start.

Mandy and I have been watching the Egyptian political crisis with extraordinary interest. Her name is printed on a plane ticket scheduled to leave all too shortly for this volatile area of the world, where military tanks roam the streets like minivans as protesters violently clash with the Mubarak regime.

Surreal.

When I think of Egypt, my mind effortlessly conjures up images of camels, pyramids, and Yule Brenner. But my wife is (was?) heading there to encounter the effects of extreme poverty. To work with people who have literally built a community among the city trash dumps. (This story may help you re-frame the romanticism and understand a small piece of the unrest).

Now it appears the only Egyptian flights any Americans will be taking are out of the country. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Admittedly, I probably understand as much about the Egyptian political environment as I do about fixing my furnace, and the last thing we need is another ignorant American spouting his opinions about a global crisis he only thinks he understands.

But something hit me square in the face as I watch this unfold. Something that hits close to home. In me.

Control, fear, and manipulation won’t work forever.

Yet our human nature is to control. To demand our way. To gain power and then preserve it. To manipulate the behavior of others from the outside-in.

We see it in governments. In businesses. In churches. In families. In every kind of human interaction.

What we’re watching unfold in Egypt is ugly. It makes us angry. And rightly so. But at its root is something that resides in us all. A sinful desire to hold all the marbles.

Which is probably why Jesus’ example is all the more mind blowing. That the Son of God, at the pinnacle of His earthly influence, would give up His power. Lay down His life. Relinquish control. In fact, it was in letting go of Himself that He actually changed the world forever.

Maybe Mubarak should learn a little something from Jesus.

Maybe I should, too.

Lonely is at Least Safe

Erik Cooper —  November 29, 2010 — 3 Comments

You must risk what you fear the most, to gain what you long for the most.

It’s a truth any entrepreneur understands. But it’s reality for all of us.  Risk to gain. I’m especially awakening to this in the area of relationships.  Even my closest ones.

We all long for deep connection.  To know and be known. It’s hard-wired into our DNA, evident since Adam and Eve walked naked in the Garden of Eden.  Man was created to be real, exposed, authentic (“I’m out there, Jerry, and I’m loving every minute of it!”).

With each other.

With God.


But sin created a gap, and like Adam and Eve we cover up.  The essence of our true selves still (somewhat) there, but shrouded to expose only the “acceptable” parts. The partial me.  The pieces I want you to see.

Because the rest brings shame. The rest becomes a target for judgment and ridicule. And who can blame us? We have a history of destroying one another through exposed weakness. So stay covered.  Stay hidden. Lonely is at least safe.

And therein lies the risk.

You long to be known as you really are. In all your weaknesses. All your insecurities. All your fears. That’s a risk, and risk means it may not work out like you planned.  In fact, it may not work out at all.

But are you willing to risk what you fear the most, to gain what you long for the most?

When I was a kid I was terrified to go to sleep at night. The blue-green light of my clock radio cast just enough eerie shadows on the walls to bring my vivid imagination to life.

(You remember that rash outbreak of Russian thugs that broke into the bedrooms of 10 year old suburban kids back in the mid-80’s, right? Stupid Cold War.)

So I developed a little habit.

Every night I situated the blankets and pillows on my bed in such a way that my face was securely insulated in its own private hideout. An impenetrable fortress of cotton sheets and down stuffing with just enough opening for my nostrils to suck in the cool night air. No malcontent Soviets were breaking through this blockade.

As irrational as it was, somehow it made me feel…

…safe.

Fast forward a quarter century.

Just last night, I awoke submerged in a hideout of bed linens like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Flashback to 1986! And even though I’m old enough to know KGB spies aren’t repelling down our aluminum siding to steal my Facebook login, it reawakened that childhood sense of covering and security I felt being buried beneath a layer of blankets and pillows.

Ridiculous right?

No one really believes that a few thin layers of bedding would act as valid protection from Kremlin assassins. But my little self-made fictional fortress helped me create the illusion (at least in my mind).

I’m still really good at building “hideouts.”

Controlling environments.

Avoiding conflicts.

Sidestepping uncomfortable conversations.

Pushing off the difficult decisions.

(FYI: “I’m praying about it” is always a good one if you’re looking for a “spiritual sounding” cover up).

And just like my pointless shelter of pillows and blankets, these “strongholds” are just false illusions of security.

Every time I hole up in my own man-made sentinel, I trade in the opportunity to be truly hidden away I choose self-protection over God’s protection. What an absurd exchange.  After all, do I really need protecting if I’m not even out there where it’s actually dangerous?

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8)

But getting there requires the courage to throw off the covers and risk the threat of those imaginary Russian spies. Let’s face it, sometimes it feels riskier to trade in our fake protection for the real thing. We run from harmless shadows instead of finding true refuge in the shadow of the Almighty.

Maybe it’s time to come out from under the covers?