Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What's Your Knee-Jerk Reaction?

Our fun-loving almost 17-mo-old toddler has started a new thing. When she doesn’t get her way or has a different idea about something, she sits down or lays down and throws a bit of a fit. It is both cute (she’s got that pouty lip, tilted head, and fake tears)—and not, so we’ve recently begun trying to teach her “that’s not how Brandenburgs act.”

Her reaction is so innate, knee-jerk almost, and yet, I’m amazed at how quickly she can change her attitude with a little correction (or our ignoring the little fit). It’s like she jumps up, realizes this is not the way to be, and moves on, happy to play with another toy.

I’ve been thinking about my own knee-jerk reactions I pick up without thinking. I told you that my word this year is Freedom, and as I have sought the Lord to understand what areas in my life I’m experiencing bondage, he has been faithful to show me place after place in my heart that needs to be free.

When I am in bondage to fear, I am not free to live the full and rich life that Christ intended.

Sometimes fear can have other words to describe it like worry or anxiety, and I’m finding that these are my knee-jerk reactions. I pick up worry before I even know it, and I’m sitting in a fit of anxiety before I’ve thought through why I would be anxious when the King of heaven and earth fights for me, provides for me, loves me.

Through my little toddler, the Lord has been showing me, that’s not how the daughter of the King acts. Not when she knows who she is in Christ. Not when she knows who her Heavenly Father is.

I have been meditating on two verses lately: One is from Proverbs 31—and all of us know this woman as the epitome of women, right? It says in verse 25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

The other verse is Psalm 112:6-7: “For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.”

So I’ve been thinking about both of these—what would it look like to laugh without fear of the future? What does it mean to never be moved? To never be afraid of bad news? That’s a deep, deep level of trust, right?

What I was thinking about specifically for this post today is the fear of lack or insufficiency. This can be about financial provision, but I was thinking about it more practically for my everyday tasks.

I’m at the end of the semester, which means I’ve got final papers and projects and grades pouring in. And my stress level begins to rise higher and higher.

When I feel myself start to get overwhelmed with work, when I start giving in to that anxiety, I have noticed that really that overwhelmed feeling or stressed out feeling is just a fear of lack.

Lack of time. Lack of mental capacity. Lack of patience. Lack of motivation.

And anytime I’m operating out of a mentality of lack, I’m operating out of fear because I’m making an agreement in my mind that God is not sufficient. That he doesn’t own time. That he doesn’t give me grace and strength and mental capacity. That patience and self-control aren’t fruits of His spirit.

But He is sufficient. And He does own time. And He does give me grace and strength and His own mind, even. Through His Holy Spirit, He has given me love and peace and patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and yes, even self-control.

So as we enter the busy months of April and May, if you’re struggling with the overwhelm of it all, like me, I hope we can practice pausing for a second, recognizing fear for what it is, and choosing instead to walk freely in His truth and His power and His life.

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