Okay, confession: I have recently discovered or rather acknowledged that I have little to no patience for timid or weak minded individuals. Pray for me – in all seriousness – because I need to work around my low regard and figure out how to effectively minister to such individuals within my sphere.
Let me be clear here, I am not talking about the average person who falls into sin and struggles out again. I’m talking about the person who is tormented in sin and lies there and accepts the torment as their due – primarily because they can’t envision anything else. Or the person who doesn’t cultivate their faith, but leans on what they are told about their faith. Or worst yet, the person with no faith at all.
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:14 NLT
I had a conversation with a woman some time ago who was speaking about how her night terrors were so bad, she rarely slept. They had been going on for so long she said she had basically adapted to not sleeping. It was just the way her life was – when the terrors came there was no sleep and that was “okay.”
I pieced together her story from several hours of group conversation. Towards the end of the gathering I turned to her and said, “May I ask if you’re Christian?”
“No, I’m not. I’m Jewish.”
“Where does the Torah stop in the Old Testament?”
She gave me a blank stare. “I’m thinking of some scripture to share with you,” I went on, “in Psalms, but I’m not sure if the Torah covers Psalms.”
“It doesn’t, it’s the first five books of the Old Testament, I think, but I don’t study the Torah.”
“In that case a scripture that helped me a great deal when I had fears was 2 Timothy 1:7, ‘God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind.’”
She shook her head at me as I spoke and told me in so many words, “I am not receiving what you’re saying. I understand it may have worked for you, but I am okay with where I am. I’m not interested in what you’re speaking to me. I’m not interested in being fixed. I’m okay how I am.”
Let me tell you, that had to be the first time I approached someone I had just met in an unfamiliar environment and tried to provide them with a healing word. And it so happened that it was the first time I got shot down in mid-word for my efforts! I was stunned. And I struggled to not be offended. Belief is a choice. Faith is a choice. Accepting God’s Word is a choice. I can’t be upset with how others choose, but I couldn’t help but think of the setting we were in at that moment.
It was a potluck with interfaith individuals at the home of a common associate. Throughout the afternoon we had discussed Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, various forms of holistic care, faith practices and histories as well as lifestyle behaviors and opinions. I sat with very little to moderate comment through most of that, but the one time I uttered scripture I got shut down. In the next breath she said she enjoyed visiting churches, especially Episcopal churches – they were so pretty…. And she was still looking for faith practice that would work for her…. I wanted to ask her if she realized the Episcopal Church was a denomination of Christianity, but I let it go….
I think what stunned me most about this encounter was how some people are really eager to try any and every thing in the name of religion or “spirituality”, but they aren’t willing to even LISTEN to the pure, unaltered Word of God. They aren’t willing to LEARN it. And it’s in the Word that we find true life.
So, needless to say, I was flabbergasted. Here was someone who aggressively rejected the Word of God as it was spoken to her, yet felt comfortable speaking about walking into buildings dedicated to His worship. There was a huge disconnect to me. I didn’t feel right for the remainder of the conversation. I still don’t feel right when I think about her and that conversation. So, I repeat my request: pray for me that I have patience and grace in dealing with the truly lost souls, the timid and weak and underdeveloped souls – those stumbling in a darkness they consider to be self-awareness, but is as far from true awareness as the east is from the west.
At some point the woman looped back to my comment about “when I had fears.” She looked at me sideways (we were seated on a two-seater sofa), “Surely you still have fears?”
Shaking my head, “Not one I can think of right now.”
“Spiders? Aren’t you scared of spiders?”
I laughed. “I’m not scared of spiders. I don’t like them. There’s a difference. I will kill them if I have to, but I’m not scared of them. I can’t think of anything that I fear so much that I can’t sleep. I confronted all the fears I had – in my waking life and my dream life.”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” ~ Mark 4: 39-41
Before that night, I had never met anyone who was so miserable in their life AND so comfortable in their terror that they preferred that misery and terror over change – over speaking over their own life, simply because they couldn’t envision their life any other way. Therefore, their constant terror was “okay.”
That is not God’s way, nor is it His preference for our state of being. If you are extremely timid and weak-minded, know that you only need enough strength and courage to trust in the Lord. He carries you from there.
I tell you truthfully, as I learn God’s Word, I learn His will for my life. Within His will, He outlines how we should live, what thoughts we should keep and what type of outlook we should have. He explicitly tells us that He did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power. He tells us that our measure of joy will overflow in our lives. He tells us that the tiniest bit of faith will move mountains. But even if that is difficult to grasp, He tells us that He loves us and will never leave us. Having that knowledge in my spirit allows me to walk tall in the darkest streets and speak up in the largest crowds. If my God is for me, what does it matter what is coming against me? I’m already a conqueror. I am already victorious. Being afraid of anything diminishes God’s power in my life. My God is indeed mighty to save and I shall fear no evil!
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ~ Psalm 23:1-6
Get that into your spirit! Know it! Believe it! Live it!
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” ~ Zephaniah 3:16-17 NLT
“Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” ~ Zephaniah 3:16-17 NIV