Only Believe – Mark 5:21-37

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I tasted bitter dirt and grit between my teeth. My face covered in sand. I pushed my body back to its feet. To keep running. Fast as the wind.

Everything ached. I was no longer the picture of athleticism as I was in my youth. The years had made way for a rounder belly and more mature physique. But that day called for a return of the fitness of my youth; muscles unused and almost forgotten were at full capacity. I was on a mission. To save my baby’s life.

Crowds started to build. I pushed past friends and members of the synagogue. What did they think of me; running with my robe hitched above my knees?

I heard a man’s voice ask, “Is that Jarius?”

“No,” replied a woman, “he would not barge past so aggressively.”

There was no time to explain. No time for niceties.

I forced my way through another group strolling toward the sea.

“Watch where you’re going will you?” Along with other words of abuse.

“That’s Jarius from the synagogue. Why is he rushing so?”

If only they knew. They would have understood.

My legs were burning; breath strained. My body wanted to give in. I could not let it. She could not die; my mind reeled at the thought and pushed me forward through the throng.

I reached the peak of the incline and paused to assess the valley. That was the first time I saw Him. The man who made blind men see and deaf ears hear. The man who called the lame to rise. Could he heal my daughter? My little one; love of my life.

I surged forward at a faster pace, but lost my footing once again, tasted dirt, and who knows what else. But with my eyes on the one they call Teacher I was invigorated. I pressed on as though angels carried me toward Him.

Jesus wandered through the crowd smiling and engaging everyone. He left no one out. Pure love and compassion radiated His being.

I was far off but closing the gap. Teacher glanced up from the child on His arms and gazed into the distance – at me. It was as though He saw me; saw my pain. In His glance I knew everything was going to work out.

With renewed hope and energy I thrust myself through the crowd of a least one thousand. I heard murmurings of, “Wait your turn,” but pressed on. They would have done the same in my shoes; if they had left their only daughter pale and still. Nothing could stop me from getting to the man who would save her life.

With the Teacher in my grasp, I lunged forward and fell at His feet. But the journey was far from over.

I looked up. Compassion and love held my gaze. I was overwhelmed and reassured – everything would alright. He knew my plea before I uttered a word.

“My daughter,” I stammered amidst shortness of breath. “She is dying. Come.”

And with that, we were off. Slowly at first, because of the pressing crowd. I sped ahead to clear a path.

I ran for minutes before realising Jesus was no longer at my heels. He had stopped and was talking to a woman, her face to the ground; every now and then she looked up with tear stained face.

I raced back in frustration to join Jesus, oblivious to my own servants charging over the summit, shouting my name.

“Your faith has healed you. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

I stopped. I wanted to tell Jesus to hurry, that my daughter was near death, He should not waste time here. Instead tears of joy streamed down my cheeks. The atmosphere was electric. She was healed. She found her miracle. I hoped I had found mine.

“Jairus. Master Jairus.”

I was woken from my dream as I turned to see my personal aide heading toward me; his face ashen. Before he reached my side I knew what he would say.

I collapsed. Defeated. Broken. It was over. Her life was over. And so was mine.

My aide embraced my bent form; his tears flowed as heavy as mine.

“Oh, Master, she is gone. Gone. There is no need to bother the Teacher any more.”

We were so close, I thought it would be alright. I thought He would make her better. But He was too late. I was too late.

As I lay there on the ground sobbing I felt hands grip my cheeks and raise my head. It was the Teacher; His eyes like fire burnt into mine.

He spoke with power yet in a voice so soft only I could hear, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.”

The weight of death fell from my shoulders. He called His three closest confidants and we moved forward. But this time was different. Fear was not chasing me.

I believed. Everything would be alright.

When Water becomes a Firm Foundation

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Insecurity. The feeling of not being safe. On shaky ground. Unsure of the future.

And it comes from fear. Fear of hurt. Fear of being made to look the fool. Fear of abandonment.

Sometimes I feel insecure. I don’t know I where the insecurity has come from – I could over analyse, but it would only make matters worse. It is just there.

When life is plagued by insecurity I feel my house is collapsing. Like the foolish man, who built his house without a foundation. The winds come, the waves crash, and I crumble.

How unstoppable would I be if I could rid myself of insecurity in my year of no fear?

“Whoever listens to my teaching and follows it builds on a firm foundation,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:24).

Jesus. What He says. Follow.

I thought I did that?

The disciples were at sea. A storm emerged, tossing the boat, and terrifying the disciples. But Jesus was not far. He came to them on the water.

Matthew 14:27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Peter followed Jesus’ words. He had courage. He was not afraid. And stepped out of the boat.

In that moment, even water became a firm foundation.

Waves of fear crash around me. I feel insecure. I begin to sink.

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”

The words of Jesus replay in my mind.

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”

And whatever I am standing on becomes a firm foundation. I kick insecurity to the curb. I am unstoppable. I walk on water.

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” Jesus. Only Jesus.

Whatever I face, whatever the fear or insecurity – all I do is listen and follow. Then whatever I am standing on becomes a firm foundation. Miracles happen. Insecurity is ripped out from under me, and Jesus is there instead. Fear is swallowed and I am free. I am me.

And I am unstoppable.

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”

My Year of No Fear

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On the second day of the new year for me in Australia, after all the festivities died down, I read a post by Aliza Latta on incourage.me about her decision to make 2015 a year of no fear.

Women naturally fear more than men. It is ingrained in us as babes. We fear spiders and insects. We lock all the doors of our car when driving alone. We fear darkness. People comment, “Don’t be such a girl,” and you know what they’re talking about, right? Fear. Women are creatures of fear.

Then many women, who already fear more than the other half of the population, become mothers. And the fear increases. We don’t just fear for ourselves, we fear for our children. Mothers tend to call it worry because worry sounds endearing. But it’s not. It is insidious fear.

So slipping into both categories; I fear.

A lot.

Sometimes all day.

And I know I shouldn’t. I know God has not given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). I know the Lord is my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1). But I still fear.

No longer.

In my heart I began to deal with my fear of spiders, cockroaches and sharks (okay, so I’m not totally over that one yet -Jaws has a lot to answer for). But within minutes, it was apparent this surface fear was but the tip of the iceburg. Fear had a deeper grip on my life than I recognised. While God wanted to rid me of everyday fear and worry, He also wanted to deal with deeper issues.

Sometimes relationships with other people are driven by fear. We read into what people say because we fear getting hurt, or we fear we will lose what we have.

Sometimes marriage is sabotaged by fear. Thoughts of doubt take over the mind. And a love is tainted, when it should be perfected.

Sometimes dreams are killed by fear. What if I fail? Dreams killed. Right there.

Sometimes hope is lost because of fear. Robbed one day at a time, as change never happens, miracles never surface. And in walk abandonment and pain.

My life overshadowed by fear. No more.

So…

When relationship sirens go off in my head screaming, “Warning, warning. Protect yourself, protect yourself,” I will love, because perfect love expels all fear (1 John 4:18).

When I fear for my marriage, I will hop off the train, for our love is as strong as death (Song of Songs 8:6).

When my dreams scare me I will remind myself that I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).

When I feel as though nothing is ever going to change, I will choose hope because the hope of the godly will be granted (Proverbs 10:24).

At the end of my rope, I will believe. I will hold on. I will not give up.

Joshua 1:9 Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Jesus is with me. Me. Whom shall I fear?

Fear will not have the better of me in 2015. I choose to reverse my gender-stereotype. This is my year of no fear.

Should it be yours? Will you lock the door on fear? Will you refuse to feed doubt? Search the Bible to find scriptures that counteract your fear struggle.

And join me. Let’s rid our lives of fear.
Hit reply or comment if this is your year of no fear. I’d love to hear from you. (Aliza might like to hear from you too.)

Frustrated? Bursting? Sounds like it’s time for a New Wineskin

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I know why forty is the new thirty. Because for the past few years I have felt like I did at the end of my twenties: finding myself. The struggle of being comfortable in my own skin. Discovering who I am.

I wrestled. I walked with a limp. But I hit thirty and I knew who I was. Relaxed in myself. Confident. I could conquer the world.

Then I became a mother. And it was like my old self did not fit. It wasn’t just the pre-pregnancy clothing. It was the pre-pregnancy me. Like a snake shedding its skin, I shed the non-mother me, and once again engaged in the battle to find myself. Find myself as a mother. And a wife. And a woman.

Mark 2:22 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”

I always thought new wineskins related to the church. To things like revival and relevancy. I never thought it applied to me.

All of me.

But it did.

You can’t put new wine in old skin.

The joy and experience of children was certainly new wine. And for a while I was trying to fit it into the old me. The old wineskin of who I was. But it didn’t work. I kept bursting.

I thought it was me. I thought I could not cope. I thought I was a failure. It was my old wineskin.

I knew motherhood would change me. I knew I would leave the birthing suite a different woman, but I never thought it would be like starting over. Navigating myself in the midst of dirty nappies and sleepless nights. The insecure girl of long ago resurfaced. I could not understand why.

But I was becoming new. A beautiful new wine skin. It was taut. Somehow not as flexible with new responsibilities.

And possibilities.

Oh, the possibilities.

But I did it. I emerged from the cocoon, a new wineskin, ready for new wine. My old skin served me well, but it had to give way to new skin. New, yet slightly-more-wrinkled-with-dark-circles-under-my-eyes skin.

I have come to see this is not the only time in my life I will change wineskins. There will be more. But perhaps now I will be prepared. I will recognise the need to change, not resist, and embrace new skin. Well, we can only hope.

This is the new me. The new wineskin. Fresh-faced to enjoy the new wine of my life. Confident. Unafraid. Kinda like the pre-baby me, only better.

For a slightly different version of this post, read my Crosswalk article titled, 4 Lessons for Navigating the Seasons of Life.

The Pep-talk You Need to Hear

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Proverbs 31:31 (MSG) Give her everything she deserves.

I am guessing you read the above Scripture and bowed your head in shame.

Oh, no, not me. I don’t deserve anything.

But you do, sweet child of God. You so do.

If you have been reading along with Make Yourself Amazing, you will know you are an amazing creature, deserving of praise and accolades.

Yeah, I know, there are lots of haters out there, who want to pull you down and remind you of your failings. But not here. Not God. Not me. I will always tell you you are amazing. Because God says, and because you are.

So as we conclude Make Yourself Amazing month, let me leave you with what I believe about you, and hope you believe about yourself:

When you think back to your school days, can you remember the kid who seemed to be good at everything? The one who was good at every kind of sport, who excelled academically, and was also musical? Even though you wanted to hate him, you could not because he was so nice.

Now that person is you! You are the envy of all your friends because you are gracious, handle stress appropriately, excel at whatever you put your hand to, and you make it all look fun!

Celebrate life! When challenges come; persevere and stay true to your vision. What you see is temporary. Things will get better. On days when you don’t feel quite so amazing, hold tight to the promise and realization that you are. You’re amazing. You deserve the best of everything!

Proverbs 31, and consequently Make Yourself Amazing, crescendos at this point. Receive, accept, and embrace what you deserve: greatness, success, love, friendships, excellence, happiness, and all the magnificent things of life. This is your moment to shine. You are amazing, my friend, and an incredible life is what you deserve.