If have in my right hand, direct from my home office, today’s category: Top ten things I (Jim) am giving up for Lent
10. Kidney stones
8. “Reality” TV
7. Body piercing (other than the usual household repair accidents)
6. Multi-level marketing schemes
5. Conspiracy theories
4. Golf pants
3. Rap music
2. Political correctness
Seriously, though, I did try to give up dark chocolate for Lent. In all my life, I’ve never had a worse 40 minutes!) This year, I’m attempting to give up something even more near and dear to me: fear.
As a self-employed freelance author and speaker, fear has been a constant companion. In Freelance Land, it’s always “feast or famine”! So, while fear is an occupational hazard, Jesus claims it’s a spiritual hazard. Twenty-one times, the Gospels record Jesus telling His followers to “not be afraid” or “not fear” or “have courage” or “take heart” or “be of good cheer.” Twenty-one times! The “Greatest Commandment” to love God and our neighbors only gets eight mentions. So, by
numbers alone, “fear not” is also a pretty great commandment.
Fear indicates I’m not trusting God
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you
that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of
the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of
little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 5:28-32).
Fear requires as much effort as trust
Fear is an emotional black hole that attempts to not only swallow up peace and joy, but energy and creativity. So, I’m trying to expend my energy on trust rather than fear, since both require the same effort.
Fear borrows trouble from tomorrow
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 5:34).
Tomorrow, it looks like I don’t have any paying work. Today, however, I have meaningful work. Today I have money in the bank and bills are paid. Today I’m healthy.
One of the best pieces of advice from the best-selling book Jesus Calling is to keep the door to tomorrow shut tight.
So, on this Ash Wednesday, I’m giving up fear. It’s going to be harder than giving up dark chocolate, but I’m praying for God’s strength and grace to give it up for forty plus days. And, hopefully, make it a life-long lifestyle.
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