A preacher said something this week that stuck with me (link to the sermon will be on the bottom of the page). She said, there were areas of our lives where we have removed our expectation (faith) for God to do anything. These are the barren lands we do not even pray about because we have resigned ourselves to a future that looks no different from the present and the past. This is the place where nothing grows – not faith, not hope, not joy, not miracles, signs or wonders.
For me, it would the areas of my life where I would say things such as “it is what it is.” And resign myself to the fact that nothing can ever change about it. It is easier for me to embrace a reality that looks bleak, and make peace with the fact that this is what my life is going to look like, than to continue to hope for more and be disappointed over and over again. I can handle the sameness of never having more. I do not do well with raised expectations only to have them repeatedly shattered.
A decade into dating, my relationships were the “footpaths” in my life – the place that was once fertile ground but had been trampled so often by others than nothing could grow anymore. My outlook on relationships was damaged. I no longer prayed about them. I was convinced that God was not interested in my relationships anyway. He had bigger fish to fry. So, if I wanted to get married, it was left up to me to figure out the best option and just go from there. After God healed my understanding of relationships and I did eventually marry, the footpath changed.
It was no longer relationships; it was my career. I had prayed and fasted about my career for many years without seeing a change. After almost ten years of believing for more, only to end up with less than I had in the years before, I once again concluded that God did not care about my career. He cared if I was a good wife, mother, friend and disciple, but my career was mine to figure out. He had bigger fish to fry than whether or not I could get a job. So, I stopped praying about it. I removed my expectation that I could ever have the professional success that I saw my colleagues enjoy. It was not in the cards for me. Years of applying, and being rejected, feeling overlooked, and inadequate had me convinced that “this is just what it is.” I was destined to be one of those women who did not work because she could not find a good job. God used my husband to heal that fear of failure and success for me. Before long, seeds began to germinate and grow in that area as well.
Then the footpath changed again.
The most recent footpath I have discovered in my life is anxiety or worry. For as long as I can remember, I have always been the “worrier.” I plan things to worry about for the future. My mind is never not working and thinking and calculating and making readjustments. Caring for two toddlers with ongoing appointments for school, doctors, dentists, extra-curricular activities and so forth means there is always something to “not forget.” Managing our household schedule, budget, finances, vacations, doctors appointments, after-school care plans and such means that my wheels are always turning. If I do not keep the machine that is the Odedere Household moving along, it could all come crashing down in disaster. There is always something to think (or worry) about. Because of the mental load of thinking for myself, my sons and my husband a majority of the time, worry and anxiety became the norm. As I solved one thing, my mind would move on to the next concern. On and on like that until everything had a solution. If there was no solution in sight, then concern became worry, worry grew to anxiety and the anxiety became a paralyzing fear that made each of my limbs feel like they weighed a ton. When that fear becomes a behemoth (larger than life), I would run to prayer. I would cry out to God for relief since all of my own efforts had failed me. Even as I prayed about it, I would worry. Would God really take care of it? What if this was one of those times where He wanted something awful to happen to me so I could grow from it? (This is bad theology by the way.)
I have operated with this kind of fear and anxiety for all of my walk with Christ. I figured “this is just my personality/I am just a worrier.” I have never expected anything to change about how I operated in the world. I am just naturally anxious. God made me that way, did He not? I did not recognize this paralyzing fear as a footpath until the panic attack that happened in February.
Since then, God has been challenging my default settings as a worrier. It turns out that my fear is not just “how things are.” It was an area I had allowed the enemy to infiltrate and take over because I had never thought to pray against fear (fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown). I thought fear was a human response and there was nothing to be done about it other than just to ride the waves and hope the feeling passes sooner rather than later. I was fully prepared to live the entirety of my life being afraid (or worried) about one thing or another.
It is what it is, right? This is just how I operated.
Until God started showing me that this is a footpath. Fear had me in a stronghold for so many decades, it has taken me this long to realize that I was not always afraid. Up until a certain point in my life, I was actually pretty bold and fearless. And even in my faith in Christ, I am bold in so many other ways especially when it comes to the situations of others. But when I am the one that is under attack, instead of faith rising as it does on behalf of others, fear is my first response.
But God is changing my life in real time. As we speak, seeds of faith that have been sown on this particular “footpath” are beginning to germinate. This is no longer barren land where the enemy can introduce any thought or situation and cause me to fly off the handle. My faith is growing by leaps and bounds, and for the first time in my thirty-six years, I am fully convinced that fear does not have to be my default response to the arrows of the enemy.
When attacks are mounted, more and more, I see myself rising up filled with righteous indignation, inspired by the Holy Spirit and fighting-mad at the enemy of my soul that he would dare raise up such an underhanded “sneak attack” against a child of God. What an insult to the Heavenly Father who goes before me and girds me all around!
Literally, satan how dare you?
As I continue my walk with God, I know He will continue to show me the “footpaths” or patches of wilderness in and around my life, the places where I have wrongly concluded that God cannot touch or change. I look forward to the day when my entire life is the lush garden that my Creator has in mind, each flowering field yielding fruit by the tens, fifties and hundred.
I look forward to the day when there would be no such place in my life where nothing grows.
(Sermon Series: Crazy Faith Part 5- Daily Faith – Brie Davis – Transformation Church) – Get it here!