Friday, July 22, 2011

A spirit of love, power, self-discipline

I woke up in the middle of the night to go pee. It's not a terribly uncommon occurrence, but for me, it can often bring up the kind of anxious thoughts and feelings that seem to strike particularly deep long after the sun has gone down.

It wasn't even like I had prayed or asked God for comfort -- the thought was simply there, the second I was roused from sleep in the middle of the night. "I have not given you a spirit of fear."

It wasn't even a complete verse. I know I should remember the rest of it, and vaguely knew that it was in one of the Timothys, but it took me getting into the office to pick up my Bible and read through the rest of it. For that hour last night, laying in bed, mind racing, that was what I had to hold onto: "I have not given you a spirit of fear."

Mired as I had been in anxiety, I kept wondering: Then what is the spirit you have given me? You say it isn't one of fear, but perhaps I just got a raw deal. Maybe I'm not quite good enough to have actually inherited this spirit. It's probably one of those things that really wonderful, mostly sinless people experience, but that will sort of haunt me for now because on my worst days I feel that I am composed of fear, and not much more.

It's funny what seems like it makes sense to us at two in the morning -- what feels real, what our minds believe, what we tell ourselves. And if it was just at two in the morning, it wouldn't matter a whole lot. But this hour was just a sort of continuation of the kind of thinking that I can build up over days and months and years. I deserve a spirit of fear, I'll tell myself, because I don't trust in God enough or pray enough or read the Bible enough.

But I kept coming back to those words at two o'clock this morning, and at two-thirty, and three, and on and on until I finally fell back asleep. And the more that I heard them, the more that I knew, and know, that they are true. I think that God gave me those words as I stumbled bleary-eyed to the bathroom so that I could know, deep down to the marrow of my being, that my spirit was not a spirit of fear at that moment, and would not be a spirit of fear when I woke, or when I went to work, or at any other moment as long as I should live with him.

Our spirits are not meant to be fearful, but so often we live out of fear. So often, we make decisions that are motivated by fear - fear of failure, of the future, of being uncomfortable, of not being perceived well - and not out of the fact that we are loved by the creator of the universe, a fact which should give us all the confidence we need when it comes to failure, the future, comfort, perception.

Today, I am going to give these words as much credence as any words I have ever believed:

"For this reason, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that 
is within you through the laying on of my hands; 
for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, 
but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." 
2 Timothy 1:6-7

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