One honestly fearful step

Light, space, zest—that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing... I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. (Psalm 27:1, 13)

Begin with God, and we will surely end well! I wonder what could happen within our days if we'd make a conscious effort to begin with God and then at the end of the day begin to recount the things of our day in the light of what he brought us through, showed us, and even kept us from experiencing some harshness just because of his awesome oversight? Beginnings often differ from endings, do they not? Some of us begin quite well, ending with less than stellar performance. Others begin on a little bit of a shaky footing but somehow end pretty well considering how we began. One thing I believe God wants for us is the certainty of beginning well AND the reward of ending well. If we consider there is a whole lot of "in between" wedged in the middle of the beginning and ending, we might just get a little discouraged with the process, but the truth is, begin well and we stand a whole lot better chance of dealing with the "in between" within a different frame of reference!

One of the things which frequently keeps us from even beginning is the fear of what lays ahead. When we know who protects our life, we have less grounds to fear the unknown we call the "in between". We are more likely to take the first step when we feel well-protected and what better way to feel well-protected than to put our hands in the one who commands the Angel Armies! The goodness of God is what keeps us as we face the "in between". His nature is always what we call good - meaning his plans will be nothing but good, making his actions consistently good toward mankind, and declaring his outcomes overwhelmingly good. Most of us get hung up with the "bad" we see in this world, thinking God must be "handing out" bad stuff. Truth is - bad exists because we have a free will - we all have the opportunity of choice, and we don't always make the right ones. Mankind can choose to either live out the "in between" by making good choices or determining to make all the ones which result in nothing but bad outcomes. When we choose the latter, we see the worst in people. When we choose the former, we have the opportunity to see little bits of God's goodness on display.

We know things about our choices that we honestly think no one else sees - we think we have insulated those choices so well that they are never on display for others to see. Try as we might, little "hints" of our choices are constantly creeping through. We can say we are not fearless - stepping out in what seems like boldness and extreme courage - but wherever choice exists, there is always an element of fear. It is human nature to experience "fear" whenever faced with the unknown. It may only be a little apprehension manifest on the surface, but deep inside, there is something pretty overwhelming about the unknown (the in between). This is why it is so important for us to begin well. God already knows our uncertainty and the deeper sense we have of feeling overwhelmed with our "in between". Since he does, isn't it pretty comical for us to try to convince ourselves, others, and even HIM that the unknown doesn't bother us? I'd like us to accept a challenge today - to begin to be honest with God about what it is we fear the most. This is a pretty big challenge for those who like to "put their best foot forward", even with God. I think there is great wisdom in admitting we are afraid of the "in between" - especially to God! What we are willing to bring to him he stands at the ready to accept as an opportunity to reveal something about himself which we might not experience otherwise. God does more with an honest confession and an open heart than he does with false confidence and prideful first steps! He can do more with an honestly fearful first step than hundreds of prideful ones!

If we read the "in between" of this Psalm, we will observe many "ups and downs" of the writer's heart, mind, and spirit. Bullies are bearing down on him, but he will play it cool. The world around him is bombarding him with all kinds of noise, but he will choose to filter it out by contemplating the goodness of the one he serves. Others are trying to pull him down, but he chooses to march ahead, rise above, and allow praise to carry him through the opposition. The temptations around him have "loud voices", but he will respond only to the "whisper" of God's which comes from deep within him. Family doesn't even appear to be loyal, but he has never experienced abandon from the one to whom he has committed his life. He is dogged by enemies on every side who spout words of taunting and terror, but his determination is to allow God to answer their taunts and threats. I am sure he feels a little like the "in between" wants to keep him from making the first steps but look at his response each and every time. He is confident in the one who stands above the rest - he knows the one in whom he has placed his trust - and he stands determined to face the "in between" with the confidence of one who is protected on all sides. Looking at these few verses, we see he addresses the things which affect his mind, heart, will and emotions. Why? Simply because these are the areas of attack where we face the greatest fears of the "in between".

Your "in between" may not be clear today, but if you choose to begin well, you will surely end well. In the "in between", choose to listen to the whispered voice of a good God, instead of the taunts and terror of the enemies of your soul. In the "in between", rest on the shoulder, close to the heart of the one who will carry you when you are weak, lift you when you fall, and treasure you when no one seems to exhibit any concern for your well-being. He who began a good thing in you will be sure to take you through to the end. Begin well and you will end even better than you began! Just sayin!

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