“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
~2 Timothy 1:7
I sat in the quiet of the rising sun, out in my garden. I prayed and pondered my life. thinking of all of the many twists and turns it has taken. I thought about who I am now, after healing from so many past wounds.
“You aren’t your story,” God said.
“What? What story?” I asked.
“You are not the events that have taken place in your life,” God answered. “You are not a “who”. You are more than a mom, a coach, a sister, a daughter, a woman who has been abused or hurt. You are more than a person who stopped drinking, who lost everything but found the most amazing riches of all. You aren’t even your name. You aren’t Jennifer.”
“I’m not? Then who am I?”
“Instead of getting lost in the story you tell yourself about you and your life, think about what you are,” He instructed. You are part of my creation. Your true nature is far greater than anything that has, or ever will, happen to you. Drop the stories. Then, drop the storyteller. Let your consciousness expand beyond the boundaries you’ve created. Remember what you are, my child.”
“That may take me some time and effort,” I said. I’m not used to thinking in those terms.
“I’m here to help you,” God said. A songbird lifted her voice to the morning. I turned my face to the heavens and closed my eyes. I did my best to forget who I am and to be what I am. For a moment, I was at peace, no longer bound to my story, no longer attached to my ego. I was fully connected to God.
Walking the trail today I noticed naked ladies blooming on the hillside. Their tall brown stems adorned with a single pink blossom—their leaves dried and already decaying—remind me that summer is coming to a close.
My thoughts turned to the season ahead, and I longed for my circumstances to be different. I ached for my own home. A husband. A garden I could tend as I desired. I thought of a myriad of things I wanted. A sense of loss and lack washed over me and my steps grew as heavy as my heart.
“Have I not provided for you?” God asked.
My cheeks burned bright with embarrassment. “Of course, you have. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful.”
“I’ve attended to everything in my creation,” God replied. “There is abundance, not lack.”
I thought of all the abundance in my life—my family, my good health, my friends and the deep satisfaction my work gives me. “I have everything I need, I know. I have enough.” My steps lightened as did my heart.
I stopped by one of the naked ladies and bent down and breathed in is pale perfume—the sweet scent of summer’s last days. And then, I went on my way, full of God.
Walking the trail at the resevoir in the growing heat of the day, I stopped and took refuge on a bench under a scrub oak. The deep blue water shimmered in the full force of the sun. The plants and trees growing along the banks looked illuminated, too. It was as if God was saying, “look at all I’ve created for you! Can you see me hidden here in everything?”
“I know you are here,” I prayed silently. “There you are,” I said, and pointed to a rather squat shrub to my left. “And there,” I said, and pointed to a vine of posion oak wrapping its way around a tree trunk. I looked upward and saw a hawk circling high above. “There you are,” I said. “God, I see you in all things. Your spirit permeates all of creation.” A gentle breeze rushed past me, lifting my hair. I smiled at the playfulness of it.
I sat for a few more minutes, allowing the shade to revive me, then rose to my feet and slowly started off again. This time, I walked with with my eyes and my heart wide open to God, open to all of His creation.
Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.
Sitting under the bare branches of the pear tree on a gray morning, I pondered the meaning of life. “What’s it all about, God?” I asked.
“It’s simple. Be like nature. Serve others,” God replied.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Nothing in nature is there for itself, it is there for others,” God explained. That pear tree you are sitting under doesn’t grow pears for itself. It grows them for others to eat.
It began to rain and I rose to make my way back to the cottage. “Even the rain doesn’t fall for itself, it falls for those that need water to drink,” God said as He walked with me.
“I’ve never thought of nature that way before,” I replied. “How shall I serve?” I asked.
“Start by loving,” God said gently. “You can’t serve unless you love.”
I looked back over my shoulder at the pear tree. “Does it love?” I asked.
“Very much,” God answered. “For it is full of me.” He smiled and opened the cottage door for me. “After you,” He said.
“Thank you,” I replied and realized that God is something I can never fully understand for He is both master and servant. I walked in and shook the rain from my hair. “Let’s go sit by the fire,” I invited. And of course, He accepted.
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
Every holiday season as a child I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a tradition. But it wasn’t until I was older that I saw the most important message in the movie. Linus took to the stage and told the story of the shepherds abiding in the field, watching their flocks by night. Here’s where the movie gets profound. When Linus quoted, “But the angel of the Lord said unto them, ‘Fear not’” he dropped his security blanket before he continued the story— “for I bring you tidings of great joy, for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
For Linus, it was a blanket. For you and I, perhaps it is our looks, our careers, our bank accounts, our fancy cars, clothes, and houses, or even our addictions, that we cling to for security. But we should drop all of those things and cling to God instead. We have nothing to fear because God loves us so very much that He sent His Son to walk among us and teach us about the greatest lesson we will ever learn: to love.
As we enter into this season of celebrating Christ’s birth, let us drop the things we hide behind. Let us drop our fears, especially our fear of one another, and embrace the message Christ shared with us. Let us dismantle all the barriers we’ve created to love and take to heart the glorious words of the angel, “Fear not,” for God is with us.