I woke up this morning filled with dread. My stomach was in knots, my heart was heavy. Negative thoughts were pinging in my brain. It all stemmed from circumstances around my business, and the fear of the unknown. I'd like to open up and share my heart about it in hopes that if you can relate, you'll be encouraged.
Back during the Christmas season, I was watching the number of Lettering Prayer Journal boxes diminish in my dining room. It was a fantastic feeling. My dining room had been filled with these boxes since July.
My husband and I discussed it and calculated that I'd be out of stock of journals early in the new year. So I prayerfully ordered more - which, let me tell you, is no small change and not a small decision. Every big business decision causes me anxiety.
Then January came. And everything came to a screeching halt. Crickets. I wasn't prepared for it. Niggling doubts began to creep in – "You're starting over. You're going to have all these new journals and they're just going to sit in your dining room forever" – but I pushed them away, not wanting to think about it.
You see, last year at this time, I was in a deep, dark funk. I was struggling with my purpose, with putting myself out there, with fear of failure, fear of disappointing people.
One morning I rolled over in bed and grabbed my phone and opened an email from a customer. (Looking at your phone first thing in the morning is never a good thing, I've realized!) The email was rude and critical. One negative email out of so many positive ones. But that one is the one I still remember. It made me want to close up shop and hide in my bed forever.
That's when God did something special in my heart. My pastor preached a sermon shortly after about Nehemiah building the wall. I've heard so many sermons in my life, thousands probably. But this sermon changed my life. Truly. I remember exactly where I was sitting. And I remember crying. Because God spoke to my fragile heart through the preacher like I was the only one in the room. You can listen to the sermon here.
"When God gives you a vision for your life, when God crystallizes a vision in your heart, that vision will never change." -Ken Whitten
God truly had given me a vision for my business: to point people to scripture, to create for His glory, to encourage a deeper walk with God.
That sermon reminded me that "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." (Nehemiah 6:3 ESV) At that time, I pushed through the doubts and kept going, claiming Nehemiah 6:9 "But now O God, strengthen my hands."
Of course I've had doubts and anxiety since then, but I haven't struggled with such an oppressive spiritual attack since that day.
So now a year later, I was prepared for the enemy to try to make me feel worthless or depressed again. To attack me at the start of a new year. But it didn't happen. Great news!
Or was it?
Something wasn't right.
When you're not feeling the opposition of the enemy, you're probably not doing anything that threatens him. But I didn't realize it. I was just going on, pushing forward, making my own plans.
Which brings me to this morning, when I woke up in fear. I sat in bed with a spiritual heaviness over me. The fear of having a brand new shipment of Lettering Prayer Journals and nobody buying them, and having them sit in my dining room forever.
That may sound like a silly fear. I know there are worse things out there: Cancer, car accidents, losing your job, losing a family member. But my fears tend to paralyze me, make me want to turn and run to comfortable safety.
This time, instead of spiraling down, I evaluated.
I've slacked off. I've started working in my own strength again. I've started looking to my circumstances instead of looking to the One who gave me the vision in the first place. I've stopped praying...
I admitted to my husband that I was feeling this fear, and he pointed to my arm. Coincidentally (or not), I'm wearing a temporary tattoo right now that says "faith not fear." As I glanced down at my arm, I was reminded that faith and fear cannot exist together.
I've lost sight of the main thing. It may not look like it; I'm still doing what I've been doing, posting Bible verses and encouraging you to read your Bible. But I've been doing it in my own strength again.
God's proven himself over and over and over. Why do I always doubt him? Am I so much like the Israelites wandering in the desert, fearing they'll starve after God miraculously delivered them from the Egyptians? (See Exodus 16)
A Christian's faith rests in the assurance that God cares about us and takes care of our every need. Our faith is often tested, but we can grow in faith when we learn more about God's character through reading the Bible. And we can commit ourselves to trusting Him through constant prayer.
Scripture and prayer. The two major components to growing spiritually. The two things you should always do, even if you're having your own "fear vs. faith" moment.
Let's remember that we're called to do a great work. Remember that where there is opportunity, there is always opposition (your family's opinions, your circumstances). Remember that when you answer God's call on your life, your life now has purpose and power. But you can't do it in your own strength! Run to Him to equip you.