Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
My friend and I sit in chairs pulled up close, under a red umbrella, in the shade. Chubby frog statues spit water into a lily pad shaped pond behind us, and I sip my lemonade happily (the best drink in the entire world). My insecure dog tucks himself tight underneath my legs until I pull him to the side, his leash tethered to a hook on the fence. I get up to grab us napkins for our sandwiches and when I return (after being gone for five whole seconds) my dog is all the way under the table now, alert, ears pricked, trying desperately to figure out where I have gone, and if I am coming back.
“Oh, he is just like you — you with God!” my friend says, when I return. “Look at him, so nervous when you feel God is out of your sight.”
I had just shared with her the bummer days I had last week, the second week the kids (and even my little girl, for the first time) were all back in school all day, and I was doubting I have what it takes to write beyond these words here too, an adventure God is calling me to do. So, instead of writing, I fiddled around with the header on my blog and tweaked a few things in the sidebar and did some other errands and things around the house . . . and I wrote a little here and there.
But, deep down, I felt unsettled because I knew I was doubting my identity in Him. I was not trusting Him, afraid to do the hard work of obedience. I was choosing to reject the truth of His strength in me, His words in me. And, in my disobedience, I felt anxious and tired and discouraged . . . and believed He must be disappointed in me and was no longer near.
And that is when I look like my anxious, rescued dog, Fulton, looking up from under the table with big, wet eyes, searching for Someone who is already there.
Because I’ve been rescued, too. But I don’t act like it when I get nervous and am forgetful that He is the one who comes after me and redeems every bit of my life, when I say “yes” and let Him. He is the One who saves.
And no matter what insidious whispers lure me to try to believe the opposite, this God of mine doesn’t leave. And when the Father calls me to a new adventure with Him, He isn’t a God who holds out a treat, luring me over and then leaving me, expecting I will be able to complete the task on my own.
We can do nothing on our own. And some things He calls us to are hard. They seem completely daunting and huge sometimes. And we need Him desperately, absolutely, to do anything well. But we can do all things, with Him.
Distrusting who we are, the talents He has given us to use, for His glory, when He calls us to do them, increases anxiety and unsettledness. If I refuse to believe I am who He sees me to be — that I have what it takes, with Him, to complete a certain task, and that He truly does love me so much that He wants to hang out with me, no matter what I do or where I am — then I am the nervous, cowering dog under the table begging for just scraps to eat.
While God gives us things to do that are too big to accomplish on our own, He never leaves our side, and He asks us to trust Him, trust His presence, lean into Him with everything we are. If He gives us something, with Him, to do, He will give us everything we need to do it.
Yep. My friend is pretty wise, and pretty awesome. And this is just one of the reasons I love her, especially because she encourages me to run after truth and hold on to faith with everything I am. Even when she compares me to my insecure, super-attached-to-me, anxious dog. I need friends around me like that.
For her words sink deep, to that place where I know what she says is true. And I see my dog’s sweet, pleading brown eyes, feel his soft golden fur against my leg, know his quietness and relaxed state when I am near. And I wonder what it is that makes me anxious, fearing God’s absence, the lack of faith that comes from doubt and worry.
I don’t like it. It is not what is most true about me. It is not, at my core, who I am.
Father, am I like Fulton?
Dear child, quiet your heart. You are My beloved. Remember who you are, how I strengthen you. It is good to want to be by My side. And you are not weak to want to be near Me. But there is no anxiety with relationship with Me. There is no fear and worry and doubt when I am near. Those things are not of Me. So, when those feelings come, know that I am with You, but You are having trouble seeing My face. But I am close. I never leave your side. Calm your anxious thoughts, your doubts about My love. I bring peace, child, not tribulation.
And I sit here, typing out in the quiet cottage while my kids are all still asleep inside, and Fulton has followed me out, his body curled up in a ball against the base of the couch. When I wake in the dark and we are still in the house, he jumps up and wags his long tail so loud it hits the furniture, the wall, the floor, anything it is near, with a bang, his whole body twisting in a crazy, excited wiggle. He grabs something, anything — a toy or a sock from the unfolded laundry pile on the couch–to hold in his mouth, and I have to ask him to lie down while I grab my laptop and journal and head out to the cottage because with all this commotion in our little place he will definitely wake the whole house.
But I am near, and he is excited and happy and settled now. And I am here, at my Master’s feet again, too. Complete. Rescued. Safe.
This post appeared originally at YouareMygirls.com