What Are You Afraid Of?
"What are you afraid of?" This was the question asked of approximately 150 women one weekend at an amazing women's ministry conference I attended in New England. What is keeping you confined within the current borders of your everyday life, that you fear you cannot overcome? Depression? Abuse? Unforgiveness? Finances? Your need for comfort and security? In Christ, there should be no fear of any kind that holds you back from fulfilling your destiny (1 John 4:18). The limits are off!
Hold on for Dear Life!
Sometimes, God reminds me of simple, familiar phrases and uses them to reveal spiritual truths. He did that again this morning. I'd been studying Proverbs yesterday: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7-8). I obviously hadn't gotten enough understanding yet, since He startled me awake today with another familiar saying.
"Hold on for dear life!" He said as I awoke, bleary-eyed and not quite coherent. Truthfully, I was more interested in holding on to my pillow at that point than having a theological discussion. But once I had grabbed a mug of hot tea and my Bible, His words began to make more sense.
Proverbs 4 commands us to "get wisdom" and "get understanding," and more specifically, to "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life." (Proverbs 4: 13). It was this emphasis on "taking hold" that the Lord wanted me to see. Here's what He showed me.
Jesus is wisdom, and so the Old Testament command to get wisdom mirrors the New Testament call to take hold of Jesus and all that He has called us to do. 1 Corinthians 1:24 tells us that Jesus is the wisdom of God, and we know from Isaiah 11:1 that the 7-fold Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom, counsel, understanding, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord, the Bible says, is the beginning of all wisdom. In other words, accepting Jesus is the wisest decision anyone will ever make, since Christ is the author and source of all wisdom. Embracing wisdom brings protection and honor to our lives.
For wisdom is protection just as money is protection,
but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom
preserves the lives of its possessors.
~Ecclesiastes 7:12, NASB
So: get wisdom, hold on to Jesus, gain your life. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, from the time of the prophets until the time Jesus came to earth, His leaders hadn't held on to wisdom at all. In contrast, they had hypocritically laid aside God's commands in order to keep their own traditions. (See Jeremiah 8:5 and Mark 7:8-9). Like Joab taking hold of the horns of the altar, they appeared to be doing the right thing on the outside but were devoid of truth internally. (See 1 Kings 1-2 for the story of Joab and Solomon). Their loose grip on the truth cost them their lives. It was, quite symbolically, the wisdom of Solomon that struck Joab down.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.
but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
all those who hate me love death.
Holding on to instruction requires an attitude of humility: an innate awareness of one's need for wisdom, and a willingness to gain understanding by listening to His teachings daily. We are exhorted in 2 Timothy 1:13 to "Hold fast the pattern of sound words." Jesus, in three of His seven addresses to the churches in Revelation, asks us to "Hold fast to what you have until I come." (Letters to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia). Holding on to wisdom is achieved by letting go of things that hold our attention elsewhere: children, family problems, job pressures, hobbies that steal our time. It is costly in that we must die to our own ideas of what should be done moment by moment in order to take hold of His plans for our lives.
Life is like riding a roller coaster. You gotta "hold on for dear life" to Jesus, the source of all wisdom, if you're going to survive the ride. His wisdom is life-giving, life sustaining. Had I held on to my pillow instead this morning, I would have missed the wonderful conversation I had with the Lord and the way He opened up my understanding of His Word. Our ability to hold on to Jesus may be as critical to our life one day as staying strapped in on a roller coaster ride. Without His protection, we risk it all.
Prayer: Jesus, please show me what I am holding on to. Are self-reliance, religious rituals or everyday routines replacing my search for revealed wisdom? Help me to make wisdom the principal thing as I press on to take hold of you!
Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold
of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet
to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
forgetting what is behind and straining toward
what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 3: 12-14, NIV
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014. All references NKJV unless otherwise noted.
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Have you ever climbed aboard a submarine? If so, you're familiar with those small but weighty water-tight doors that provide passage from chamber to chamber. They are made of solid steel and weigh several hundred pounds. Once closed, they seal you off from water or gas pressure at depths of up to 10,000 meters. As you might know, it's the Hebrew year 5774, the "Year of the Open Door," and while my boys climbed eagerly in and out of submarine doors on our vacation last week, the Lord began to speak to me about these doors.
Hebrew letters have both numeric and pictorial values, and the number 74 in Hebrew is "Ayin Dalet." Ayin evolves from the picture of an eye, speaking of seeing or vision, while Dalet is used to speak of an open door, specifically a tent door that is tied back. Keep that in mind as I show you how our vacation unfolded!
Since my husband is a submarine buff, we started our trip with a visit to the USS Albacore in Portsmouth, NH. This sub is a 1950's research submarine, the fastest of its kind at the time, and one prophetically named the "Forerunner of the Future." Shaped like a tuna fish, it was made for covert stealth missions and for speed. It carried 50 Navy men who literally stuffed themselves into narrow 6' bunks and crouched through tiny passageways. One hallway was so narrow that my 6-foot 1-inch 13-year-old could not walk through without twisting his broad shoulders!
The only things you see on this sub are steel and machinery. There are no windows to provide a view; only the periscope operator would see the skyline. It's what you hear that's important. The two primary goals of this submarine are to listen and to attack. Using sonar, the crew listens for enemy movement and protects our shores with missle attacks. All this substantial steel and watertight protection sounded pretty impressive to me, until the Lord made the very good point that the doors were open.
I watched my husband and kids playfully crouching down to step through the 700-pound doors and realized : the doors are open - locked open, in fact - open so that no man can shut them. (Rev. 3:7-8). What used to be an impenetrable steel barrier has been bolted open, in this case, forever! What a wonderful picture of Ayin Dalet!
But the Lord wasn't finished with His story yet. A few days later, we traveled to the Wood Island Lighthouse, where we climbed 60 stone and iron steps to the gallery and viewing balcony at the top. (Special thanks to my friend Lisa, who watched the kids for me so I could go up!) Most people are fascinated with the hi-tech lantern and the wonderful views, 71 feet above water. But what I noticed most was the tiny iron door, no taller than 3 feet high, which the lighthouse keeper must crouch down to climb through. Once outside, he can walk all around the balcony and enjoy his newfound perspective. Another small - but open - door. Another call to get low, to humble yourself as you go through the open doors the Lord is giving you in order to gain a new position and a new perspective.
I wondered where all this was leading, of course, but the third piece came only as we concluded our vacation and began the drive home. We love yard sales, and when we stopped at one along the way we were given a small bag containing - guess what - a tent. The kids set it up at home and found it to be a pup tent, in perfect condition, with just one small zippered door. They unzipped it so I could take a picture and suddenly, I saw what God had given me: Ayin Dalet - the tent door! Wow!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a submarine engineer) to see that God is serious about opening doors for us this year. That which has limited us in the past is no longer a barrier to our future. In my case, the submarine and the lighthouse speak specifically to my callings (I am both a prayer warrior and a prophetic watchman). What doors is God opening for you this year? I challenge you to ask Him for the specifics. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments. And I pray He will open doors that give you a beautiful new view of your life - from His perspective.
c. Deborah Perkins, 2014
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.