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FAITHFUL LIVING ... God will take away our pain and fears

"This is the one, Mom!" my son cried out as he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the carnival ride — the very one I hoped he would look right past. But a promise is a promise, after all. I knew the opportunity for a special moment with my young son had presented itself if only I would be a good sport and show some enthusiasm.

"Looks like a good one!" I managed to exclaim as the operator secured a chain across our laps. Deep inside I knew I was about to experience terror and a quick assessment of the ride confirmed my fear.

I was way out of my comfort zone. The things we do for love.

Up, up, up we went, the damp, cool air of fall blowing through our hair. "Let’s snuggle to stay warm," I hollered to Daniel so I could be heard above the screams and the recorded pipe organ music. But if truth be told, for a few moments he became my only sense of security.

Then I recalled the words of my childbirth coach: Lamaze breathing will come in handy more often than you think! So I held onto the chain, squeezed my son, took a few cleansing breaths, and closed my eyes.

"I see Daddy and the girls!" my brave little 9-year-old exclaimed as he leaned forward for a better view. Then he caught sight of me and burst into a fit of laughter.

"Open your eyes, Mom. This is so cool. And quit curling your toes. They’re turning white and you kinda look like a dork!"

There are a whole lot of us who get rather grabby when we venture out of our comfort zones. When we lose that sense of control. Or when we feel alone or misunderstood. When we are negatively surprised. Or when there is a crisis. When we have depleted our own personal resources like time. Money. Energy. Or the resources of friends. When our backs are up against a very hard and immovable wall.

At times like these we frequently grab onto faith. We call out for God. We dust off our Bibles and read of the anguish expressed in the Psalms. We recite the prayers of our youth. We go to worship services. We ask for prayer support. We make donations.

When life gets tough we grab onto God with conviction. Sometimes we even bargain: "If you see me through this, God, I will clean up my act. I will go to church more often. I will be a better person.

How thankful I am that the Bible portrays a very different God. He does not wait like a warlord on the outskirts of town for us to approach him, frantic and grabby and hoping to wheel and deal our way to His good graces. Although God will take us in any condition, He draws near to us, instead. He knows what we are going through. He offers to take the burden, the pain, the fear from us. He promises to hold our treasures and those we love the most.

But handing over all that you care about also includes trust and perhaps that is the most difficult task of all. How do we hand over our worries? How do we override our gut-level fears?

We take a chance. We take a deep breath and speak out about our fears to God because there is nothing else we can do — other than spend unnecessary amounts of time and energy worrying. We take this chance in spite of the pit in our stomachs. We step out in faith even if it defies logic. We make a move because stepping toward God overrides the anthrax and the politics, the bombs and the ancient tunnels of Afghanistan. We move into a presence that blocks out the darkness and the hopelessness.

And then we pray, especially for the children.

Lord,

Sometimes we grab at faith like it is a lifeline when life feels like a white knuckle ride and we have no sense of control. But today, with trust and new resolve, we hand over all the children of the world into your care. They are precious to us. We want them to be healthy. We want them to be safe. We want them to learn about truth that defies cultural norms and wisdoms. Most of all we want them to know that a growing community — and the Lord of Life — loves them all.

Amen.

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