Fear Not My Child

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I lived on a farm when I was growing up. Over the course of the years we had different types of small animals. I remember them well because it was a part of my chores to feed and water them. We had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, a few dogs and ALOT of cats. In the spring and fall after the mama cats had their kittens, it would not be uncommon for us to have ten to twenty cats at one time. They lived outside but we had a few special ones that stayed in the house with us.

When I married my husband I found out he had a cat allergy so I put the idea of having a cat out of my mind. Now that my youngest is out of the toddler stage I’ve thought about getting a pet more seriously. The kids have been wanting a pet for years. That is with the exception of my four year old son. He’s afraid of animals. My mom has Shih Tzus and he’s been afraid of those since he could walk. He’s been doing better with them lately and I thought maybe he’s outgrown his fear. So I decided to research cats that are better for people with allergies. We found a breed we like. We began looking for where we could get one. We thought we found one at our local humane society so we went there to check it out. The other kids were forewarned that we were just checking things out. We had to be sure dad’s allergies weren’t going to bother him and that their little brother would be okay with having a cat.

At the shelter we realized the cat we were looking at was not the breed we wanted nor did he have the personality that would mesh with our family. We did however see a kitten we fell in love with. We went home and after some discussion my husband and I decided to give the kitten a chance. Our animal shelter has a great program that allows you to take the animal home overnight to see if it will work with your family. That was perfect for us since there was two members of our family that were a questionable fit for a cat. The shelter already closed for the weekend so we had to wait til Monday. After lunch on Monday we picked up the seven month old cat. The three kids who had been wanting a pet were in heaven. They played with her and pet her. She was the center of attention for hours. I kept an eye on my youngest son but he seemed to be doing okay. He wasn’t freaking out or crying. He seemed to be interested in the kitty but a little unsure.

Finally I told the kids to leave the cat alone for awhile. I needed some calm in the house so I could concentrate on making dinner. The kids watched T.V. while I was busy in the kitchen. Twenty to thirty minutes passed and the kitten decided to see where everybody was. She went into the living room and jumped on the couch right next to my four year old. He screamed and cried as he scurried to separate himself from the cat. I picked him up and tried to calm him down. I wasn’t sure if the cat just surprised him or if he truly was afraid. A yellow flag went up for me. I kept a closer eye on him.

During dinner you could see he was cautious but felt protected by mom and dad being there so his guard came down just a bit. After dinner the other kids went to play with the kitten. My son felt just brave enough that he wanted to see her, so we went together. He stood in the doorway and watched the kitten being playful as she pounced all over the girls’ bedroom. He seemed to be enjoying himself until the cat decided to dart out the door he was standing in and went right between his legs. He screamed in terror. He couldn’t get away fast enough. I picked him up. He clung to me wrapping his arms and legs around me with his head buried in my shoulder. While I tried to comfort my boy I knew he was truly scared. As I began to think about it more I realized he had been either on the couch or on his brother’s bed all day. Normally he’s very active. He plays on the floor or flies his planes around our house. He’s very silly and loves to dress up like a superhero then show us his “superspeed”. But he hadn’t been doing any of that today because he was scared of the cat. I knew then the cat had to go. I felt bad for my boy for being in fear all day. I was also saddened because the other kids and I fell in love with this cat. She had such a sweet personality. We loved having her around. I felt like I had to choose between my son being scared all the time or my other three kids being brokenhearted. However, the deal was everyone in the family had to be okay with whatever pet we got. I couldn’t have my son living in fear.

Since I also really wanted to keep our new found friend I tried talking to my son. I let him know the cat wouldn’t hurt him. She just wanted to play with him. He told me he liked the kitty but didn’t want it to jump on the couch with him or run around. There was just no way to get him to understand he didn’t need to be afraid. His maturity level couldn’t comprehend that he wasn’t in any real danger. I walked to the back of the house to break the sad news to the other three kids. There were tears all around. Even I cried as we relished the last hours we had with the cat we called Sadie. It’s amazing how quickly we fell in love with her.

My heart ached. I was torn for all of my children. It seemed there would be no winners here, no matter what choice was made. I was frustrated with the situation. I kept questioning whether I was making the best choice for our kids. I went back to the front of the house where my four year old was keeping a safe distance from Sadie. He had no idea of the tears and sadness going on. I wanted to be angry at my son for being afraid but reminded myself he was only four. It’s my job as his parent to give him the best environment to grow in. I couldn’t make him live with something he feared. Whether that fear was truly dangerous or not. He had to feel safe in his own home.

All of this thinking about fear made me wonder…what kinds of fears are running around in me? How have my fears affected people close to me and I wasn’t even aware of it? I know I fear things. Silly things, real things. Fear has been one of the things I’ve dealt with often in my life. Yet, my God is patient with me and the things I fear. Once in awhile I know He’s working with me on fear. The antidote for fear is faith, trust and love.

There’s a saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. In other words, the devil gets you to believe his lies. When you do fear enters your heart. God, however, has given us the bible to show us what truth is. When we build our faith upon the truth of His Word lies are broken. Sometimes the Lord has broken my fear by disarming lies the enemy has been crafty to feed to me.

At other times fear is not an issue of believing lies but of trusting God. All of us face situations where we have to choose if we will trust God with the outcome. Being a parent is opportunity to trust God. Trust Him with your child’s future, current provisions, well-being, health, on and on you could go with this list. Will we choose to trust God with our children or will we live in fear? God has shown my husband and I time and time again that the Great I Am is worthy of our trust through providing for us both needs and wants.

Other times He’s dealt with my fears by sweetly showing me over and over His unconditional love for me. He sends down what I call “kisses from heaven” to show me His love. Sometimes it’s in a song or a friend saying they prayed for me. The littlest thing can be kisses that shatter my fears with His unending love for me. God’s perfect love casts out all fear.

Just as I don’t want my child to live in fear neither does the Lord want His children living in fear. Fear is not from God. Fear pulls you inward. It puts you in defense mode. Just like it did with my son when he wasn’t being his normal playful self. Fear keeps you from living free. From being who God created you to be. This is not how God wants His people to live. Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the captives and release prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 NIV), to set the oppressed free and break every yoke (Isaiah 58:6b NIV). Jesus came to give us life and to give it abundantly. God wants you to be free from fear.

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I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4 (NIV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 (King James 2000 Bible)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. I John 4:18 (ESV)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 (NIV)

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
II Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)

The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)

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A New Creation

My daughter got a really cool book for Christmas about ocean creatures. It’s a photicular book created by Dan Kainen and written by Carol Kaufmann called Ocean. The pictures make the animals look like they’re moving when you move the page up and down. There are facts about each animal. One animal that caught my eye was the anglerfish. They live in the depths of the ocean where it is dark all the time. The females have a fishing pole like feature on their head with a light on the end that attracts other animals. The fish sort of looks like a blob with huge teeth and a light hanging in front of it’s head. For those who have seen Disney’s Nemo it’s the fish Dory and Marlin run into with the light. I think the fish is ugly and scary looking. It would be very intimidating to a little fish in the dark.

It wasn’t the picture of this strange creature that caught my eye but the facts about the male. “Male anglers have no fishing poles,” the book says, “but their story isn’t less interesting. Once a young male, much smaller than any female angler, finds a mate, he latches on with those pointy teeth and doesn’t let go.
Ever.
In fact, as time goes by, the male physically becomes part of the female. He fuses with her scales and bloodstream, and in the process, loses his eyes and all internal organs – except the testes, which are needed to supply sperm in order to produce little anglers.”

I thought, “That is CRAZY!!! …And disgusting.” My mind kept going back to this strange animal. I was having a hard time understanding why such a wonderful God created such an ugly creature with strange abilities. Suddenly, I saw how the bond between the male and female angler is a representation of our growing in Christ.

This fish lives in the darkest of places. Yet the females shine a little light in their dark world. We too live in a dark world. When the light of Christ is shone in our life it captivates us. We realize we’ve found something different and good. Something that can change our lives. So, like the male fish, we latch on. We come close to Christ, the one who makes our life new and our transformation begins. When we accept the gift of salvation He has freely given to us all, His cleansing blood washes over us. We now have His life giving blood flowing through us. Just as the male angler loses his physical eyes we lose ours in the sense that we don’t see things the way we used to with our physical eyes but our spiritual eyes have been opened. The light of Christ now guides us. We learn to be guided with the Holy Spirit as we read the bible. We begin taking on the attributes of Christ. We lose the desire to live for ourselves like the male angler loses his internal organs. We realize we cannot live apart from God nor do we want to. The only part left of the male angler is the part that gives seed for new little anglers. We are also to spread the seed of the good news of Christ.

When I realized the correlation between this fish and our growth in Christ I was awe struck. Amazed that God spoke to me through this crazy looking fish. Even in the depths of the darkest sea God is there. The bible says that through all of nature we can see God’s eternal power. (Romans 1:20) Even in the ugliest of creatures the beauty of God’s desire for our transformation unfolds. He so desires for us to be transformed by the power of His word. I now look at the anglerfish with a deeper appreciation. Remembering God revels Himself through all He has created.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NLT)