Chapter One


Many years ago. Self-improvement was my god. Neuro Linguistic Programming my creed. NLP the initials I relished. Learning to live not inside and behind my skin. But living in my skin. With nothing to hide.

Arrogance was on display. Control was very visible. Confidence still hid away. Scared of the light. Camouflaged. Blending in and singing along. Mouthing the words so as not to stand out and be noticed. Something was missing.

I look back with mixed emotions. But in the final analysis … It is what it is.

Too often I read words, see paintings, hear music. Words of fear. Painting of fear. Music of fear. Everywhere is fear. Camouflaged. Blending in and singing along. Mouthing the words. Scared of being noticed for what is is.

Fear.

One NLP exercise was High Ropes. A totally safe activity with harnesses and enough safety to keep a young baby gurgling. Thirty feet up in the branches of very sturdy trees. Helmet. Harness. Heart thumping. Head saying “safe” over and over again very quickly. And kidding no one. Sweaty palms. Trembling muscles. Brain freeze. Controlled panic.

I learned that I fear letting go of what I know. Fear stepping forwards. Hold on to the known. In this case a tree-trunk. A solid, unmoving, going nowhere tree-trunk. My comfort zone.

Fear.

That same fear overwhelmed me when I opened the door, looked out blindly and screamed Help Me Now!!

I didn’t let go. He did. He let go of waiting. He let go of hoping. He let go and moved in. Ignited a spark. Showed me how to put one very slow foot in front of the other. And then helped me place it in just the right place. Fear never left me. I wouldn’t let it. Fear has been a constant companion. Longer than Him. Because I see fear, smell fear, feel fear. Longer than I could Him.

Fear.

I will never be rid of it completely. It is as much part of me as the cells of my heart. It is the cells of my heart. No matter how much prayer, songs of praise, words of hope, preach the message of salvation … it remains. Mouthing the words. Blending in. Hoping to go unnoticed.

Is fear of the devil? Is fear of sin? Is fear bad? For I have written often that fear and love are like oil and water. Love cannot where there is fear. Love cannot where there is transaction.

That same exercise I cast out fear.

Three tree-trunks. More trees. Angled upwards. A walk up one to the next and then the third. On each had been drawn an intricate pattern. A beautiful intricate pattern. Just for me. Just for this moment. A moment so wondrous all I knew was awe. That someone had placed this masterpiece of art right under my feet. My feet which lovingly stepped with great respect so as not to fray their delicacy. Too precious to merely walk on it. So precious that each step I took was my tribute to the artist.

And all too soon in the blinking of an eye … I was thirty feet in the air without even knowing how I had got there. Sad my journey had ended. Tearful this moment had been taken away. Replaced by the sights and sounds of “an exercise”. Replaced by analysis of that moment. Finding evidence of brain processes. Concluding something scientific.

No fear.

In those few moments fear was cast out. And my very being was filled. Filled so full, there was no fear.

It is possible to live without fear. For a few moments it was not only possible – I did. And where there is no fear there is only love. Love and fear do not have to be fractious bed-fellows. Fear is not part of me. It is allowed. I allow. And I do too often.

I returned to that tree trunk path. What I had been entranced with were only grain patterns. Worn smooth and polished by countless boots. Worn by countless helmeted and harnessed others. A boringly normal explanation. It was just a tree. Positioned for all us to walk the walk and fight our fears. Just part of a High Ropes exercise. Nothing special

NLP went the way of many others searchings for self-improvement. Another “is this the answer” phase. Enthused and happy. Finding it helped for a while. A year or two maybe. Until the next phase, the next answer.

Until I opened the door and screamed for Him. And finally found what I had been searching for.

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25 thoughts on “Chapter One

  1. It seems like those rare moments of life where we live without fear are so poignant, they are almost as memorable as those times of severely heightened fear. And in both cases, it is almost like the body and mind cannot sustain either experience for very long.

    • As I was writing this I was back in the zone. Can still remember every detail. Yet your comment about not sustaining either end of the scale …. that has set a few grey cells talking to each other …. Thank you.

  2. I, too, did a High Ropes course many years ago during a self-improvement phase, and will never forget that feeling of fear that, despite all the head knowledge of safety, clung to me like talons from the trunk of that tree 30 feet in the air.

    God’s love not only casts out fear, but provides freedom to soar like an eagle, talons and all.

  3. Paul i still hear your fear lurking. And its okay. Be still and know that He is God. And Hes not going anywhere. Just rest in His love.
    Bless your heart my friend.
    Katie 🌻

  4. You know, you might want to consider adding a “tip jar” to your blog because your stories are so good, I feel like I should be paying you for sharing! You are a brilliant writer, Paul. Why hasn’t some publisher compiled your insights into a best-seller?? I’d buy several copies and might even fly to England for the book signing. πŸ™‚

    >>>Naturally, I had to research NLP (the librarian in me). Quite fascinating stuff. I LOVE linguistics and came very close to pursuing my master’s in it. Sigh… I miss the IPA.

    >>>When I was a teacher, I took my students to several ropes challenge courses. I had reactions ranging from sheer panic to boredom. One of my more astute students, who didn’t seem to have an ounce of fear as he approached the 30-foot drop, said something I’ll never forget: “You really want to face fear head-on? Try coming to my neighborhood at night without protection.” He jumped from the platform easily, knowing that a bigger challenge awaited him at home.

    The truth of his comment made my fears seem downright small. What’s a tarantula or a scorpion in your shoe when predators lurk outside your windows? Fear. Is it relative? Did that boy’s fears invalidate my own? I have pondered these questions many times. My answer (and I only discovered this recently) is that God doesn’t want me to be afraid. Not of things like tarantulas, scorpions, clowns, or predators.

    He wants me to fear Him. For His awesome and glorious power. He is in control. Of EVERYTHING! He is my protector. I’ve held onto my fears for so long (and not just the “scorpion in the shoe” fears, but the raw, personal fears, too) that I wonder if I would be empty without them. And is that what God is asking me? To empty myself of my fears, my hangups, my “mind” clutter so I can fill myself up with His love? “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:2

    I wonder if fear stinks to God?

    Oh how I long to be a pleasing aroma to my Father.

    My favorite part of this first chapter to your masterpiece is: “Fear is not part of me. It is allowed. I allow. And I do too often.” What struck me is how you so honestly owned the fear.

    I allow.

    Yes, I do. And I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to allow Satan to have a foothold in my life. He would love nothing more than for us to live in bondage to our fears or to carry the weight of blame with us.

    Fear is darkness. And Satan lurks in the darkness.

    Lord help me to relinquish all my fears and to stay rooted in Your glorious light. Help me to be strong and to realize that “fear is not part of me” and that I need to repel, not allow, it into my life.

    Thank you so much, Paul. Your words are always insightful to me and get me to look in the mirror and see the truth of me. Blessings to you, my precious dirt brother.

    • Heather – apart from the small matter of not getting through many doorways here my head swells so big with your compliments … πŸ™‚

      Your words were going ping a ding a ling as I read. And then your words near the bottom:
      “Lord help me to relinquish all my fears and to stay rooted in Your glorious light. Help me to be strong and to realize that β€œfear is not part of me” and that I need to repel, not allow, it into my life.”

      Someone gave me two words. “In me. In me.” The lord waits, must wait, for us to pull Him to me. And that is all. In a very small nutshell. Pull Him to me. Allow Him to enfold and outflow around me. Allow. If I allow. If I pull Him to me.

      So often I have found myself waiting for Him to pull me. Never realising t might just be holding the wrong end of the stick. The “I am too unworthy” stuff (you know the stuff all of us say so easily). Me grab my Lord and hoik Him to me? WHOAAAH!!!!!!

      Yet the more I think of those two words “in me in me” – the more it makes perfect sense. He could quite easily grab me. He could quite easily make me perfect. Yet that is not the deal. I surrender and pull him to me. I surrender by grabbing Him! I have that in me – to be that close to my lord. To be that relationship assertive and serving and loving and …. (get a bit damp eyed when I go along that path)

      In me. In me.

      Wow!

  5. It’s like the precious gifts He is willing to give us. He holds them in His hands and waits for us to accept, to take them. But we, too often ask, what’s the catch? No catch. Just take it. He’s giving it, we just have to make some effort. Grab me Lord! I’m here, I’m always here, I will never leave you nor forsake you, but you have to grab, cling to Me! Great Word brother! I feel like Brother Levi, I read it and I can feel it!!
    God bless you Brother!

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