Monday, May 17, 2010

Fear, Donald Miller, and Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle




"The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is "Do not fear."  It's in there over two hundred times.  That means a couple of things, if you think about it.  It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn't let fear boss us around.  Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated.  And I guess it serves that purpose.  But fear isn't only a guide to keep us safe; it's also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life."  --from Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I was thinking about how we're supposed to fear God.  Fearing Him is the beginning of everything.  I wonder if fearing other things instead of God is sort of like idolatry.  We give our fear away to other things...lesser things...small things to God that seem really big to us.  We waste our fear...serve and love fear instead of fearing God.

When fear paralyzes us and keeps us from doing exactly what God says He loves and wants us to do then maybe fear is idolatry.  Fear causes us to waste our life.  For some reason God has chosen to write us into His epic story of redemption.  Fear causes us to take the substantial part God has given each believer and forces us into becoming minor characters...the ones easily forgotten...the ones no one remembers.  The ones who didn't do anything even though the opportunity to do something great for the Kingdom was presented over and over again.

Fear

It's icky.

When you decide to adopt or leave this country you find out real soon that there are lots of people who have daydreamed about adoption and living in a hut their entire life.  We've never been those people.  When we jumped into adoption, the thought to adopt had literally crossed our minds like one week before.  We lived a long part of our lives ignoring the adoptive nature of the God we claimed to love.  It never occurred to us that the God we were commanded to imitate was an adoptive father.  In a nutshell, the Gospel is a beautiful story of adoption.  God says to love the orphan and care for them in their distress.  Before understanding how much God loves adoption, we stupidly thought that adoption was only for people whose fallopian tubes had holes in them.  Like Delberts, we probably even said that out loud and meant it.

Until recently, I never thought about living out the great commission by going to another country because...let's just be honest here...I didn't care about missions.  Even though God says to go...even though He says to play our part in missions, even though the gospel is a story about missions, we ignored that part.  Who cares about the nations.  I didn't.  Who cares if Jesus left his wonderful home in heaven and came to this yucky earth.  Good for Him.  I'm not going.

All that to say...

One of my silly fears when considering adoption or "going" was that I wasn't like all those people who knew they were supposed to adopt or go when they were in third grade.  What if that meant God wasn't preparing me to go?  What if we weren't supposed to adopt or go because God hadn't put that in our hearts around the age when we were learning to ride our bikes?

Fear

It's silly.

Especially when it keeps us from doing things that God loves...like going or adopting.

Yet fear grabbed my heart and turned me into a lunatic when we were considering adoption.  Suddenly the sovereignty of God flies right out the window and thoughts like, "What if we get an ugly child or a kid with webbed feet" flood your mind.  It was a real battle to remind myself that God is the planner of families.  He is in control.  Our new baby would be THE baby God ordained to be a Hendrick....even if that child came with three ears or worse, buck teeth.

When Aaron asked me to consider going to Haiti intense fear seized me yet again.  The kind of fear that wakes you up in the middle of the night.  The fear that makes you sweat on your sheets.  I don't like sweaty sheets.  They smell like Doritos.  What if there is another earthquake?  What if we're robbed?  What if we get malaria?  What if one of our kids dies of some crazy jungle disease?  What about our retirement?  What about the kid's college?  What if I adopt 100 babies.  What if the kids don't have great friends in Haiti like they do here.  What if I get cancer from the crappy food there, or give my kids cancer by spraying deet on their skin every day?  Cancer or malaria...how can those be the only two options?  What if we don't have a close community in Haiti?  What if...what if...what if...

Those were my fears...they are my fears.  Just  a few of them.

Aaron wasn't really afraid of anything until he read the book, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle.  It's a book about a young, American couple who lived in a remote village in Haiti.

"This morning Shelly and I lie under a mosquito net and whisper as pigeons scratch and coo on the corrugated tin roof.  Cocks crow, mangy dogs bark and a grandmother with a tattered dress and a nine-tooth smile sweeps fallen mango leaves from the ground just outside the door.  The ecstatic drumbeats from an all-night Vodou fete had stopped.  The seven insect bites on my ankle itch, and I worry the mosquitoes might have injected into my bloodstream lymphatic flarial parasites (tiny worms, basically) that would trigger the extreme enlargement and deformation of my scrotum - a malady apparently not uncommon in this region." 

Aaron is afraid that his "boys" are going to blow up and that it will be so hot in Haiti his wife won't want him to touch her body.  That's a really nice way of saying what Aaron actually said when describing his fears to me.

You thought this was a post about something spiritual.

You just got punked.

This post is about how women's fears are more noble than men's.  Probably just as sinful.  But definitely more noble.

Luke 12:4-7
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 

16 comments:

the herzogs said...

Heather, I just want to say thanks for sharing this with all of us...it is a blessing to read what's going on with y'all and the journey you are going through. Praying for y'all...

Erin

Karen said...

Oh my! That was stinkin' hilarious! Who knew you were going to go to "the boys"? Thanks for the laugh!

And for the honesty...wow. I just can't believe y'all are actually doing it! Is there any better place to be than smack dab in the middle of God's will?

I am praying for you, for your fears (not Aaron's, he's on his own with that one.).

debra said...

cracking me up and making me think all at the same time.

Jana said...

I so laughed out loud when I read the end!! Thanks again for your honesty. Continuing to pray for y'all....

Jenny said...

Love watching God work in your life. Praying for you and this journey and all that you need along the way.

Aaron said...

There is nothing trivial about my fears. I resent the insinuation that my fears are some how less noble than yours.

I would take a web-footed baby ANY DAY over lymphatic flarial parasites.

Aaron

liz bohannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Fletcher said...

Y'all are killing me! Really...laughed out loud at the end of the post. Totally understood those fears up until then.

I con completely relate to you when you ask if it's really right since you haven't wanted it from childhood. That's how I feel about adoption. I kind of know down in my heart that it's there and will probably someday be a reality for our family, but I have fears and concerns and it's a road I'm just not ready to go down. I don't feel a nudge by the Lord to go there yet, though I feel definite nudges to pray, give, and make us all aware.

My husband's first mission trip was to Haiti, when he was a teenager. That trip had a major impact on him. He went into vocational ministry and we're now serving as home team missionaries with GFA, in part b/c of that trip. He says he can still hear the nighttime Vodou drums.

Thanks for sharing your emotions and thoughts as you walk through this process. They are very real fears. But, you made some great points in the beginning of your post about fear and how it paralyzes us to do what God wants.

Interesting...I thought it was unrelated that I was asked to speak on fear with some ladies last week since I've been chewing on this whole radical thing (from reading Chan's Crazy Love book to your posts on the radical series). Hmmm... The connection of God calling us to radical living and fear didn't hit me until just now!

Anthony and Sharon said...

Oh my! HAHAHAHAHAHA! I had to read this post to my husband.

We, thankfully, had an air conditioner installed in our bedroom so the equatorial heat wouldn't make my husband's fears a reality.

Though, the instability of developing world power supplies gave very real glimpses at times!!

Grace Family said...

praying for you guys... two weeks?!?! Wow, that's a quick move! Hang in there and keep sharing your honesty. Looking forward to seeing what being right smack in the middle of God's will really looks like for a family with children!

Elizabeth said...

This post made me smile and laugh - a lot. Like Sharon, I read it aloud to my husband and could barely get through it for laughing. Thanks! :)

It's encouraging and exciting to see the ways that God is teaching and shaping you... even in the midst of your fears.

For me, the fear came as our plane began to descend into the Prague airport and I wondered aloud what are we doing here? My husband found it rather amusing and wanted to know why I hadn't thought of that before. However, one year later as we waited at the airport gate for our back to Prague (after returning to the States for Christmas) I couldn't help but smile when I overheard (and understood!) Czech children speaking with their parents. Our second flight to Prague definitely felt like we were coming "home".

Praying for you all and giving thanks in advance for all the ways that Haiti will soon become "home" to you!

R said...

I stumbled on your blog a few days ago. Thanks for your honesty and your humor! :) I am looking forward to reading more about your experiences in Haiti.

Praying for you,
Ruth

Anonymous said...

I actually heard about this scrotum swelling condition from Rachel when they had a medical team come to Nicaragua! They saw several boys with this condition!

Melodi

Mike Thornton said...

Wow!! We love you guys! This is awesome. We hope to someday see you there. Tried to get the Navy to send me as part of the humanitarian/disaster relief effort - but wouldn't let me leave Guam. I think Melda is already listening to the series - she's talking like your blogging.

Look up John & Beth McHoul, of Heartline Ministries, when you get there. The orphanage we adopted Michael from.

Hendrick Family said...

Mike! So good to hear from you. Love that wife of yours.

When I get to Haiti I think I will be helping at Heartline teaching breastfeeding stuff. I spoke to Beth on the phone while I was in Haiti. Such a cool moment for me. I've loved her as a stranger forever!

Heather

Marcie said...

Heather, the minute I heard about you guys going to Haiti, I wondered about you helping with breastfeeding. From my little bit of reading I've done on Haiti, it seems that is a big need. How great that God has been preparing you for this mission all along by making nursing such a part of your life!

(Remember when you came and helped me with Bryce at the Med? So grateful for you!)

Loving y'all and praying from Central Texas...