My good friend and mentor, Regi Campbell, passed away peacefully on January 24, surrounded by family and friends. The Father brought him home in His perfect timing, just before the COVID-19 outbreak, which would’ve forced Regi to spend his last weeks in isolation.
While I’m thankful for providential timing, I’m sad not to be able to lean on Regi during these uncertain and fearful moments. I’ve wished to read a blog post from him on fear or to call and ask what he’s thinking as the world scrambles. Upon reflection, here are three things he might say . . .
- The only sure cure for anxiety is a grateful heart. Anxiety comes from unmet expectations. Anytime a new experience conflicts with old expectations, we have a choice . . . let our thoughts flow effortlessly down the path that’s already developed, or renew our minds and guide our thoughts down a new path. Sometimes it takes a new and challenging life experience to truly appreciate our blessings. Gratitude is a great motivator, and life is much easier when you trade expectations for appreciation.
- For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). When I feel fearful, I know it’s not coming from God. As a Jesus-follower, I know fear is external. God’s perfect love drives out fear, and, in His wisdom, God allows what He could easily prevent with His power. So, I must focus on the two fundamental factors of human enlightenment . . . there is a God, and I am not Him. “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Romans 9:20)
- You can tell what someone values by what they celebrate. We are so accustomed to forward motion and progress that we grow restless without it. The constant noise and commotion around us deny us the silence and solitude we need to be healthy. Because life is moving fast and in a straight line, it’s easy to fear anything slow and circular. As activists by nature, withdrawal is hard work. But now is a great opportunity to “celebrate time rather than space . . . to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel)
My friend John says the Christian walk is like a steeplechase horse race, where I am the horse, and God is the rider. The Father leads me around the “course,” where together, we take on progressively more difficult jumps requiring more faith. Like the steeplechase, when I don’t make the jump (or try to avoid it), God takes me back to the start to complete the missed jump before we tackle the next obstacle.
For a long time, I’ve heard God telling me to rejoice, to slow down, to breathe deeply and soak in His goodness. I feel Him down on one knee, hand on my shoulder, looking me in the eye, saying, “My son, have joy in this moment . . . stop worrying and trying to maximize and optimize each minute. Feel my glory. Be thankful. Be still and wait patiently for me. Fear not!”
Regi said there are only two times for Jesus-followers to focus on . . . right now and eternity. These are the only two times that exist. So, as the world slows down over the coming weeks and months, what’s the steeplechase jump facing you right now? A more grateful heart? Living in less fear? Being still before the Lord, listening for His voice?
Focus on making that jump as you move toward loving God and serving others. If you’re stuck, just do the next right thing. It will all be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
Scripture: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)
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