Faith over Fear

By Kristen Entwistle

We’re all afraid of something.

The dark.  Water.   Falling.  Public speaking.  Looking like a fool.  Spiders.

Disappointing our friends or family.  Fear of what others will think.  Fear of loss.  Fear of failure.

Fear can be a powerful motivator – one that keeps us trapped in awful situations with no escape.  One that keeps us from doing something outside our comfort zone.

Fear can keep us from living life to the fullest.

Fear can keep us from following the will of God.

Fear is a natural human emotion.  “Do not fear”  or “Do not be afraid” appear not once, not twice, but 365 times in Scripture.  It’s something that we need to hear, apparently.  And we need to hear it a lot.

It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone.  It’s scary to move away from everything you know for school or a job.  It’s terrifying to be the only one who will stand up for Who they believe in.  Stepping out in faith usually starts with fear.

Fear can enslave us, keep us from ever moving forward.  Fear can paralyze us, keeping us from spreading God’s love and Truth.  Fear can root itself in our lives and keep us trapped in abusive relationships, dead end jobs, and bad situations.

But faith is bigger than fear.

Our God is bigger than any fear that stands in our way.  Our God is stronger than any wave that threatens to knock us down.

Abram was certainly afraid when God called him to leave everything he knew and pick up and move.  Noah was certainly afraid when God told him to build a boat.  Moses was afraid when God called him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt.  The prophets feared for their lives as they spread the words of the Lord.  Mary was afraid when the angel told her that she would give birth to the Christ.  Paul was certainly afraid on many occasions during his ministry.  John must have been terrified when he received the vision of Revelation.

If these men and women could place their faith in God, a God many of them had never seen, how much more should we, who have seen death defeated by Christ, the curtain torn in two, and Christ raised, put our faith in Him?

He has called us His children, His people, His chosen, His beloved.  He has called us to be free.  We are no longer slaves to fear.  It doesn’t rule our lives.  It doesn’t trap us, consume us, or dictate our actions.  If we place our faith in the One who has conquered death, we have no reason to fear.  He will not let us fall.  He will not fail us.

Fear will always be a part of our lives.  But we are not slave to it anymore.  Praise God.

They Were The First

By Kristen Entwistle

Thirteen weeks ago I taught my first college class.  “Dr. E” they called me – a name I grew up hearing, but it didn’t refer to me.  It was my dad.

Thirteen weeks ago I stood in front of 31 students and told them that we were going to make it through this semester of organic chemistry together.  “Yeah, right,” they told me.  “We’ll never get this.  It’s too hard.”

Thirteen weeks ago, I stood in front of 15 other students and told them that we were going to cover all of biochemistry in one semester, because that’s what the course catalog said.  “You’re kidding,” they said to me.  “You’ve got to be kidding.”

As I look out now over my class, I can see how far they’ve come.  How much more they know now than they did before.  How proud I am of them.  How grateful I am that they were my first.

My first classes, my first students.  The first ones to laugh at me and with me, the first ones to point out the carbon I was missing on the board, or that I had assigned the wrong chapter’s homework.  The first ones to cut their finger in the lab and have to go to the ER.  The first ones to break glassware and try to pick it up with their bare hands.  The first ones to tell me that the instrument is broken or that something I said I put on the course website wasn’t there.  The first ones to roll their eyes at me when I told a bad joke, the first ones to ask for points back on tests and quizzes and papers, the first ones to cry in my office, the first ones to smile when they got something right.

I will always remember these students, the ones who taught me more about myself than I think I taught them.  I may forget their names, and definitely their grades.  But I will never forget them, because they were my first.

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These students have taught me how to laugh at my own mistakes, and to move on with grace, humility and laughter.  They have taught me how to be a better teacher, a better mentor, a better friend.  They have taught me what it means to be vulnerable and honest, even when it seems impossible and impractical.  They have encouraged me and challenged me every day – and they’ve likely given me a few gray hairs, too.

There will be other classes, more students.  But there will never be another first.  And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

There’s A First Time For Everything

By Kristen Entwistle

Growing up, I always had a thought in the back of my mind that I might not live long enough to do what I envisioned myself doing.  I always wondered if I’d be able to do what everyone told me I could do.

Tomorrow, I get to do just that for the first time.

Tomorrow, I get to walk into that classroom not as student, but as professor.  With as much responsibility as that comes with, I am so excited, and also so grateful.  I can’t imagine a better place to be starting my teaching career, alongside some pretty incredible men and women of God.

I don’t think I ever really let myself imagine that this could be possible, even after I signed the paperwork that said I really was a professor of chemistry.  It didn’t really become real until now – 12 hours before I teach my first class for the first time.

I am so incredibly blessed to be this healthy, to have this job, to be doing and teaching what I love.  I have been given more than I ever could have asked or imagined, just as He has promised.  How amazing that He could use me, a broken, imperfect child of God in His perfect plan, His infinite wisdom.

When I walk into that classroom tomorrow, it will be with an attitude of thankfulness, excitement, and a little bit of apprehension.  Somehow, by the grace of God, I will make it through my first day as a professor, and so will my students.  And I will continue to be ever thankful that God has brought me here, to a place where I never really thought I’d come.

Thanks be to God.

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I Am Not An Olympian

By Kristen Entwistle

Watching the Olympics this week has been a lot of fun.  I love watching Michael Phelps swim butterfly – it’s just so beautiful.  Watching Katie Ledecky absolutely crush the competition and prove that she is the best distance swimmer in the world.  Watching April Ross and Kerri Walsh-Jennings dominate in the sand.  Watching the American women’s gymnastics team make history.  Watching Usain Bolt run – he makes it look so easy.

It’s amazing what these athletes are able to accomplish.  How good they are at what they do.  It makes me want to better – watching them.  It makes me want to swim faster, run faster, train harder, be stronger.  And it also makes me feel a bit disappointed with myself – that I’m not that good.  That I don’t swim that fast, run that fast, or can even do a handstand.

But as I keep watching this year’s Olympic games, I’m remembering that it’s not about how good I am compared to everyone else – whether in sports or in life.  It’s not about how fast I am compared to Katie Ledecky, or how much money I make compared to my former grad school colleagues, or how my children behave compared to others, or how many books I sell or how many Facebook followers I have.  It’s not about that.  At all.

I may not be an Olympian, but I am still loved by the God of the Universe.

I may not make the most money possible, but God provides.

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I may not sell many books or have 300,000 Facebook followers, but I do what I do for the glory of God, not for the recognition of people.

God has given me unique talents and gifts, and those gifts don’t make me an Olympian or a best-selling author, or the richest person. It makes me…well, me.  And I am a child of God, loved beyond measure, forgiven and free.

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Headlights

By Kristen Entwistle

I was driving home late last night, down one of those two lane country roads in Indiana.  Turns out, there’s a lot of those roads, and I’m pretty unfamiliar with them right now.  You see, I just moved here, and I’m still learning my way around.  I don’t know which roads twist and turn or which ones are likely to have horses and buggies on them.  I don’t know which ones have stop signs every half mile, and which ones go on forever.

Most of these roads have a ditch on either side of them and people who drive like maniacs.  Oh, and people who blind you with their high beams.

As I was driving down that two lane road last night, it was a little scary – not being able to see more than a hundred feet in front of you and not knowing what’s up ahead.

It’s kind of like life, isn’t it?  God gives us these glimpses of what He is calling us to do, these rare moments of certainty where we can see a hundred feet in front of us.  But we can’t see what’s coming.  We can’t see that there’s a sharp turn or a stop sign up ahead.  That cancer is going to hit us seemingly out of nowhere or that a close friend is going to die unexpectedly.  But we can’t see the good things too – the new baby, the extra money that just showed up in the budget – all we can see is what God illuminates before us.

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Occasionally we get a glimpse of what’s coming when there’s a house light on, or a gas station.  But not very often.  Most of the time we’re still in the dark, with only our headlights.

Walking in faith isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not without its difficulties.  But we’ve got a God who can see all the twists and turns and stop signs because He built the road.  He knows what lies ahead for us and He guides us through it.

We may end up in the ditch sometimes, or make a wrong turn, but still He shows us the way, one step at a time.

Immeasurably More

By Kristen Entwistle

I was cleaning out my desk the other day and found something pretty amazing: God’s provision.

I’m packing up my apartment to move a few hours away, and so, naturally, I was cleaning out my desk – you know, throwing away old papers that I really shouldn’t have kept in the first place, getting rid of the things that I just threw in the drawer over the last four years…and I came across some old cards.

I tend to keep things…probably longer than I should. But be that as it may, I’m glad that I kept these.  They’re cards from very dear friends that were written as I was graduating college and moving to Michigan.  I opened them up and started reading them…smiling at the memories and laughing at the inside jokes from long ago.

And as I opened each card, the same thing kept staring me in the face.  Each of these people who were so dear to me had written similar things, among the jokes and stories and laughs.  Each of them had said that they were praying I would find a good, Godly church in Michigan.  That God would bring me good friends at all of the right turns in my life.  That God would provide.

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And He has provided – all of those things.  More than I could ever have imagined.

He brought me to a church, where I have been able to serve and love and grow, where I have been blessed with a family of God that is so dear to me.  It’s been a place where I have seen the kids I watch grow up and change and learn.  Where a Sunday doesn’t go by that I don’t get a hug from at least one of my little ones, brightening even the darkest week.  Where I have been encouraged to lead and to write and to serve.  Where I have been loved.  Where I have walked life with some amazing people – the hard times and the good times.

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God has not only brought me good friends – He has brought me great ones.  Friends that I am going to miss terribly, but who will remain friends for the rest of my life.  Friends who challenge me, encourage me – friends who have changed me for the better.  Friends who let me love their kids – and who love me.  Friends who share life with me – and I with them.  Friends who pray with me and for me and let me pray for them.  Friends who have shown me the love of Christ.

When I read those cards four years ago for the first time, I trusted that God would provide through the prayers of my friends.  But I didn’t know until now, reading them again, just how much He has provided.  So if you’re wondering if God is good – let me remind you.  He is.  If you’re doubting that He can provide what it is you need – let me remind you.  He can, and He will.  If you’re in the middle of a trying season, and you’re hanging on for dear life – let me encourage you.  He’s got you.  He’s not gonna let go.  He will provide – and He will do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine.