Fearless by Vanessa Samuel

Please Welcome Vanessa Samuel’s empowered life to our scene…

Fearless

A strange sound startled me. 2:30 am. Heart pounding, I leapt to my feet with a sense of dread. I ran into my three-year-old son’s room and found him unconscious, shaking and moaning in the throws of a seizure.

The first time he had a seizure, I was terrified. But now, the third time, I felt an ominous cloud creep over my life. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t leave his side. I couldn’t leave him unattended in the bathroom, or playing cars in his bedroom. I couldn’t think about anything else. The seizures were so sudden, so unpredictable.

I tried to explain to my husband and extended family why I kept snapping like an overstretched rubber band. Despite their attempts at comfort, I felt alone. I was losing ground in the most intense battle with fear I had ever fought before.

It was less than two weeks before Christmas; we had just moved; I had our three young children to look after and “put on a happy face” for. I had to be strong. But I did not feel strong at all. I felt broken. I had so many questions, and no human response could settle them.

Where do I even start, God? What am I supposed to do? How can I protect my child? How will I ever sleep again?

Then I heard His loving whisper. “Do you trust Me with your children? I gave them to you. Do you know that I love and care for them even more than you do?”

Oh, trust. Trust.

Fear tells me it’s not easy to trust Him. It will cost. His eternal perspective chooses character over comfort, growth over short-term success, heavenly value over earthly happiness.

But that’s because He – all powerful, eternal, wise, perfect, pure, and good – loves us enough to pull us into His beauty and goodness, despite the fact that it cost Him everything. Like a loving parent, He walks through these struggles by our side, revealing purpose in our pain and giving real hope to our souls. His way is not easy, but I can trust in His love.

That is when it changed. Not my circumstances; my confidence. I found freedom from fear. As 1 John 4:18 states, “No fear exists where His love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear.” The more I trust Him, the less I have to fear.

When seizures struck again months later, I found myself waiting at home for my husband to text updates from the hospital. In the tension of the moment, my older son turned to me and said, “Mom, I learned this verse today: ‘Jesus said, “Take courage; I am here.’” (Matt. 14:27)

With those words, the mounting storm in my soul stopped. And His love, not fear, won.

-Vanessa Samuel

A note about Vanessa: Vanessa Samuel loves Jesus, and loves using language – written, spoken, visual, musical, and creative – to praise Him. She also loves gardening, running, learning new things, and going on God-led adventures with her awesome husband. She is in the process of learning how to homeschool her three young children, and enjoys seeing the world from their perspective.

Proven Provider

On a Sunday morning, I stand at the front and deem God Provider. Just as soon as the words jump out of my mouth one man’s story confronts my assertion.

He stands after and waits to speak. Suffering. He and his family have suffered. Listening is almost more than I can bear. He is angry with God and cannot believe that I call him Provider. I don’t blame him.

There are no easy answers for human suffering. God is good. And there is suffering. Both are true.

There is much we do not understand – there is life after death that mankind has guessed and dreamed and wondered about since the beginning of time – but we all know there is more…. Something inside says the soul lives on…

Josh McDowell asserts, Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, is a liar, lunatic or Savior. There are no other options. So … Who is He?

Who Is this Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God? Did he really rise?

The disciples had no reason or method to steal the body or move the massive rock. No one would have chosen to cook up a story claiming that women made the ultimate empty-tomb discovery. At the time – an empty tomb found by men would have been a whole lot more credible. And can we remember the wild enthusiasm of the disciples after they saw Christ resurrected … the passion that sent them throughout the entire world to tell the truth to the world? Yes, the soul lives on, and the greatest questions ever posed have finally been answered by nail scarred hands and a wounded side. The disciples became love-sick martyrs because they had seen Him with their own eyes. And seeing the resurrection of Christ changes everything. He is the proven Provider.

It changes everything.

Suffering exists. But if the resurrection is true: Then suffering wasn’t intended in the beginning. Then humans chose to let it in. Then God hates injustice with more fierceness imaginable. Then God’s love was so emphatic for people He commissioned His Son … His Son… to go and make a path for restoration. To take it all. Every sin. Every sickness. Every suffering. In that moment light seared darkness and death lost. Then suffering is not the end of the story.

Suffering is not the end of the story… We can’t comprehend the hope of Heaven – it is too great. However, God says His presence is enough for us to live this day with faith. We can confidently believe that what happened on the cross was sufficient for us and will connect us to Him today, in the midst of a sin-stained-beauty-mixed-world with the assurance that one day, we will see all things restored. Then we will see on full and marked display … that the resurrection changes everything and He really is Proven Provider.

Change for Change

The underdog, long shot, weaker one, the little guy, the sitting target, the downtrodden. Why do we have a tendency to pull for these ones? Our brains are actually hard wired for hope, to believe that positive change is possible.

Right now, high schools across the city are opening their doors for annual “Open House” events splattering students with new information and opportunities. These students get to choose, and choice is great power in this world.

Last night I walked with a big number six around the hallways of the high school I teach at as we enthusiastically moved from one presentation to another – teachers and students displaying the unique learning opportunities in our building. It was fun to hear students show interest in different areas. Some gawked at the photo lab, others were drawn to yummy sweet treats in process in the cooking lab. Others hopped in the science room (and left sporting a fine static hair do).

As our group walked down one hallway, one parent turned to me and remarked, “This is intimidating as a parent, I can’t imagine being a student!” Intimidating… I was disappointed to think that with all of the fascinating options before these students, many likely felt intimidated. Some may even leave feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and disengaged – even though all of them have abilities and skills that can be developed so they can contribute and make change.

The classic education mantra remains: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

But maybe the best change happens when we change.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Tolstoy

As long as we feel intimidated or like we don’t have much to offer, that belief will dictate our actions, and we will live small lives. One student told on the second day of class that he does not believe its possible to pass the course. Whatever he chooses to believe about passing, he will be right. My privilege is to convince Him he has something to offer – pass, fail or otherwise. I believe His mindset can change. So can mine. This is hope – and we are hard wired for it.

Hoping for change is not always exciting; sometimes it’s downright hard. This week, I also continued to pray for things to change in a heart-breaking situation … Years have passed – still no change.

Yesterday in a meeting a colleague said, “What is the Gospel after all? It’s the belief that people really do change.”

And I was reminded again. We don’t need to wait until our situation changes to experience change ourselves. To receive more peace, more strength, more joy and more love from God. This is how he wants to be changing us, daily, if we let him.

We are hard wired for hope – and maybe in order to reorder anything around us – we must believe we can change. Change for change.

Let Go

One week ago highway snowdrifts sent a small Subaru shifting back and forth on a Saskatchewan highway. Traction was gone and the beauty of night ice shone in our swerving light beams. I wondered which one of us would take the blow of the oncoming truck as our vehicle continued to spin out of control. Control. Who is in control, after all? In those moments, I was deeply aware of my own frailty and there was One Helper I knew controlled all.

There are so many things about our lives we cannot control. Sometimes we try desperately to clench the things we think we can. Trying to control gives us a false sense of security and all the clasping and squeezing is exhausting. We weren’t made to live clenched up tight. We can care without clenching and we can feel fear without breaking or faking strength. We can just feel it with brave unclenched fingertips stretched out to that One Helper.

We cannot steer out of every swerve, but His Sovereignty and kindness can sustain us within it. We will not always walk away unscathed, life is uncertain, but He is not. We cannot piece together what is broken but we can know peace before anything is fixed. We can trust Him to do deep fixing, knowing well He loves us the same all throughout the process. How can He though? How can He love the same throughout the process, the mess and the fixing? His love doesn’t depend on the state of my soul or yours, it never has.

After the spinning stopped with minimal damage and the journey continued, I asked my friend about the value of a life in the country she comes from. She said in Syria, the human does not have the same value as in Canada. Many are regarded as dogs or fleas. To be human means to be something in Canada.

To the Christian, to be human means God invested in your make-up big time, and His love for human souls is insurmountable. This kind of love couldn’t stop at Eden’s tree, or Eve’s distrust, but thrust Christ the Roman Tree for the reclaiming of all human souls. Real love is always a choice, so God lets us make it and there He hangs offering life to all as His own life blood flows out.

After our highway spin stopped, my mind continued to. Our clenching hands tease us making us feel powerful, competent, certain and safe. What if there is something better than safety and more constant than your own competence? What if you don’t have room in your hands to clench both? Let go. As you experience the inevitable free fall that comes after letting go, choose to remain there, don’t cling for the safety of a cliff. It’s not really safe there.

You will discover something better in the free fall. Movement you never thought possible and surprising moments of exhilaration. Moments of fear will undoubtedly come, but don’t let them drive you back to the clenching of the cliff. Instead, let love drive it out. It is Love who is truly at the wheel anyways.