Amy Engle

Expanding the range of science fiction

Fool-Proof Plans

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

I’m a fairly independent person. I almost always did very well in school, I’ve been blessed with quite a bit of wisdom, and I feel like I’ve accomplished quite a bit in my life time so far.

And yet, for all the good things in my life and all the advantages I’ve had, there have been ten times as many failures. Sure, with my in-born gifts, I can do quite a bit. But my brain tends to be very one-sided, so there are definitely plenty of things that I really stink at.

Learning to trust and depend on God has been quite a challenge my whole life. I like being in control and proving that I can do things on my own. But the truth of the matter is, I honestly don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I’ve had many a times when I sat sobbing alone because of how lost and incompetent I felt. And yet, those were the moments that God was able to take over and show me what he had planned for me.

Pride and impatience get in the way of submission. Despite countless rescues from my arrogance, I still forget how much easier it is to give my life to God. I fight him for control. This is mostly out of fear of the unknown. I stubbornly refuse to let Him guide me. And then I fail and fail and fail again.

But believing that He knows what He’s doing and trusting in His plan have brought me such a calming peace of mind. When something happens in my life, I ask God for help and request that He reveals to me what needs to be done.

Exiling Worry

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

 

To say that I had a rough childhood would be an understatement. I dealt with health issues from a young age, the quality of my intellect was constantly under attack due to my lack of years, friendships were superficial and often short-lived, and had very little control over the use of my time. As a result, my anxiety sky-rocketed.

 

With each new year, I became sicker and sicker. I was a giant bundle of raw nerves, feeling helpless and overwhelmed. In my teen years, I learned to cope by developing a controlling nature. Still, when I came across a situation that I hadn’t anticipated or couldn’t see a way out of, I reverted back to the frightened child I kept locked deep inside me, unable to deal with the fresh wave of stress crashing over me. It was a very unhealthy time in my life and I regularly dealt with depression.

 

I remember sitting in my Bible Study group of ladies during my senior year of high school. Now, I had generally learned to keep my freak-out sessions to the privacy of my bedroom. But as we shared our prayer requests, I unloaded all my woes on my companions.

 

College was around the corner and I had no idea what I was going to do. What was I going to major in? Where was I going to go? How was I going to pay for all of it? Was I capable enough to work full-time while completing my classes? I felt pressure to do pass all my classes with As’s, but I was experiencing difficulty with a handful of subjects. And then there was my social anxiety preventing me from making close connections with certain peers as well as my lack of confidence around boys–who seemed to be avoiding me like the plague. You throw in constant nerve pain and never-ending fatigue and you create the perfect situation to deplete any semblance of joy in a young woman’s life.

 

As I sat in embarrassment with tears in my eyes, the Bible Study leader–we’ll call her Mrs. T–only had one recommendation. She opened her Bible and had me read Matthew 6:25-34. When I finished, it hadn’t given me any relief. So I read it a second time. I then ranted that I didn’t care what I ate or what clothes I wore. That’s why I was over-weight and the popular people didn’t want to be my friend.

 

Unrelenting, Mrs. T told me that she wanted me to memorize that passage. She added that she was going to quiz me every week.

 

Rote-memorization had never been a skill I’ve been able to master. So I blew it off and was unable to recite it. But Mrs. T worked with me and after a couple months I was able to say most of it word-for-word without much help. It took time, but these verses quieted my mind.

 

Everything eventually worked out. I had prayed extensively my senior year of high school. I asked God for a way to pay for school without being in debt half my life. I asked him to guide my decisions so that I ended up in the degree program that He wanted me to get into. I even calmed enough to meet new people and learn how to develop close friendships–many of whom I still keep in touch with today.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong–memorizing these verses won’t make anxiety go away. I still have my flare ups when I feel as though my world has been turned up-side-down. But knowing how God has helped me in the past reassures me that He has a perfect plan for me.

 

What I find especially comforting about this passage is the last half of Verse 26. I am reminded that I am valuable to God. He wants to take care of me and give me what I need. I just need to learn to ask Him for help. Like I said, I’m a control-freak. Giving up power is hard for me. But I’ve really learned over the years that there’s no shame in asking for assistance, especially when I’m requesting it from the all-knowing, all-powerful God that created me and loves me no matter what I’ve done.

 

So I’m going to encourage you to seek after God in the unknown moments–when you’re not sure where the money is going to come from, or when you’re trying to fix a relationship, or when you’re tired of a health problem that’s keeping you from enjoying life. Remember: you are valuable! God loves you and wants the best things for you. You just need to stop worrying and seek after Him.

Poems on Wattpad

I’ve been hearing for years about Wattpad. I’ve been hesitant to post anything on there because I’m such a perfectionist and don’t like people seeing my writing until it is ready.

However, I’ve recently been told by several authors that it’s a great way to get some feedback and honest critiques. Since it’s usually strangers writing comments, I can know that they aren’t just saying nice things to make me feel good as a writer.

So I’m starting simple and just putting my poetry collection on Wattpad. I might put up some short stories in the next few weeks to see what people think.

Steps to Goodness

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

We live in a world where it’s a popular belief to depend on one’s understanding. I hear people say that each person’s own truth is the perfect truth and path for each individual.

This ideology makes my skin crawl!

I work with 12 and 13 year olds. I’ve heard and seen things that will make the common man gasp and feel uncomfortable. If what little tweens think and say is considered to be okay, then there is something seriously flawed with that ideology.

We are so afraid to be politically incorrect and “offend” someone, that we simply smile as say that each person is entitled to their own opinion. But I think most people can agree that our country has lost a lot of what has made it special and influential by dropping its standards.

Now, I understand that we live in a wonderful country with many freedoms–the freedom of religion for example. You can choose to believe in one deity, hundreds of them, or none at all. That’s fine. I’m not disputing that at all.

But I do want to point out a theory on goodness that has stood for thousands of years. God, the creator of the world, wants us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This is the formula for understanding what is good.

Step 1: Act justly.

This doesn’t mean that you need to go around and judge everyone around you and condemn their souls to eternal damnation if they don’t repent. It means to be fair in your dealings with men and women, not trying to cheat or abuse them for your own personal gain.

Step 2: Love mercy.

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness. When you have the opportunity to punish or harm someone for their misdeeds, choose instead to have gentle heart and forgive them. This doesn’t mean to let someone walk all over you and let them hurt you over and over again. Loving mercy is more like understanding that none of us are perfect and we make mistakes sometimes. There is a merciful God that loves you no matter what you’ve done and wants to give you another chance. Extend that to your fellow man as well.

Step 3: Walk humbly.

Us humans are selfish by nature. We wish to take care of ourselves to preserve our own lives. But God tells us to push those egocentric feelings aside and care for other people. Think about a time in your life when you needed help. Did someone give up some of their time and/or resources to aid you in your time of need? Didn’t you feel grateful and blessed at their assistance? If more of us did what we could for the less fortunate, this world would be a much brighter place to live.

Handling Fear

Fear is a natural thing. It is a reminder–a warning from past mistakes that caution you to take care. As much as we all like to put on a brave face, fear is something that EVERYONE feels.

 

It’s something that has ruled my decisions and outlook on life for years. The past twelve months in particular were full of moments when I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my 28 years. Although I knew all those moments were learning opportunities, they still plagued my heart and damaged my spirit.

 

I’ve been going back and forth on a fairly important decision for months now. My naturally-occurring optimism wants me to decide one way, while my fear of failure and being unworthy is leaning towards the other.

 

Steven Furtick tweeted something today that really hit home for me: “Faith doesn’t eliminate fear. It enables you to handle it. (See Exodus 4:1-4)” The verse is when God is dispelling all of Moses reasons why he shouldn’t be sent to Pharaoh. Moses says that no one will believe him. So what does God do? He gives Moses the ability to turn his staff into a snake! I’m pretty sure that Moses had no idea that God would do that for him. He still had some doubts, but Moses had faith in the Lord and was able to overcome his fears of not being good enough.

 

I’m obviously not Moses. God hasn’t appeared to me and told me that I’m going to save His people, but I do believe that God has a special plan for me. It’s okay to be afraid and worried; I’m human and I have my frailties. However, I don’t have to give in to them. I can be confident that God will equip me with what I need to do what He has called me to do.

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