That is just such a beautiful message that we can just kind of sit in. And so all month long we are talking about how to overcome our fear through our faith in the Lord. And if you didn't listen to last week's teaching episode, I would encourage you to go back and listen to that because it'll really give you some more context of our verse. Today we are talking with Jamie Ivy. Welcome Jamie.
Jamie: Hi, Natalie. Thank you for having me.
Natalie: Yeah, so glad to have you. For those of you who don't know Jamie, she is an author, a speaker, she hosts the Happy Hour Podcast, she's a host of a talk show called Better Together, she kind of just does all the things. You're living like five lives right now!
Jamie: When you say it like that, it does sound like it, you know, but it feels a lot. It feels like a lot. It's a lot, but it's a little of a lot and it's so much fun.
Natalie: Isn't that so funny? I just talked to a woman who retired and she was like, now I get to do all the fun things. And I'm like, I feel like my job actually is all the fun things, which is great. I don't ever want to retire.
I just wanna keep doing this forever. It's amazing. It's a good feeling. If I understand this correctly our memory verse is your life verse. Is that right?
Jamie: Well, that feels like putting something in a box for me, Natalie, so it feels a little crazy for me.
But I will tell you, this verse has been monumental in several hard seasons of my life, and it is a verse that I adore, adore, adore, adore. And when you say it like that, I'm like, I need a life verse. I don't have a life verse. And so maybe by the end of today this will be my life verse!
Natalie: Yeah. It's funny because I don't really have a life verse, but then there are a couple verses that just like travel with me through life and I always go back to them and I'm like, okay. I think maybe that’s it actually.
Jamie: For me with this [00:02:00] particular verse, we can talk about it, but I can pinpoint different seasons of pulling it up. You know what I mean? Like, oh, that was so strong for me then, so. We'll go with a life verse.
Natalie: All right. Jamie Ivy's life first right here, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it first. Okay, so the verse without further ado is from Psalm 27, 1. It says this, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?”
It's just such a great verse. It's in that first person, so as somebody who's reading that, it's like, I can say that and I can claim that. I can just repeat it word for word and say, yes Lord, you are my life. You are my salvation. Who am I supposed to be afraid of if you're on my side? I don't have any reason to be afraid. It's just such a great verse and I am really excited that it's such an important verse to you. I really think that that's something we strive for— getting somebody on the podcast who either loves a verse or really knows a verse or loves a concept and the verse. So you are the right person. I'm so glad that you're with us. Before we jump into that verse, I have just like an icebreaker type question for you.
What was your biggest childhood fear and what about it was scary to you?
Jamie: I am someone who struggles with fear in general. It's kind of a go-to thing for me. I have seen so much growth in my life. I have an example right now that I just have seen so much growth in my life. But when I was a child, I remember one of my biggest fears was that my dad would die.
Even when I say it out loud, I have no idea where it came from because I don't have a memory of a childhood friend who lost a parent, you know? Maybe because we would watch Dateline all the time and maybe I was inundated with all these crimes? That was what our family would watch on Friday nights.
I love [00:04:00] it so much. I love those types of shows. But I was always so afraid that my dad would die and it wasn't anything against my mom, I adore my mom. But I didn't have that same fear with my mom. There was just this really strong fear from a little girl that she would lose her dad. I don't know that I ever really got over that, other than I grew up a little bit and here I am and my dad, by the grace of God, is still alive.
Like all those things, and that fear doesn't plague me today. It's transferred into, you know, probably my husband. But yeah, that was my big fear growing up is that my dad would die.
Natalie: Oh my gosh, that is actually such a terrible fear. I thought you were going to say something like, I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of spiders.
Jamie: No death. Like probably if we were to spend a lot of time together, Natalie, and you were to put on like a counselor hat, it would probably go super deep into being alone or being forgotten or not being taken care of. Those are probably still deep, deep fears. That underneath the surface you can say, oh, I'm afraid my husband will die.
Well, really, it would probably come down to what would that mean for me? I would be alone. I would have to do everything by myself. I wouldn't have a partner. All of the realities would be a real fear for me. So maybe it was that with my dad, I don't know.
Natalie: Isn't that funny? Because I feel like so many of us are afraid of death.
But we're not afraid of death in the sense that we're afraid somebody else is gonna die and leave us. We're afraid that we are gonna die.
Jamie: Yeah. But I think I'm probably afraid of being alone. And that translated for me in that way as a child.
Natalie: Wow. Okay. So what about now? Would you say that's still your biggest fear or are there other things?
Jamie: I would say death is not a big fear for me. Even if I would've transferred that to Aaron, it would be a little bit more realistic.
You know, I'm 45. I'm not saying that death is at my doorway, but I'm saying you get to an age where you start to go, well, we're all, we're all gonna die. That's a fact. A hundred percent of us, everyone will die. But you get to a point in life where you're like, that is closer than it has [00:06:00] ever been. And again, I'm not old, but the realities of the world we live in, my fears now would be something happening to my marriage.
Not death for sure. You know, but maybe infidelity or Aaron decides he wants a new wife, which none of these are on the horizon. Like I always feel like I need to say this. We're thriving in our marriage right now. We've had some hard seasons, but we're thriving.
But it has been a fear of mine for 23 years of marriage, you know? But I don't dwell on it anymore. I don't. I've grown so much. And then also Natalie, having four kids, I mean, when you have kids all of a sudden those fears become just amplified the older they get. My kids are all teenagers and so I don't fear them dying. I fear them making really stupid decisions, you know? Which is also a hundred percent rate for teenagers. You know, the levels vary, but we've all been teenagers. We made stupid decisions. And so as a parent, you watch your kids and you're like, Well, that's a dumb decision. Probably, in all seriousness, I would fear my kid's not loving God. I mean, that's a fear of mine. Both my husband and I are in ministry and there's some complexities that come along with that.
And my husband was raised in a pastor's home and he knows the difficulties that come along with that. And so, raising four kids with parents in public ministry, I sometimes feel sorry for my kids. I mean, you know, I'm like, I want your faith to be your own. I don't wanna push anything on you.
And yet my greatest fear is that you don't want it. That's probably a really big fear.
Natalie: I share that fear as well. For sure. Yeah. I grew up not going to church, and so for me, my husband's a pastor and we have five kids and they go to church all the time. And for me, Jesus was like this huge [00:08:00] revelation and oh my gosh, I never heard that. It's amazing and whatever. And I'm like, is it gonna be mundane to them? And then they also feel kind of that weighty pressure of expectation. That as much as we try to avoid it, it's still there. It's still there.
Jamie: Just yesterday we walked into church and we go to a fairly large church, but we walked in and someone said, “Hey, Ivey's, what's up Amos?” to one of my kids? And we walked off and Amos was like, I have no idea who that was. Which is like, everyone knows who our family is. Also three of my kids are adopted, so you can't really miss us. I said, does it bother you? And he said, no. But sometimes I wonder, does that really bother you as a kid, that everybody knows who you are when you walk into a building? That’s part of our reality and there's nothing I can do about it. What can I do? Nothing.
Natalie: No, no. It's like when my kids are in Sunday school class and the teacher expects that they're gonna know the answer and be the good kid in class. And I'm like, you don't have that expectation for any other kid. They're like, well, no one knows the answer. What about you Silas? You know, of course.
Jamie: Let me tell you this, a couple years ago when my daughter was in like second grade, she's a freshman now. Friends in our neighborhood, they go to a different church. I wouldn't qualify it as a Christian Church, and they offered her a Bible.
And this is my second grade daughter who has been in church her whole life. Her dad's a pastor, her mom does ministry. And she goes, yeah, I would love it. I don't have a Bible. And I was like, yes you do. You have seven. There's seven Bibles and if you walk downstairs, there's 27 in the living room.
Oh my gosh. Just so funny cuz she's like, I don't even have a Bible. And I'm like, Baby, yes, you do. We have this one. Remember, we read this one? I mean, it was just like, oh, that is this moment of like, okay, pastor's kids, it's okay. It's okay. It's okay.
Natalie: Yes. Those are definitely fears. Those are fears that I also struggle with. Well, let's dive into this verse. This verse that says, [00:10:00] that the Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? You know, so shall I fear loneliness? Shall I fear my kids not loving the Lord? Whatever it is. Shall I fear that my finances are gonna fail? That I'm gonna lose my job? That this person is gonna leave me? You know, whom shall I fear? If the Lord is my light and my salvation? If the Lord is the stronghold of my life, then the implied answer is, shall I fear no one?
So much of us overcoming our fears is dependent on who we see God to be. Here, David is telling us that God is my light. He is my salvation. Not just the salvation, but my salvation, my light, my stronghold. I think if we look at each of these three images that David uses, I think it puts specific fears to death in our lives.
That fear of loneliness or that fear of missing out or that fear of losing a job or relationships that we have that we don't wanna lose. How do each of these things answer that specific fear?
I want to go through and just talk through each of those specific ideas because I think David chose those images for a reason, and each one of them is sort of an answer to a specific kind of fear. So if we look at, for instance, that God is our light, what fear does that combat in us?
Jamie: You know, the word light is very interesting to me, and I actually have been thinking, Natalie, that I wanna dive into it. And so it's just really interesting that we're having this conversation today. Because I feel like it's a little nudge from the Lord. But the word light is used a lot by Jesus in the New Testament as well.
He calls himself the light, and then he says that we as followers are the light as well. And I think that there's this idea that we can be like, well the world is so, so evil. True. Okay. The [00:12:00] world is so, so dark. Yes. But we can sometimes feel like it's darker today than it's ever been.
And so there's this fear of the world, you know? Like the world is out to get us. Everyone in the world is going to try to take us down. And that's really nuanced and there might be some truth in there, but I don't subscribe to the idea that 2023 is the worst time that it's ever been to be alive.
Especially when our brothers and sisters who were the first Christians, like they might laugh at us in America for the ways that we are feeling this is the worst time to ever be alive in the world. I saw a meme on Instagram the other day that said, “If Paul was alive today, the American church would be getting a letter.” And I was like, that was funny—but all that to say, Jesus has always called his kids the light. He's always called us the light. And God has always called Jesus that. And so we see this and I look at it and I'm like, if the Lord is my light, it means I don't have to fear the darkness of the world.
I don't have to fear what the world is saying.This is how we're going to define these certain terms. This is how we're going to demand that you do this way. We don't have to be afraid of that because the light is always stronger than the darkness. And it's almost like we can start to fear like, okay, well the dark is just gonna take over.
I just don't think that's true. I don't think it's possible. I think that God is bigger than the darkness. And so when you start to fear the world, when you start to fear what's happening at your kid's school district, when you start to fear what this president or that president or the future president is doing, or whatever it might look like, we can actually say this verse and say, you know what?
The Lord is my light. He wins. He shines bright no matter how dark we feel that it gets. So that's what it defeats for me.
Natalie: I love that answer. It reminds me of John 1:5 that says “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has [00:14:00] not overcome it.” And that verse is talking about Jesus. God has the end all figured out. And even in Revelation, there is no need for the sun anymore. There is no light of the moon because God is the light and he's the one who is shining over all things. And it is brilliant and beautiful. And so you're right, that imagery of light, we see it throughout all of the picture of God's redemptive history.
It's beautiful that God says that about himself, that I am the light and that Jesus says you are a light on a hill. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. You know, hide your, hide your flame under a bushel. Oh no!
Jamie: Right. That also, Natalie, is one of my favorite verses in all the scriptures, Matthew 5:14. And you guys have done something really special for me with that verse. I have it hanging up in my office.
Natalie: Do you really? Oh, I love that! I love that scripture. Awesome.
Jamie: Yeah, so I think that's really great about the light of that we don't have to be afraid of the world.
Natalie: Okay, so let's tackle that next one, which is, you are my salvation. How does this concept of salvation give us this foundational truth that we can say like one little tiny idea, just this one little tiny idea. If you never memorize another verse again, the Lord is my light and my salvation— that is just earth shattering. If we really fully understand that the God of the universe says, “I'm your salvation.”
Jamie: The story I'm about to tell you right now is when this verse became just, really a lifeline for me. It was the summer of 2000. I was working at a Christian camp in Missouri, and I had just started following Jesus in 1999. So although I grew up in the church, knew all the right things would have said, I was a believer from third grade, no fruit, no actions, nothing.
And then in [00:16:00] 1999, God captured my heart and my life has never been the same. I applied to work at this camp, and this is the summer of 2000. And I don't know why they said yes, but I was, I mean, a fairly new believer because I had a lot of knowledge, but fairly new to following Jesus with my whole heart and life. And I had some things in my past that were kind of sketchy, not sketchy, just, I was sexually active for a long time. I got pregnant twice in college, heavy drinking, just living a lifestyle that did not glorify God. So I got accepted to work at this camp, and my biggest fear that whole summer is that I would be found out or something, or that I wouldn't be a good enough Christian, or that they would think we really made a mistake with asking her to come lead these kids. And, this verse became so important to me because it was like this lifeline that God, you're my salvation. I don't have to worry about what these people think about me. I don't even have to prove myself to them. I don't have to do anything because you are my salvation.
You are it to me. And so that summer, I mean, that verse was like every day on my heart of like, God I can trust in my salvation because you are my salvation. I don't have to prove it to these workers, to these campers. And again, I think that they probably asked me to be there because they wanted me to be there. I mean, you know, like 20-25 years removed, I'm like, I think they might have wanted me there. You know? But in the midst of that I was super insecure and super worried and like, how do I live up to this Christian thing at this Christian camp when I'm so new and so nervous and all the things? So that “you are my light and my salvation,” was monumental for me that summer of 2000.
Natalie: Yeah. I think that the idea that God is the one [00:18:00] who saves us, that he is our righteousness and all of that stuff that you were afraid of, you know, being exposed and found out for, that has been removed as far as the east is from the west. It's gone.
I know what you're saying. It t reminds me of myself. I became a Christian in college too. And then shortly thereafter, I got married to this guy and we're both believers, but we're just kind of on this path doing whatever, and he's like, “I think I need to go to seminary.”
And I'm like, okay, I don't know what that is, but let's do it. And then he's a pastor and I did not go to church before. I didn't grow up in the church. And I'll never forget there was this pastors and wives retreat that we went on, and here I am in my early twenties and I just felt like such a fraud.
Like who am I being a pastor's wife? I super don't belong here. Does anybody know? But I'll never forget that they said we're gonna play all the songs that you already know by heart and we're all gonna sing them.
Jamie: You didn't know any of them?
Natalie: I didn't know any. Like not even hadn't heard them. Literallywe were standing in the front row and it was actually good because I was bawling and I'm like, okay, no one can see me. They all just see my backside. I just felt like such a fraud for so many years. Here's the good news though — because Jesus is our salvation, we actually aren't frauds. We have been washed, we are clean. And he's like, and now just go on and tell other people about it.
Jamie: Yeah. It's such good news for all of us. And both of us had these stories in college, but honestly, we could come up if we had an hour and a half to talk today, a million other stories right now in our lives where is true.
Natalie: Yeah. Where I'm just like, oh, I failed again. You know, that's the, that's the worst thing too, because here I am, I'm doing ministry and my husband's a pastor and how am I not getting it all together? Why is this still a daily thing that I have to confess [00:20:00] that I did this thing or that I lost my patience with my kids?
Jamie: Yeah. Getting it together is just this hard reality, kind of like this foreign idea out there of can we actually get it together? Well, this is a whole other conversation, but getting it together and following Jesus sometimes just looks like passionately pursuing him and following him, even if it doesn't look to the outside world like we have anything together. You know what I mean?
I need to be more worried about getting it together on the inside, you know? And sometimes that even feels like it's in distress. But doing that is like abandoning these unmet ideas and expectations and then following him.
Natalie: Yeah. And I think, what's the opposite of that? It's looking good on the outside like the Pharisees who Jesus says were like whitewashed tombs. On the outside you look really great, but on the inside it's all dead in there. So better to be the prostitute at Jesus's feet weeping over our sins and looking like a mess, wiping his feet with our hair, then somebody who's got it all together. God’s concern is our heart.
Okay. We should keep going here. So God is our light. God is our salvation. And then also he says, the Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? And I love that idea that it's not just that the Lord is my stronghold right now, but of my life.
All of it from the beginning. When I meet the Lord at my death, the Lord is the stronghold of my whole life. So what about this concept gives us the ability to fight specific things that we might be afraid of?
Jamie: Well, Natalie, I looked up the word stronghold in the dictionary, and it says, “a place that has been fortified, so as to be protected against attack.” And then the second thing it says is, “a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly [00:22:00] defended or upheld.” I think that this fortified place, the stronghold, this fortified place where nothing can come against it.
And it says, the Lord is a stronghold of my life. And so I think if the Lord is that fortified place where nothing can come against it, and I have my salvation in him, what it means is not that there's not going to be attacks, and it doesn't mean that there's not going to be hardships. And it doesn't mean that the enemy is not going to try his darnedest to get through that, but it cannot be broken.
And so I kind of picture this castle, this very, very strong castle that nothing can ever get into, but things are always attacking it. Because there is this false idea that like, oh, following Jesus means everything's gonna be good. Everything's gonna work out. I surely am not gonna get cancer. I surely won't lose a loved one. I'm not going to struggle with pornography anymore, and I'm going be the greatest saver, and I'm gonna support all the missions that that's what we think. This is all gonna happen. Right? And then we still live in real life and we still live in human bodies, and we still live in a broken world where sin is on the move.
But there's this idea that in the middle of all of that, In the middle of your worst fears, in the middle of your anxieties, in the middle of sickness and death, in the middle of a dark world, there's this castle that nothing ever can come against. It will not fall. It will not fall.
And that is what God is for us. That's the castle I want to hang out in. Just that idea and, the idea too— not in this verse, but in so many other verses where we see that in the midst of those hardships, that stronghold hasn't left us. You know?
So it's not like the stronghold is going to get tired of us, it's not like the stronghold is moving on. It is with us through the hard, the good, the bad, the ugly through [00:24:00] all of it. And honestly, Natalie, we talked earlier about getting older. And the older I get, not only is it like, oh, I might be at my halfway point, but the older I get also, I feel like, man, I know a lot less answers than I thought I did in my twenties.
Everything feels a lot less unclear. And so the things that have not changed, the truths that don't change are the truths of Jesus and his word. And that too is a comfort to me. Yeah. That is like, everything feels hard. Sometimes scary and evil is around, but yet I don't have anything to fear because God is a stronghold of my life. And that is encouraging. I hope when people are listening, I hope it becomes everybody's life verse now, all of our life verses and that they literally take it to heart and so that they can pull it up in those times of distress.
Natalie: Yeah. I think so too. I mean it really is something where when we are rooting ourselves in who the Lord is and when we are even speaking that over ourselves, he is my light, he is my salvation, he is my stronghold, that's when we get to the place where we can look in the face of fear and say, “I don't have anything to be afraid of. What can man do to me? What can this world do to me? There's nothing.”
And honestly, when you're talking about this stronghold, this idea of a safe place, in this same Psalm, this is where David also says, “one thing I ask is the Lord, this is what I seek. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever and gaze on the beauty of his face.” This idea that our safe place is the Lord that I would dwell with him and that in Christ, he has invited us into that strong place.
That safe place where forever we now dwell where forever there will be light and [00:26:00] joy and he will wipe every tear from our eyes. And even in the right now, in the mess, in the battle, in the things that's going on, in the Psalms, David is in a literal battle. He has actual real enemies that are coming to attack him.
And he says, I'm not gonna worry about it in the middle of the night when I'm sleeping. Somebody could come and attack me because the Lord is my light. I'm not going to worry about whether or not I'm going to lose this battle because God is my salvation and I'm not going to worry about whether or not somebody's going to come against me and be too strong for me because God is my stronghold.
All of that imagery that David gives us is true in his actual, real situation and is spiritually true as well. There's a couple of layers of things going on here for us that we get to see and therefore we can look at it and say, yes, this is spiritually true for me, but this is true for me in my everyday situations.
Jamie: He ends this chapter by saying, be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord. And I love that because it is so often, Natalie, my heart feels afraid to trust and feels afraid to not fear.
And David is saying right above that he says, I believe I will see the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord. And it's like, okay, he's also ending this whole chapter like, guys, we can do this. Like we can do this.
Come on, let's do this. Make your, make your heart be courageous because we can do hard things. So I love how he ends it too.
Natalie: It's just so good, Jamie. I absolutely love it. Let me just ask you one last question.
Okay. When you think about this verse, if you were going to sum up. One time when it was just like, yes, this verse was everything to me. And you said, you know, you can think of several different times in your life when God really used this particular verse to just pull you up out of your fear. So will you share one last story with us?
Jamie: Yeah. I think another time that was really evident in my life that this verse [00:28:00] became this landline for me and this float in the midst of this crazy, crazy, battering ocean that I felt like I was in was when we were adopting our kids from Haiti. And it was a two and a half year process. And this was 13 years ago.
It was a two and a half year process, and it felt like nothing was going our way. Haiti's a pretty dark place. It has a long history with witchcraft. And so it did feel like we were up against this dark, dark, dark force. I don't really ever lean that way with evils always coming around me. I don't know. It probably is. I'm not that kind of person. But I will say there were seasons in that process where I questioned— is everything against us? Is there any possibility? Is there something more at play here? And I had to constantly rely on not only the light and not only my salvation, but that stronghold for me was like, God, you are going to keep me standing up. You are gonna keep me in this fight. You're gonna keep me in this battle. You're gonna keep me from letting all these things take me down. Because what would've been easier, Natalie, would've just been to crumble.
And, and I'm not saying I never did that, but I'm saying this verse was such an encouragement to me. All the way through everything you said that about, being in the house, Lord, and then to the very end about let your heart take courage.
That whole thing became this kind of anthem battle cry for me in the midst of that. To wait on the Lord, to be strong and take courage. He is my light. He is my salvation. He's my stronghold. I don't have to be afraid of this system. I don't have to be afraid that my kids will never come home. I don't have to be afraid of what's happening to them because he is my light. He's my salvation. He's my stronghold. Wait on the Lord. Be strong and take courage. That became a constant reminder in the midst of a really hard two and a half years.
Natalie: Thank you [00:30:00] so much for sharing that, Jamie. I just feel like I know there's got to be people out there right now who are struggling, who feel like everything is up against them.
I mean, I've been through it myself. It's not like you don't fall flat on your face and say, “I can't do this,” but to claim these truths over yourself and to allow the Lord to pick you back up. And to tell you “Yes, I am your stronghold and And you're gonna make it through. Yeah. I'm gonna bring you through this because I am your light. I'm your salvation. I am your stronghold.”
So if you're out there and you're listening to this and you need to hear that, this is for you. This verse is for you. This is God's Word for you. Bring it into your life. Bring it into your heart.
Say this over yourself. If you have a friend that's struggling, share this verse with your friend because this is such a lifeline. Like Jamie said, it is everything that we need kind of all packaged up in one little tiny word. And sometimes that's all we need. We can only just grasp onto that one little thing.
There's been so many times in my life where I think that opening up the whole Bible and finding the answer is so hard. But to say, “Lord, you are my light. You are my salvation, you are my stronghold.” Those are true things that you can say to the Lord and you can tell him.
Lord, be those things for me right now. And so that would be my encouragement for you. I'm sure it's Jamie's encouragement for you as well. And gosh, I wish we could stay and keep chatting. This has just been so good. Jamie, thank you so much for just sharing your heart for this verse and for the Lord with us.
Jamie: Well, I thank you for having me, and I love what you guys are doing. I've been a fan of you guys for a long time and so continue to help people find creative, beautiful ways to hide God's heart in their heart.
Natalie: Awesome. We will, we will. Thanks, Jamie.