"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
|"I'm not scared; Daddy's right there!"|
This is the third time this week this particular verse has "randomly" been in my Bible reading. And a few others:
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;......God is in the midst of her she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. Psalm 46:1-3, 5
"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You. You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel."Psalm 73:22-24
"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
I think the Lord has something to say to me about FEAR. Maybe He is speaking to you as well.
I feel afraid just to write this post. If I admit that I struggle with fear, then my brave front crumbles. The image of "having it all together" as a wife, mom of 3, and a woman in ministry is cast down. What will people think? What will my husband think? Don't I need to hold him up? What will my children think? Don't they depend on me? What about the people the Lord has given me to serve? What will they think if they know how fearful I am? Nah, I think I better just keep all this to myself and keep the facade in place.
God didn't like that answer.
He tenderly reminded me of the spiritual "valley" He took me through when He first called us to missions and to leave our life in Tucson. I was filled with and nearly overcome by FEAR. I have often heard what I experienced at that time called "a spirit of fear" upon a person. While it is true that there was fear in my spirit, I do not believe it was primarily a spiritual attack. That would make me a victim of an evil force rather than what it really was; grappling with my own sinful flesh. We are all filled with fear. Fear that we will be exposed, found out to be frauds. Fear that our children will misbehave in public. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of losing something we hold dear. Fear of pain. Fear of physical unattractiveness or poor health. Fear of what we cannot control.
A friend of mine recently shared at our Women's Prayer breakfast that she struggles with the sin of fear. I had honestly never thought of it as sin before, but then I realized that's exactly what it is. If sin is acting as if we don't need God, then allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear is the opposite of dependence on Him. When you look at the results of fear, it becomes even clearer. Fear leads us to try to control every situation and other people. Fear leads us to "keep up appearances" rather than being transparent and open. Fear creates stress rather than peace. Fear is closely related to pride, because it says "I have this all under control" rather than humbly admitting we need God to take control.
So what can we do? It is clear from the verses above and many others in Scripture that God does not mean for us to be enslaved to fear. The answer you will see in bold: Him. He is our refuge, He holds our right hand, He never leaves us. We are without excuse for not trusting in Him and for trying to control everything on our own. Yet He is gracious and patient enough to let me come to him 100 times a day saying "I'm scared. Help me. Show me your will and give me the courage to follow You" And He always does.
When I was struggling so hard with leaving our life in Tucson, it was out of FEAR. I had built a comfortable suburban housewife life for myself there and I was terrified of giving up my comforts, my security, and my "right" to determine how much I was willing to offer to the Lord. A few weeks before we left, our pastor Robert Furrow at CC Tucson preached this message:"Give It Up" on 8/14/2011(scroll down to the teaching on 8/14/2011). The Holy Spirit convicted both Gabe and me powerfully through it and I was encouraged to hear it again today and see how faithful God has been to His promises. I realized that I was the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-31. I didn't want to give up the security of "my life" to follow Jesus. But He loved me enough to know exactly what I needed to give up in order to follow Him and enjoy the blessings He had for me. I thought it was for His purpose of reaching the world with the Gospel, but it was also for my good!
I still struggle with fear though.
Recently it has been fear of:
- Prison Ministry at a local women's prison; yet we stepped out in faith and were so blessed!
- Performance anxiety in children's ministry to kindergartners at church
- An outreach the Lord asked us to do through a neighborhood Easter egg hunt at which we shared the Gospel; again, we were totally blessed!
- Closer personal relationships with other believers; "discipleship" and the transparency it entails
- Facing a challenging time in our marriage
- Having to lovingly speak uncomfortable truth to fellow believers
- Gabe started Aircraft Mechanic School at Clover Park Technical College on 4/1/2013 and is really enjoying it and finding lots of ministry opportunities. Post coming soon from him on that! Our prayers about transportation were answered and he is riding to and from school every day with another student from Eatonville. Praise God for Ryan!
- Bonnie recently got to attend a friend's home birth to be with her two older daughters and enjoyed a beautiful time :-)
- Sammy brought home straight A's this trimester and is growing in respect for his teacher and in being a friend. He is also faithfully following our church's "read through the Bible in a year" plan and we are seeing fruit of God's Word in his life!
- Ciara continues to amaze us with her intellect; she is reading the Little House on the Prairie series right now at the age of 5! She also recently got her training wheels off :-)
- Asher celebrated turning 1 on 3/31/2013 and is eating big people food, cruising all over the house, up and down the stairs, and will be walking soon! He brings joy to our whole family.
A final word:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us" I John 4:18-19