With one hand tightly wrapped around the end of the armrest, my other hand searched to find my husband’s. I interlaced my fingers with his; his hand giving me a semblance of strength and safety.
From the tiny window, I watched our plane taxied down the runway, the earth moving past quickly, my body vibrating.
I could feel fear and faith swirling around me, imagining them as transparent sheets of mist battling to wrap around me.
I found myself reaching out and holding on in fear, falling into old habits without a second thought, but the second thought came, and it was as though I sat back and witnessed my heart correct itself saying, “Wait a minute, you don’t have to hope no one notices your knuckles whitening as you grasp on tighter to your surroundings, you don’t have to hold on in fear. You have no fear of this anymore, remember?”
I think this might be what Ann Voskamp calls “soul amnesia” in her book The Broken Way – how we so quickly forget what we’ve learned and how we constantly have to “re-member.” I get this a lot.
As quickly as the moment came, the fear quickly evaporated and faith won, blanketing me in peace. As our plane lifted and soared into the open sky, my heart did the same.
Oh God. I remember. I remember how many years I walked enslaved by fear. And I remember when you helped me break through fear’s chains how my soul soared. Free. At peace. Open. Lifted again.
Last week my husband invited me along with him on a work trip, and here we were flying across the country together. His invitation spoke volumes of love to my weary heart and came as such a gracious gift.
After recently facing a deployment and more work and life demands, after this stay-at-home momma was running on empty about to crash and burn, after not having taken a vacation or a trip alone together since we’ve been married (almost ten years), this trip was long over due.
But right as this gift came to me, a gift I saw as God leading me further and further into this abundant life with Him, a gift that offered to strengthen my marriage, to give me time to dream and pursue this calling to write, to bring both my husband and I rest and joy in very practical senses, the enemy was there lurking, ready to pounce on me. Ready to steal everything good God intended this trip to be for us.
The enemy spoke fears to my heart.
Your children might not be okay without you. What if something happens to them while you’re gone? What if something happens to you?
Can I get real honest about my fears for a minute and go deeper into them with you?
What if something goes wrong mid-flight and crashes? What if the plane crash lands? What if a terrorist attacks the plane or the airport? Taking this trip is selfish. You could die. What about your kids? Can you imagine their sorrow, their broken hearts if you die? They won’t be okay without you. What if something happens to them while you’re gone? What if they are sick and need you, but you’re not there? What if a tragic accident takes their lives while you’re gone and you weren’t there?
But I am alert to the enemy (1 Peter 5:8).
I know the answers to all of the fear-based questions because I’ve walked through to them to find the answer, and the answer is found in surrender and trust and faith.
Ever since I was a little girl, I lived in fear. Insecure. Shy. Always holding onto my mom, hiding behind her legs, even at family gatherings. As I grew, the insecurities and fears grew with me.
I remember when I was old enough to stay home alone, fears enveloped me. I would imagine these scenarios of someone breaking into our home, trying to kidnap me. I would imagine all of the places I could hide where maybe the intruder wouldn’t find me. Full of anxiety and my heart always racing. The ring of the telephone, or heaven forbid the doorbell, would send my heart out of my chest. Trapped by fear until my mom came home.
As a young adult, fears kept me living a worried and anxious thought life and often kept me from enjoying life. Always a natural pessimist and worst-case-scenario-thinker, I was chained by worries and fears and had some knowledge of it, but not until years later did I realize how enslaved and hindered by fears I actually was.
Late in high school I met Jesus, and as a young college student I began to fall in love with Him. Jesus had a lot to teach me about worry and fear. Being freed from my worrying nature was the first transformative powers of Christ I experienced in my life.
I learned that my faith was only as deep as my fear.
But even as my faith and trust in God grew and my worries and anxieties lessened, I continued to battle fear.
I’ll never forget the words of a friend and youth pastor when I turned him down on his offer to go on a missions trip to Mexico. My answer was mostly based in fears, and he knew it. He spoke truth in love to me that fear is not from God. He expressed disappointment in me for surrendering to fear and not stepping out in faith. I listened to fear and disobeyed this calling from God.
It was a pivotal moment in my faith. In this life I would constantly have to choose who/ what I was going to follow, I wanted it to be Jesus, not fear. And so I began an intimate walk following the Lord, fighting back against fear with faith. I was doing okay until I went through a season of great suffering.
Several years later when my life fell apart, the enemy pounced and devoured me with fear. His attack remained sly and relentless.
My worst fears came true in my life. The death of my child. The death of my father. Plus the added stressors of being uprooted, constant change, and not being in control, all to the extent of which I had never experienced before, as we were new to being at the mercy of the Army.
After living through the fears in my present, the enemy used the fear of the future to enslave me. I began to live in fear and look to the future in fear, which wasn’t really living, it was like dying spiritually.
But what the enemy didn’t know, what I didn’t couldn’t see at the time, was that God was going to use living through some of my worst fears and this season of suffering for my good.
God was showing me what would happen if my greatest fears were realized: that God was going to be there and I would be okay. Not that I wouldn’t mourn or hurt or feel pain, but that God was going to provide, that I would experience an intimacy with Him like I could never have imagined, and that He would bring good and purpose and life to me still.
If I was hurting, God was going to comfort me.
If I was weary, God was going to bring me rest.
If I was weak, God was going to give me his strength.
If I was anxious, God was going to pour his peace out on me.
If I didn’t see a way, God was making one.
I lived through my fears, and I found God.
I think it was Beth Moore’s book Breaking Free (if my memory is serving me right) that spoke to me so loudly during this time on this. To rid myself of future fears, I had to walk through them, with God, live through them mentally, until I found God.
After coming through the shock and grief of losing our first child, my husband and made the decision to try to have another baby. Of course the enemy was right there raining fears down on me. With both of my pregnancies with our rainbow babies, I endured so much spiritual warfare. They were huge steps of faith that the enemy wanted to destroy with lies and fear.
I knew I had to walk through the fears and surrender them to God. If I didn’t, I wasn’t going to make it.
I named our first rainbow baby Isaac because of this. I had to have a faith greater than my fear of losing him, where I could fully surrender my child to the Lord, as Abraham did, in faith. I named our second rainbow baby Isaiah because God spoke volumes to me as I battled fear during my pregnancy using his words from the book of Isaiah. (I highly recommend the book of Isaiah for anyone battling fears, especially chapter 41).
Once I brought my fears to God, He delivered me from them.
But the enemy wasn’t done. He was ready to breathe a new fire of fear into my heart: my children losing me.
If you do “this,” you might die. You might die today driving to the store. What if you die? Imagine the pain your children will experience. Imagine their suffering. Imagine their devastation. They’ll never know the love of their mother. They’ll never know you. They’ll grow up orphaned, abandoned. They won’t be okay. They’ll never recover.
Oh how gut-wrenching the lies were.
But God stood next to me and asked me to face these fears that crippled me head on with Him. So I did.
If I die, God has my children. God still has a plan for them. All I know to be true of God in my life in my darkest hours, will be true in theirs. God will comfort them if they’re mourning. God will be their peace if they’re confused. God will provide for them. God will mend their brokenness and make it into a marvelous story for His glory. They will be okay because they are His children.
As an Army wife, I’ve had to do this too. I’ve had to “go there” when my husband’s deployed. I have to walk through the fears of worst case scenario to be freed from the fears, to trust the Lord, to live and not be trapped. If my worst fear of those men in uniform knocking on my door happens, then what? I will be okay. Circumstances won’t be okay. It will break me certainly. But I will be okay… because God.
I’ve come a long way in my fears, having learned to look through them to find God in the answers, and finding my faith to be their extinguisher.
And friends, just a side note, even if you have tremendous faith, fear is something that the enemy is going to use to attack us. Don’t think because you have fears that you don’t have faith. But we do need to decide what we’re going to do with the fears that come. Are we going to surrender them to the enemy and live in bondage or are we going to surrender our fears to God and find our victory through faith in Him?
Fears still come at me like unexpected arrows targeting my heart (Psalm 91: 5).
Like on this trip.
Some old lies and fears, some new ones. To keep me from the abundant life God has for me. To keep me from God’s blessings and prosperity. To rob me. To steal from me.
Even making me think, God doesn’t want to prosper you. This trip isn’t God giving you anything good. How can you be so bold to say that? Who do you think you are?
And it’s funny, even as I catch those darts of lies, they change direction.
Even if God’s prospering you, don’t forget this isn’t going to last. Don’t forget there’s suffering coming too. Will you still proclaim God’s goodness then?
And there’s the enemy trying to rob me right where I am, twisting truth again. But I can catch those arrows too. Because I’ve learned suffering does and will come. I’ve lived through it once. And, like Job, I will choose to proclaim God’s name when He gives and when He takes away (Job 1:21).
My faith has become greater than my fears. When the fears do come, they’re like a vapor swirling around me quickly blown away by a gust of sheer faith in truth, like in my airplane seat.
No more living in fear because it isn’t living at all.
There is reward and life and good God wants to bring to each of us, but fear stands in our way. Walk through your fears, seek God in them, expect God to be there according to His promises, when you do, you just might find freedom and life.
What fears do you have? Do you feel them ensnaring you? What might your fears be keeping you from? What are you expecting to happen? Are your expectations based in fear or faith?
Are you afraid to say no? Afraid to do something that requires risk? Afraid of change? Afraid of losing someone you love?
Can I challenge you to take time to walk through your fears and answers to these questions with the Lord? Would you be brave enough to leave a comment and share some of your answers? Maybe you’ve already journeyed through fears to find God and freedom, can you share your experience here to encourage the rest of us?
Here are some additional scriptures on fear that are great to study and memorize: Isaiah 41:13, 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 4:40, Mark 5:36