I don’t know where all the images came from. Some I can pinpoint and some I can’t. Perhaps I had a very creative imagination, but from my earliest child memories come scenarios of fear. These pictures in my mind haunted me from my pre-school years and followed me well into adulthood. I have never been able to watch a movie or documentary where there are crimes against children or women. The images cause me to shudder and knock the wind out of me. I hate these things.
My fear of the dark as a child was more than boogie men and monsters, it was perpetrators, and murders laying wait to find me vulnerable. Out of these fears I developed a reality for myself that said, “You are vulnerable, you are defenseless, you are bait” and I carried these “truths” into adulthood.
I came to know Jesus at a young age. I remember asking Him into my heart when I was five and I began to learn to trust Him and to love Him. I prayed a lot as a kid. My own family situation and home environment caused me to pray a lot. I prayed that God would heal my family, that God would bring peace and stop the torment that was tearing us all apart. I trusted that God would take care of all of us, but I still had my own secret fears that haunted me when the lights went out or when I was left alone.
When I learned the scripture from II Timothy 1:7 which says: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind”, I began to recite this verse when I had to walk in the dark. From the church to the car in the parking lot at night I would say, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind.” When I laid down to bed at night in the dark I would say the words over and over. I gradually began to trust God to walk me in the dark and put me to bed at night.
I could tell you of numerous women I have met over the years whose fears dictate their actions as an adult. Many of these women, like me, had trust violated by men in their life and the aftermath of those childhood experiences left them with lies. Many of these women, struggling with their self-image, find it safer to gain weight and be “unattractive” to men rather than allow themselves to feel beautiful and praised because that in itself is the first step towards vulnerability. I have met women, like me, who learned to become people- pleasers in order to maintain peace and keep conflict from entering since “conflict is the precursor to abuse”. There are so many ways the fears shape our decisions and create new lies. Underneath every fear is a lie of the enemy that keeps us building fortresses to our heart. The lie says “You are alone. You are defenseless. You are a destination for evil.”
I’m an adult now…at least the calendar would say so. I am 36 and a mother of four. I often feel like I am still growing up and learning who I am and I now have four younger people to grow up with. I don’t have all the answers. I still stumble and sometimes badly, but now there are other instincts at work in me that force me to grow– maternal instincts. These instincts that God has placed in me that wants my children to be protected and at the same time fully equipped to face the life ahead of them keeps me searching out God’s truths.
I read the stories of Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. I think of these young men taken from their homes, families, faith and familiar surroundings. I read in amazement as I see these young men respond to the king they are now servants to. They speak with full confidence in the God they serve–the God they learned to trust as children. They are not afraid for their lives, but trust that God’s wisdom is worth risking their lives for. I have to ask the question: “If my children were taken from me and forced into the customs and ways of a foreign land with foreign gods, would they have the courage and confidence to resist the threats of a king for the sake of their God?” Have I taught my children to be Daniels? On their own, without my prompting, without a devotional book, have I equipped them with enough to sustain them in a fiery furnace or a lion’s den? This question is still to be answered.
In order for me to give to my children, I first have to receive. I do not want to pass on to them a spirit of fear. This isn’t what God gave me. He gave me power, love and a sound mind. What does that look like in light of my fears?
God began putting His finger on my lies. “You are alone.” Was I really? If He said He has never left me and promises never to forsake me, then why did I ever believe I was alone? What about vulnerable? All of mankind is vulnerable. Sin has made all of mankind it’s target and no one is immune, but does that mean I am unattended? If I read what God says about me in His word, I find that He is always with me, working all things together for my good, and He sends His angels to war on my behalf. Am I defenseless? This is where my childhood reasoning is challenged as an adult. The truth is I am no longer a child. I am no longer powerless. I have power, love and a sound mind and each of these things God works through my life. He is my shield, my defense, and my reward. I am not bait.
When I began to realize that Jesus stands between my heart and everything that comes to destroy it, that He is always interceding for me, that He never sleeps and always takes the night shift, that He cares for me more than the flowers of the field or the birds of the air that live contented in His provision, I began to let go of my fears and the lies.
I had a dream one night that I was flying on an airplane with my children and something went wrong. The engines failed and the plane began nose-diving towards the ground. I saw the fear on my children’s faces and in my dream I looked each one in the eye and said, “God has promised that He has never left us, so He is on this plane too. Look for Him. You will see Jesus on this plane.” In my dream the fear dissipated as we began to look for Jesus with the confidence that He was aboard. Needless to say, I think about this dream every time I board an airplane. I apply these truths when I am afraid of what tomorrow holds. I imagine God in my tomorrow instead of creating imaginations where He is not there and I am left on my own. I look for God or the evidence of His presence every time I begin to feel afraid. What a difference these truths have made in my life. This is what I want to pass on to my children.
Fear happens, but fear is grounded in lies. When our lives are committed to the Lord, He has promised that nothing can remove us from His hands. Not even death can separate us from Him or from His love. There is nothing in the night that God cannot walk me through. I am never alone. I belong to Him. So do my children, and so do you if you put your trust in Him.
Recommended reading: Isaiah 41:10; Romans 8:38-39; Isaiah 49:16