Monday, January 11, 2010

What Fear Taught Me

For the past few months, my husband and I have been walking through a potentially fearful situation.  We decided not to share the trial with anyone and just trust the Lord that His goodness and mercy would prevail.  Though we are still walking through the situation, I've reached a breakthrough.

For many days and nights as I rehearsed what if scenarios in my head, fear gripped me.  I had racing thoughts, I was tormented with fitful sleeping, and could not experience the shalom of heaven which I normally walk in.

One of my life's verses is 1 John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment and the one who fears is not perfected in love."

In the last few months, fear has taught me a few life lessons that I never want to lose or have to learn again.

Fear prevents me from giving.
Fear prevents me from living. 
Fear prevents me from loving. 
Fear prevents me from doing. 
Fear handicaps me and boxes me in on all sides.

My Abba, my Heavenly Daddy is perfect love.  To the degree that I am filled with and consumed by His love, fear has no place in me because perfect love casts out or displaces fear.  Fear has taught me that the converse is also true.  To the degree that I am filled with and consumed by fear, God's love has no place in me.  Fear and Agape love cannot exist in the same place at the same time.  It's impossible.

One day, while my daughter was home on a college break, she greeted me as my car pulled in to the garage.  There was no sparkle in my eye, my face was tautly set, and all I could think about was, "Someone had better washed up those dishes."  Fear takes your joy away and quickly leads to offense.  She jokingly said," You're suppose to smile when you come home."  Another time, she came into the kitchen and she looked at me and said, "Why are you judging me with your eyes?"  To which I replied, "I am not." But the truth was, I absolutely was judging her outfit.  Fear produces a critical and judgmental spirit.  Fear was sucking life from me.

I love the way Holy Spirit can use the people in our lives to reach us.  A few days before she was to return to school, I realized that fear had robbed me of fun times with her while she was home.  Fear had displaced the love that exudes from me as an overflow of receiving Papa God's love.  Fear had turned me into a somber grinch.

A few days ago, as I was reading my Bible, Holy Spirit showed me something wonderful that I had never seen before.  As I read Genesis 3, I realized that though Adam and Eve had sight, they were also "blind".  In Genesis 3: 6, it says "When the woman saw..." so she was seeing but in verse 7 of that same chapter, it says, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened..."   Until they chose to heed the voice of Satan and partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were never to "see" evil.  Their eyes were only open to that which was good, that which was lovely, that which was pure.  In fact, God later says in verse 22, "the man has become like one of Us knowing good and evil."  It was never Abba's intent for us to "see" the evil around us, to "know" (experience) evil.  It was never His intent to know that we were uncovered because He was our covering.  Love covers.  It wasn't until they ate of the fruit that Adam and Eve looked upon each other and "saw" that they were naked and were ashamed.  Fear produces shame.

Indeed it is true, Love covers.  And through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been redeemed and restored to that place of fellowship and relationship with our Heavenly Daddy, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.  He has covered us in His blood and placed on us a robe of righteousness.  It's our right to be "blind" to the evil around us; to see only that which is good.  Sounds like Utopia? Perhaps.  But even Peter stayed on top of the water as long as his eyes remained fixed on Jesus - that which is good.  The minute he began to look around, he started to sink. 

Another life lesson I learned from fear, as long as I look around I sink into a pit of misery, depression, discouragement, and disbelief.  When I choose to lock my eyes into the gaze of my Heavenly Daddy and fix my eyes on the author and finisher of my faith, I can lean into His goodness, trust in His grace, rest in His love and keep walking forward.

We each have our own Garden of Eden in Christ, a secret place where we can run and be with Him.  A place where we are safe, a place where we are hid, "blind" if you will, tucked away from the snare of the evil one.  The Bible says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and are safe."

When I enter that place of rest, the place of green pastures and still waters that He leads me to, the enemy can come near me, but He can't touch me.  David says it like this, "He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies."  When my eyes are fixed on the One who is my Protector, my Provider, my Strong Tower, all I see is Him and His goodness, His glory.  I am "blind" to the evil one, the only thing I see is the recompense of the wicked (Ps. 91: 8).  Though I am not ignorant of his schemes or his devices, I allow rest to be my weapon, faith to be my shield and the Word of God to be my sword.  I run into the arms of my Heavenly Daddy.  I allow His love to displace my fear.

Fear taught me that when I lend myself to it, I give it my power.  I give it authority in my life.  And when I give my power and authority to the one who has no power, he begins to use my reactions to fear to gain power over my life.  Pretty soon, I find myself depressed, despondent, discouraged, and echoing his own words, "Hath God said?"

Yes, God did say! God said He was for me. He said He was more than the whole world against me.  He said I would have trouble in this world, but He has overcome the world! He said He would never leave me or foresake me.  He said He has arrived to live among me.  He said His thoughts about me are greater than the grains of sand.  He said He has etched my name in the palm of His hand.  I am always before Him.  He said He would not leave me as an orphan and that He would come to me.

So, do I act out of fear? Or do I choose to stand on what He said? Fear taught me, that to choose fear is to allow the devil to set the agenda.  When I understand my identity, who I am and whose I am, Romans 8: 35-39 becomes alive in my heart. " Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...But in all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Indeed it is true, Perfect Love casts out fear.  Fear has taught me that every person, even one who walks in the shalom of heaven, is capable of reacting in fear if you feed your heart on the wrong thing long enough.

Fear has taught me that if I give in to it, I will not be perfected in the love of God.  In the words of the wonderful Hillsong song,  "I will exalt thee.  I will not fear.  He shall go with me.  I will not fear."

Thank you Abba for loving me enough to draw me into my secret place so you could fill me with your perfect love and displace the fear that was consuming me.  Thank you Pastor Bill for having a word in season for BSSM that spoke right to the heart of this situation as we are walking through it.  Many of the thoughts I have echoed here come from the teachings of Holy Spirit and Bill Johnson.

©2010 Felicia Murrell

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