fear and abiding in Christ

In 1939, FDR in his inaugural address said, “I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.” 

Strong and courageous words in a time when America was going through very challenging time as the depression deepened. Over the past few days, the Holy Spirit has been whispering to me, “The only thing you have to fear is fear itself.” As I prayed and journaled, I wrote, “How do you mean, Lord?” I felt God say to me, “Mark, it’s your fear that affects your life more than anything. Yes there’s pride, idolatry and other sins that mess you up, but fear causes you to more problems than anything else and leads to other sin. You let down your guard, when out of fear, you get discouraged. Perfect love casts out all fear!”

First of all, I agree with FDR that fear—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror paralyzes me from moving forward. The things I fear are often irrational and unjustified. After all, God is in control. He’s my Father in Heaven. Greater is He than he that is in the world. All true…but, there’s fear.

I asked God the obvious question: “How do I let go of my fears? It’s fear that causes me to hang on tighter. How do I let go? It’s hard because there were incidents in my life the falsely taught me to not trust anyone. I know that it’s wrong but I feel like that is what makes it hard to fully trust anyone, even You, Father.”

To which I felt God say, “Isn’t it time to let go and forgive anyone who has hurt you and let you down? That unforgiveness and hurt blocks you from fully trusting Me. And if you cannot fully trust Me, you cannot fully receive my love. And it’s perfect love that casts out fear. Fear that is nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror that paralyzes you from moving forward. Fear that severely hinders you from letting go, especially the kiddos.”

God’s word to me sunk into my heart and I said, “Yes, let the healing begin.” Then I felt led to write down the people that God brought to mind who did something, whether purposefully or not, that caused hurt or rejection or fear in my life. Some of it was surprising, some were not. It may be very, very bad theology but I even forgave God for times when I felt He failed to come through. Desperate times. Imagine that. As I searched my heart and gave it all to God, it was good.

I then felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to renounce vows, based on deception, lies and fleshliness,  I had made when I was a boy. I asked God to break the power of those vows.

Am I fearless as a result? The simple answer is, “No, not yet.” But it was a significant step on this journey. There will probably be more steps like this. In order for me to abide in Christ, I must open my heart and receive fully His love. And perfect love casts out all fear.

the journey continues…

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