He did it again. Right when I thought I was gaining ground over fear, He reminds me I have not yet conquered it yet.
So there it is, I still struggle with fear. It’s true. I have had wins in conquering it, but there are still times that it rises back up in me. Like today.
Ugh, I so don’t want to talk about this right now, while it is still so raw. But, I know that feeling all to well. That feeling of knowing exactly what God wants me to do and knowing when my flesh wants to rebel against it. But I also know what happens when I obey…I get more freedom, experience more of Him, and I may understand a bit more about facing my fears.
So here goes.
For the last several weeks now we have been discussing the ways in which we can overcome fear. Our first week we talked about the importance of choosing to believe Jesus when He said in John 10:10 that “the enemy came to kill, steal, and destroy but that He came to bring life in abundance.” (my paraphrase) The second week we discussed how peace can be the anecdote to fear and how if we use Philippians 4:6-7, we can put down the anxiety and have our hearts guarded by the God of peace. Then last week we talked about how the root of the fear is issue is control, and how we needed to use surrender as our method to overcoming fear. I offered a few tangible ways to let go of whatever it is that you feel like you need to control to allow God to lay out His plans in your life, plans not to harm you, to prosper you to give you hope and a future.
And over those weeks I have been sharing with you about how I had to have a carotid body tumor removed and the anxiety and fear that I faced in that process and even afterwards. It’s been my intention to continue to walk you through that helping you see what God showed me through that time in overcoming my fear. But here I am, 5 years later with another health related illness and He’s shown me how I am letting fear control me again.
I had yet another doctor’s appointment today. For the last two years I have been going from doctor visit to doctor visit. Since January I have probably gone through at least twenty. And of nearly every kind of doctor you can think of. Cardiologists of varying types, rheumatologist, internal medicine, naturopathic, neurologists, vascular and homeopathic. Since August of 2015 I have been deemed an “anomaly” that no one can quite figure out.
I went to this doctor today in the hopes of well…to be honest, some hope.
I wanted to find a doctor that I was no longer an anomaly for so I could avoid the very thing that nearly every one of my doctor’s wants me to do. It’s that thing that scares me the most. To be honest, I don’t even know why. I have been asking Him to reveal that to me, and I still have no idea what it is that keeps me wanting to run the other way. But it does. And when it does…the fear is there, right in front of me staring me straight in the face.
So what do I do when I feel this way? The only thing I know to do. I run to Him. Jesus. God. My Daddy.
Cause here is the thing…no one else has answers or wisdom or understanding like He does. No one can offer me comfort like He does. No one can put just the right song, after song, after song on the radio for me on my drive home like He did for me tonight. And no one can show their love for me like He does.
The only way that I am able to overcome the things that are thrown at me… challenging health diagnosis’s, long recoveries, loss of my employment, miscarriages, financial difficulties, stresses in our marriage, more health issues…is by clinging to Jesus. In fact, there is no way I can get through all I have coming at me, which can feel overwhelming at best, is to cling to Jesus. What does that mean really? How does one cling to Jesus?
Allow me try and share with you how it looks for me and you can decide if you can apply it to your life.
When I first became a Christian, at a age 26, I chose to follow Jesus by faith alone. I had been trying to overcome the shame and guilt I felt over a divorce only a year prior and felt like everything else I tried to use to numb me out or just” get me through it” wasn’t working. Not the alcohol, not the drugs, not the shopping or the guys. No amount of work could fill the emptiness and or take away the darkness that I felt overwhelming me. I decided to “try Jesus” because I had literally tried EVERYTHING else. Because I chose to follow Him by faith alone and had no prior experience with Christianity, I had never read the Bible. Therefore, it seemed like the most logical thing for me to do was to start there. My mom, being the only person who I knew who knew Jesus, suggested I start with the Book of John. So I did, and 14 years later I am still digging in. His word has become like honey on my lips, a lamp unto my feet…when I go without it I feel lost and unsure. But with it, I feel secure and on track.
During the time I was starting to recover from my carotid body tumor removal, the Lord spoke a very specific scripture verse to me that felt very personal and very needed at the time. It is from the Book of Joshua and it says,
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9
The irony of this verse is at the time I felt nothing close to strong or courageous. I was in the midst of losing my job because of my new disability. I was the bread winner working in the corporate world making more money than I ever thought possible. Chris was working part-time at a local business and we were living comfortably in spite of still not selling our home in Ohio. We didn’t want for much and were able to purchase a home in Alabama while still paying off our bills. But the reality that my time at my employer was coming to an end was eminent. Truly the only way I was going to be able to overcome my fear in this situation was to truly be strong and courageous by clinging to Jesus. But how do you muster up strong and courageous? Honestly, you can’t. Well, at least I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried.
Thankfully, God knew that and taught me the key to becoming becoming strong and courageous…so that I would not be afraid.
In verse 8 it says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” The Book of the Law, aka the Bible as we know it today is the only thing that can help us get through our stuff… if we wish to be prosperous and successful.
If I get no other point across to you, if you hear absolutely hear this: You must have an on-going day-by-day relationship with Jesus and a commitment to reading the Bible to be strong and courageous.
No I am not trying to be legalistic. I am being honest.
I have been in relationship with Jesus for 15 years. There are times I can look back and see the fruit of my time with Him in the Word and then there are times I can see my struggle because I was not in His Word. The older I get the more I see how my walk with Him becomes more intimate and more consistent when I am reading, studying, and obeying His word daily.
This may be the thing that I am absolutely most passion about in your learning how to overcome fear. His word is what is going to bring you life. His word is what is going to help you over come your fears. His Word is what is going to teach you about peace and obedience, and surrender, and love and submission, and kindness and really any other thing you think you need to learn.
Now I may have lost every single one of you to reading your Bible instead of this blog, but if I did, PRAISE GOD! He is the only One that can give you the wisdom you need, the understanding, and the truth. But if you decide to keep on reading, I’ll promise I will continue to encourage you through what I have learned in the hopes that what I have walked through will help to equip you with whatever it is that you are trying to overcome. But know this, I will always drive you back to the Word in every post I write. I hope that as you continue on with me you search the scriptures on your own. That the verses I use will bring up questions for you to then dig into the Bible yourself. To wonder what it means for you, to hear Him speak to you, and for you to gain freedom in what He teaches you.
Am I saying cast aside all your devotionals? Not necessarily. Am I suggesting that you should no longer read Christian authors. Probably not. What I am saying is don’t make these tools your sole experience with God. He gave us the Bible to have an on-going relationship with us, one-on-one so that you and I can know Him personally. When we only rely on devotionals and Christian books it’s like we are putting another person between us and God.
He wants you to know Him and Him alone. He is a jealous God. Seek to know Him by making a daily study time.
What if you don’t do that now? How do you begin to read His word?
- Pray. It’s always a good idea to start off your study time with prayer. He is the One who wrote the scriptures and therefore, He is the one that can guide you through them. Seeking Him first.
- Pick a book of the Bible and start reading. Honestly, it can be any book. You can start with any Old Testament or New Testament book. It’s not where you begin, it’s just for you to begin. You may want to consider reading the entire book through first. This way you can get the gist of the story and know what you are going to study. If your Bible has a commentary at the start of the Book, read that first. You can always start where I did, with the Book of John.
- Try to journal as you read. I am an avid journaler, but I know some people are not. However, forsaking this seems so odd to me, that I have to at least offer it as a suggestion. As you read, write down questions you have, or words you are unsure of. Maybe jot down the characters you never heard of before, so you can come back later and do more research. Journal your prayers you can see how God answers them.
- Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Ask God to speak to you about the text. He wrote it, He can also help you understand it. This is the most basic way you can interact with Him. Do you not know who the Holy Spirit is? Why not start there and search the scriptures. Have questions, feel free to contact me directly and we’ll talk more.
- Grab a few writing utensils. It’s okay to write in your Bible. In fact, there are people who doodle all over their Bibles. But for now, you may just want to highlight some key points, underline, or make a notes in the margin. Whatever feels most comfortable to you. But don’t be afraid to write in your Bible. Of course it is a Holy Book but it is also your textbook for life. Writing things down helps us remember what we learned and someday you’ll want to come back to these scriptures so you can reflect on them or teach them to someone else. So make sure you mark it up however you see fit.\
There are also lots of great study methods out there. One of my personal favorites is by Jen Wilkin, you can get her book, Women of the Word here. Jen points out in this book how the Bible is not about us, it is about God. Learning her method of study will help you to study the Bible with God in mind and not you.
See, I even directed you to a Christian author. No legalism here.
So that’s the reality of it. You need His word to cling to Jesus so He, not you, can overcome your fears. There is no way around it. Not for me. And not for you.
His word will guide you in prayer. His word will tell you what to do next. His word will give you comfort and calm our fears. No one else can do that the way He does…not your spouse, not your best friend, and certainly not me. So, Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Be strong and be courageous my friend. The Lord is with you as you…even in your fear.
Do you have a daily time with the Lord and does that include studying the scriptures? What is it that keeps you from studying His Word?