Friday, February 06, 2009

I don't want to be afraid.

I've been taking the new Beth Moore study at our church called, Esther. And while I would love to say that I have poured endless hours of study into this study, I must confess that I have not. I love Beth and I love her studies but I just can't seem to find enough time or brains to keep up with it all! Surely I have missed many blessings by not spending the time I should on this study.

But, I have been set free from the guilt that the enemy can throw about from the "You are not a good bible study girl". Amen! I do what I can do now.

So while I may miss some blessings during the week I never miss the blessing when I hear her teach on the video! =)

The other night was on Fear. And wow, was my soul blessed!

I have a friend that struggles with fear more than anyone I have ever seen before. So much so that it has now consumed her life, taken her joy and is daily stealing every ounce of strength from her. This past year, I have watched a spiral effect from the choices made daily in a life of fear. It's heart-breaking.

She spends endless hours at the doctor's offices, on the phone with nurses, researching and worrying about anything and everything that could possibly be wrong. While fear has always been a factor in her life, recently it has become her life. And may I just say from observing, that when fear takes over, it's very difficult to regain control.

As I've reflected on the concepts that Beth shared with us the other night, my heart has grown sad for my friend. Because as hard as this is to write this, I learned that when we walk in fear, we have what is called "conditional faith". It's where the "what if's" take over our hearts and we lose the courage that Christ so freely gives us through his mighty work on the cross.

A few months ago I asked my friend a question. I said, "If God took it all away, would you still be able to lift your hands in total praise to Him?"... She said she wasn't sure. Oh how much my heart ached as she said those words because not being sure of our faith before the storm even hits is a scary place to be.

My girls, especially my Kennedy, they are always so afraid during a loud thunder storm. They will often run right into mine or Kris's arms to be held, rocked and just told that they are "ok". But do you know what I just realized? My girls are never afraid before they know the storm is coming. They do not walk around and anticipate the next storm. They do not ask and wonder through every cloud in the sky if a storm is coming. Nor do they wake up each morning wondering if there will be a storm that day!

But it is quite the opposite with fear.

Rather than fear stealing our hope during a storm, fear gets us all in a tizzy and mess that we would rather bunker down into our safe havens and stay there when a storm isn't even near. Shutting the doors and windows to the world and sitting alone in utter darkness, while it's still a beautiful day outside. So much is missed out on! So much is lost! And so much time is gone.

Beth said something that struck me hard because although fear has not ever gotten me to a place of 24/7 consuming, I too have struggled through days of fear. Wonders of fear. And the failures of fear. She said this, "We can protect ourselves out of our callings. You may be one brave decision away from the most important step in your destiny."

Wow that hit me hard! Sometimes we are so afraid to step out in faith of what God is calling us to do in fear of what other's think, facts and time lines.... that if we stay in that place we may never take that big step into our destiny! I thought about how many chances of telling someone about the love of Christ had passed me by due to my own fears. Or how many opportunities have already passed me by because I was to afraid to believe that God could do something.

She also talked about the "Then what?" factor. That is simply this:

"What if = I Fear +Jesus, Jesus, Jesus = Then what?"

The "then what" factor doesn't mean I wouldn't struggle with anger, frustration, sadness, depression or anything else in a tragedy. Surely no one would ever be able to go through a tragic situation and not go through those emotions! It means knowing what would be your plan after a "what if".

I know because I've seen in other's lives that joy after sorrow is possible. I know that happiness after sorrow is possible. I know that peace after sorrow is possible. And, I know that service to the Lord after tragedy is possible. So my "then what" would be something like this:

I would cry, I would morn, I would never want to get out of the bed again.....but then time would pass, wounds would heal through the power of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus and I would take that tragedy and make it into something beautiful. He would pick me up and give me the strength every single day to go on. And it would only be through the power of Jesus Christ.

In John 10:10 it says this: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it full."

Fear is a choice, not what God intends. God intends for our lives to be full!

I hope you've made it to the end of this post because I have an idea. What if in the comments over the next few days we do a massive roll call of the things we fear?! I commit to pray over every single one of the fears mentioned and find a scripture just for you! I believe that walls are taken down and bridges are built when we ask God to set us free! And please know that you can do this anonymously, God knows who you are.

I will start with mine. See you in the comments!

20 comments:

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

I am fearful of failure or doing what Beth described as protecting myself out of my calling.

I am so afraid to make the wrong move, that all to often I don't make any move.

The verse I claim over this is:

Galatians 5:25 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step by the Spirit."

That's where I get the "Not taking one step without Him". I just gotta listen!! =)

Emily Tallman said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also struggle with fear.

I am afraid of being hurt by others. I have been hurt in the past very deeply and in turn find myself not wanting any friends whatsover.

It is such a vulnerable thing to give your heart knowing it can be hurt in return.

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Emily, thank you for sharing your heart with me as well! I too have struggled with being hurt by others...it's a painful place to be and often it makes me what to just hang it all up! There is a verse in Proverbs that I feel God is saying is just for you.

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times."

Lord, I pray for Emily, that you would bring her a friend that does exactly what this verse says, 'Loves at all times'. Help her to trust, believe and know that these types of friendships do exisit. Although we may get hurt in the process, finding a true friend is like holding a rare rose in our hands and I ask for this blessing in Emily's life.

Amen

Joyful said...

Nicki, this is a powerful post.

I struggle with fear continually. It is a 'thorn in the flesh' to me and although I have claimed verses, prayed to be released, tried to bring every thought captive under His control etc...still fear grips me at every turn. (I think it would be simpler and easier to list what I'm NOT afraid of - the list would be almost non existant!)

A couple of things that have greatly encouraged me in my fear are:

1. There are 365 'do not fear' verses in the Bible. That's one for each day of the year. It also shows me that the Lord knew we were going to struggle with fear.

2. There's a verse in the new testament that is referring to Christ's disciples and it says, "in their fear, they followed". I can make a choice in my fear. My fear may not all go away for whatever reason - maybe God uses it to keep me depending on Him, I don't know - but I can either allow my fear to make me inactive, incapable, and ineffective OR I can follow in my fear and give Him the glory when victory comes.

I faced my biggest fear last year when I got on a plane, by myself no less, and flew to North Carolina. (I don't know how long you've been reading my blog, but I share that entire story the end of June and into July 2008.) I trusted God like I never had before and "in my fear, I followed".

Don't misunderstand. I'm in know way trying to justify my fear. I know God's Word tells me that 'perfect love casts out fear' and I know His love could remove every ounce of fear that continually wells up inside me, but until that day, I pray the Lord will continue to help me make right choices "in my fear" to trust Him.

Great post Nicki!
Love ya,
Joy

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

I could just say "ditto" to Joy's post! It would be much quicker for me to list the things I don't fear! And like her, I have tried praying and pleading and praying Scriptures about fears. There are times when I am not so afraid and there are times when the fears come back full-force!

In the first verses that I picked out for our year of memorizing with Beth (1 John 4: 18) one phrase kept jumping out at me...."fear hath torment"! If you're a fearful person by temperament, then you know how very true this verse is! My next verse (Ps 107:29) said in part..."He maketh the storm a calm". That's one of my big fears...storms and namely tornadoes....of which we have not a few here in MS. My most recent verse (1 Peter 5: 7) talks about "casting ALL your care upon him". I have been trying very hard this week to quote this verse to myself over and over. And to cast all my cares (and fears) on Him! I would so very, VERY much love to live a life free of fear.

But in the meantime, since you asked...I am afraid of...tornadoes, airplanes, big cities, elevators, large bodies of water, most animals unless extremely small and sweet, and DENTISTS!...not sure if I've left out something but you get the picture! ha I'm pretty pathetic! There are times that I have to be in or around the things I fear and then I do a lot of praying and leaning on the Lord.

I thank you in advance for your prayers! Sweet Joy has prayed much for my fears also! Thanks Sis.

God bless you!!

Marilyn

mama's smitten said...

Wow ! what a post! I fear .... alot of things ! Am I understanding correctly that even by hoping we will be able to fulfill our faith that we will be blessed by Gods Grace? I am new to my spiritual journey . But I have come to see that many people have gone throuh tragedies and loss before they found their spirituality. I have been fortunate that I have not endured such tremendous cicumstances that others have. But does that lesson my faith because I have yet to know what it really feels like to suffer? I have suffered in my own selfdestructive ways but I found God and now feel this overwhelming appreciation for my life.But am I less credible because I have not had to suffer?

Sharon Brumfield said...

I will be starting the same study this Sunday at our church. I am looking forward to tackling this in study.

Fear has been a huge issue in my life over the years.
God has dealt with many of the issue that brought life to a halt. But there are still issue that get to me.
Fear that I am not doing what I should be doing and I am going to have to pay some horrible price for it.
It is probably a little to big of a subject to go into here. I heard her say something about this the other day on t.v. It is not enough to say we trust that He is able to keep us from the situations we fear....but we must believe that if we have to "go there"...He will carry us through it.
I can easily thank Him for protecting me from the things I fear....but can I trust that He knows what He is doing if He lets me go into the valley of the shadow of death.
Bottom line...until I know why this became a fear can I really move on? I don't think so. Maybe I am wrong...God and I are working on this.
Sorry for the ramble...just where I am right now.
Looking forward to this study.
And your friend....I have one just like her.

Brenna said...

I don't have enough time to list all the things I fear, but I'm working on them! One of my biggest fears is flying, which I haven't done since 1985!

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Joy, thank you for sharing that there are 365 verses on fear! I love that connection with how many days in a year there are! WOW! That's a verse a day!! I do know your story since I was at She Speaks as well!! =) You are a brave woman to do all that you have done and continue to allow the Lord to use you.

Since I feel confident that you have a verse here is my prayer for you:

Father, I thank you for Joy and the sweet encouragement she brings to so many women. I praise you that in her fear she draws closer to you. Keep allowing situations in her life where she must simply rely on you at all times so that day by day she overcome her fears by your perfect love. I praise you for her and ask a hedge of protection on her life!

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts as well on this. I love the verse also that you used the one about the storm! I think that is very suiting for a fear about storms. I love that the Lord is all about the details and this is my prayer for you:

Lord, thank you for Marilyn and her heart for you. Thank you that she continues to seek to become whole through every fear she faces. I pray for her fears in storms and espeically where she lives, she faces this often. I pray for a special sign to come to her through every storm that comes her way. Lord let it be something like a bird, a cloud that she notices or anything Lord for her to remember that you are right there protecting her. I love to see you work that way Lord!

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

MamaSmitten, how precious to my soul is your comment. Being new on your journey with the Lord you are in an incredible position! Seeking Him in everything! I do not believe that we have to suffer to understand God's grace to the fullest (I think that's what you were wondering), I think we have to have the plan before the storm comes. We have to do as the bible tells us to know where we stand. (I'm trying to find that verse for you). I LOVE your heart and you are a gem to the Lord.

Here is my prayer for you:
Lord, I love Mamasmitten's heart for you. She is seeking to know you in a deep and personal way. I pray that you would continue to allow her to question, wonder and desire to know the truth about you as she draws closer to you each day. Help her to see that you use all the good and all the bad for your glory. Be with her as she seeks to know where she stands before the storm comes and I believe she does. Lord thank you, thank you for her and I ask a special blessing upon her life today.

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Sharon, how exciting that you are going to be teaching Esther! I will pray for you as you begin that in-depth study and I know you will be awesome at it!! =)

I agree with everything you said and this is my prayer for you as you "work this out" with the Lord =):

Father, I thank you for Sharon, she has been such a sweet blogging friend for me and has encouraged me through so much. I pray for her as she begins this study of Esther that you would be so clear to her as she reaches women through this tender subject. Bless her Father in a unique and special way and hlep to always know where she stands on your word.

Joyful said...

Nicki, I just had to come back, and how precious to read your prayer for me. THANK YOU!!! You are such a blessing. May the Lord continue to use you. You have such a sweet heart for Him.

Love ya,
Joy

ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Brenna, you are not alone in your fears of flying! I can assure you of that!! I think I saw once on a list that out of the top ten things people are afraid of, public speaking was number one and flying was number two! BUT, the Lord can help us overcome every single fear!! Isaiah 41:10 is the verse I feel God has just for you!

Lord, I pray a special blessing on Brenna and her fears of flying. Lord, your word tells us that perfect love does drive out fear and I bodly ask for this fear to leave Brenna. Lord, I haven't known her that long but she is a precious soul and I ask that you would allow her to overcome this!

Brenna- Look for your next chance to fly!! =) hee hee!!

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Nicki,
Thank you so much for the prayer for me! I guarantee you that I will notice something in the storm from now on that reminds me of God!

I had a crazy, fearful, upsetting thing happen today out on the road. A motorcycle gang surrounded us and kept acting CRAZY! They would speed up...then slow way down. They would do wheelies and weave all over the road when they were meeting people. It really scared me! I hate it when I get upset over something like that. But I was so afraid that they would cause us or someone else to have a wreck. I tell you, I had some real bad attitude! I would have loved to have called down some wrath of God on them! ha Guess it doesn't take much for me to digress to a real heel. Makes me realize even more how much grace and love God has for the human race in that He loved us "while we were yet sinners" and died for us.

Those were some pretty random thoughts and not at all what I set out to write when I came back here. Really just came to see what you prayed over me and to thank you.
Hope you have a good Sunday tomorrow!

Marilyn

Kay Martin said...

Fear: only Christians wring their hands with the pain of fear and also guilt! I agree with others who pointed out the Bible is full of God's answer to prayer. He would not have written this hundreds of times if He wasn't sure we would have hundreds of fearful moments.

I figure we're totally insane if we never fear. In fact, fear is our friend when it keeps from endangering ourselves and others.

When fear shows up...and oh brother it does, I immediately talk to God and cry out for His help. I don't let fear bully me and make my life hard, but I honor it and listen to what God says about the issue. My faith in God is the dearest part of me...in fear or joy; everything is about Him.

Keep writing on this; you have an insight that is wonderful. We can all connect; 'cause we all have fears. God bless you beautiful woman of God!!!

MiMi said...

This Esther study is incredible, isn't it? This week's lesson on fear was exactly meant for me. It seems this subject of fear and courage (or the lack thereof) has been coming up a lot lately. God is definitely wanting to do a work in my life in this area.

I posted on my blog this week about this subject, too! I am enjoying this study SOOOO much and am so glad that I made the commitment to attend. I think I would like to take it again as a review after I am finished with this time!

I can hardly wait for this Wednesday to hear Beth's message.

Kimberly said...

I am so glad I stopped here today. Everything you said in your previous post about the "not yet" is SOOOO where I am at! I am afraid that my turn may not ever come. And I am afraid that I am putting my hope in His promises, more than in HIM!

Ginger said...

Your posts are always encouraging! I wanted to share with you an award that was shared with me from my good friend Betsy.."The Friends Award"!

My Army Brats and Me said...

I am fearful of so much. I never was like this before. Cancer is plain scary. I am trying to get passed this. Not sure if I ever will:( Cindy