Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Fear… when you think of fear, what do you think of? Being at home alone and hearing a strange sound at 3 in the morning? Maybe just hearing the theme song from Jaws strikes a little fear in your heart? Snakes, spiders or big fat rats are a major fear for most women (and men) that I know. This type of fear causes momentary panic that passes once you realize that strange sounds was just the ice maker filling up with water, the song stops playing or you find relief in the fact that those snakes are behind glass at the zoo.

What about the fear that causes the joy to be sucked right out of your life and leaves you paralyzed day in and day out? This is something that I know a lot about. You may be shocked to know that fear causes me to cry myself to sleep many nights. No one really knows about this except me and the Almighty Himself – not even George who is sleeping mere inches from my sobbing head. I have learned to sob quietly.

I remember way back when I was a freshman in college promising myself that I would not ever let fear control my life. I did not tell myself this in an effort to comfort my current fears since at the time I didn’t realize this would be a battle for me. Rather, I knew I would graduate and move far away from my family and though it would be scary, this was what I knew I would be doing. That was easy though, the thought excited me – I don’t recall ever being scared. People told me I should be scared so I made this proclamation to them and myself. Funny, though, that that proclamation has always stayed in the forefront of my mind. I didn’t need to lean on that promise then, but I do now.

Fear really started in my mid-twenties and gets progressively worse with each passing day. I have feared everything. For a while my fear was that I would never get married & have children and then when I was old I would have no one to drive me the nursing home. Now, this is funny even as I type it, but I literally cried myself to sleep many nights over this. Growing old all alone… who wants to do that? Then I feared I had cancer because when I got out of the shower I had purple spots on my legs – cancer was the only logical conclusion. It never occurred to me that I have very fair skin and take much too hot of a shower. Then I feared that I would have heart attack at the gym, but thankfully they now have portable defibrillators located throughout the place so I just workout on the machines near those. It only makes sense right? I mean that way when I do go down they don’t have to move the machine that far to revive me!

This has all been easy enough to deal with, but now I have Andrew. I am now truly living for something, for someone and I want to live a very long time. And I want him to live even longer. Now my fears are very debilitating. Cancer… I could get cancer and not be able to raise my baby. Car accident… who’s to say it won’t be me in that fiery crash today? My biggest fear is that something will happen to Andrew. I fear every single day of my life that I will leave him in the car all day while I am work. That happens all the time. I fear that something will happen to him because of something I did. I am very careful about any news story I hear or read. If it happened to a child or a young mother, I can’t listen to it. It cripples me… literally. Everyday, all throughout the day, I battle fear.

I know there are many who would say that fear has no place in the life of a Christian, and I somewhat agree. But my fear and anxiety, well that’s just the thorn in my flesh. God uses it to draw me close to him. You see, my fears are about things that no one on this earth can prevent and that God himself may choose not to prevent. That is the reality of life. The good news is that I have the reality of Jesus… the freedom from fear. That freedom doesn’t mean that fear is no longer a part of my life – it will always be a part of my life.

When I cry myself to sleep at night, I do so while pouring out my fears before the Lord. Lord, I don’t want to get cancer and die until Andrew is grown. Lord, please let me live long enough to raise him to know you. Please Lord give me the wisdom to keep him safe at all times. Lord, I am scared. Every single time the same thing happens. Peace… He gives me peace & rest. He calms my fears. Never once does he say “You won’t die young”, “there won’t be an accident” or “Andrew will always be safe”. No, there is just peace that God is sovereign and in control. And every time I find myself in momentary awe and worship of the one who created me and has allowed me to fear. And that is what it is all about… the end result of our struggles should always be worship.

Fear is the thorn in my flesh and it keeps me continually at the feet of Jesus. I may be wrong, but I think it will always be there… keeping me where I need to be. I now realize that the promise I made myself back in college was not ‘Libby Inspired’, but rather ‘God Inspired’. He knew then what I would need now and he gave me something to cling to. What is your thorn? Are you praying that God will remove it? He may not. Your thorn may be the one thing that brings him the most worship and through worship, freedom is found.

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