Living For Jesus

Overcoming Fear in Your Life

Fear is an overwhelming all encompassing mindset that can take over your world and make you live life on its terms. It’s something people who never experience its viselike grip can’t understand, which causes them to offer often-discouraging advice. It’s something that can lead you to truly paranoid behavior and can keep you from experiencing any moment of true happiness. It’s a spirit that has to be dealt with, but when it’s firmly entrenched can be like a dandelion. Just when you think you’ve gotten it all, it springs back from the tip of the root. Even when you have managed to eradicate it the winds of life may blow its seeds back into your life.

Fear is conquered only one way, through absolute dependence and trust in God that whatever comes your way His hand is there to guide you through and give you the resources to withstand any onslaught of the enemy physical or spiritual. It is the power of the Holy Spirit who is our comforter that ensures that no weapon formed against us will prosper. If we face physical harm or assault, He will be there with us to comfort us and to make it possible to face whatever we must face. God asks us to live in the here and now, not in the what if. Fear lives in the what if, and the first place it takes root is in our minds.

As a child I listened to the what ifs of the devil. What if your entire family was to die? You’d be all alone in the world. No one would ever love you again. What if you were in a car accident? You’d suffer horrible pain and you could be trapped with everyone dead around you. What if the tilt-a-whirl car went flying off into the air? What if everyone starts making fun of you at school? What if? What if? It’s here that the seeds of fear were initially sown in my life. I had nightmares of being chased and nightmares where I couldn’t see clearly and got lost. I added to the problem by reading stories of ghosts and witches which gave me a whole new realm to fear. Add that the Holy Spirit was called the Holy Ghost in my church and wasn’t ever truly described, and I was afraid that some day I might meet the Holy Ghost. Although I could not imagine what the specific horror would be in that, I was sure, because He was a ghost, it would be bad.

I grew up. The powerlessness that one feels as a child is laid aside as adulthood is taken up. It did much to keep fear in the background of my life. Most of my fears had been channeled into phobias, a fear of heights and a fear of being on the water. These were manageable. In college, I was as far away from God as I have ever been, and the fears weren’t my constant companion. They came roaring back when I recommitted my life to Christ as a young mother. I can remember being so afraid to return to my home alone after dark that I would set up security measures to assure myself that no one had entered the house. I left strings where they would be disturbed if someone attempted to hide in the basement. All closet doors were left wide open when I left, so that I could immediately see if someone was hiding there when I returned. My husband was gone from home one week out of three plus any other time when his plane was diverted due to weather. So I was on my own much more than I liked. About the only time I felt a modicum of safety when I was alone was when it was a raging blizzard outdoors and it seemed improbable that even homicidal maniacs would venture out. I was truly paranoid and remained so for years.

I kept a handle on my fears only because I feared what would happen if I became unable to leave the house. This was the period where I tried all the standard options that people tell you will help. I read scripture about fear. One of my favorites was, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I worked hard on getting a sound mind. I read informative articles on what to do if attacked and how to keep your home safe from burglars, and I read the crime reports to convince myself that nothing truly bad ever happened in our little out of the way no place. I told myself to cut it out, that I wasn’t trusting God and just need to do that. It was a roller coaster ride.

I didn’t find true relief until I got outside help. No, I didn’t go to a therapist. After coming back to Christ, my husband and I had joined a non-denominational evangelical church. My husband was being drawn towards a deeper relationship with God, which led him to remember that as a teen he’d been baptized in the Holy Spirit. We eventually found our way to a charismatic church, and on one Sunday when a speaker had been speaking about getting set free from the hindrances in our lives, he specifically mentioned a spirit of fear. I went forward, and he commanded the spirit of fear to let me loose. It did, and for the first time in a very long time, I was free. Understand that I had been praying to be set free for some time. I had cried out to God to remove the fear inside me. But I had always seen it as something of mine, not something that was an outside force controlling me. I’ve since learned it is possible to command these things to go on your own, but often a person controlled by fear can’t effectively do this. They need outside help.

Fear was not done with me. It still tries to come back and overwhelm me. It’s managed to do that, too. But I now know exactly what to do when I start feeling that panic gripping my chest. I don’t nurse it. I get rid of it. If I can’t get rid of it on my own, I get help. I refuse to go back and be crippled by fear again. There are measures that I take to keep it at bay. Whatever the particular fear issue, I find scripture that specifically deals with it. I stand on that scripture. I also believe that God wouldn’t ask us to take every thought captive if that weren’t what he meant. When a fearful thought comes, I denounce it and tell fear to be gone from my life. I don’t entertain the thought. When I do, and I’ll admit that it happens more than I like, that insidious dread that starts to spread through me will eventually trigger my Holy Spirit alarm. The Holy Spirit will always nudge you when you’re heading down the wrong path. It’s up to us to acknowledge that nudge and do something about it. Well, I realized long ago that I need something a little stronger than a nudge. I need an alarm clock. A loud obnoxious alarm clock. So, I asked the Holy Spirit to be my fear alarm clock. He faithfully lets that alarm clock go off whenever I venture to close to the edge.

When that alarm clock goes off, I know that I need to take it seriously. If I haven’t commanded fear to go, I do so. If that doesn’t work, I usually try to find someone to help me. In the age of cell phones, someone is usually not far away. I rarely need to take that step. When necessary, I don’t listen to the little voice that tells me they’ll think I’m a fool, or they’ll think …. … (fill in the blank), or if you call it just proves what a weak Christian you are. I tell someone I’m having trouble being afraid about whatever it is. I ask them to pray with me, and that usually takes care of that. You know who the prayer warriors in your life are, use them.

I’ve also learned that whenever I command fear to go I need to ask the Holy Spirit to put something in its place. That can be peace or some opposite of whatever I’m feeling, but I’ve also found that He prefers to change my focus. Fear is self-focused. Even if we are fearful of something terrible happening to someone else, the fear is in what that event will do to me. When we’re self-focused, it’s easier for fear to take hold, so often God turns my focus elsewhere. It’s surprising that worrying about how to help someone else in difficulty can keep you from being fearful, but it does. Too often, we think that we will overcome problems in our thought life by thinking holy thoughts. It’s far more useful to spend your thoughts on finding solutions to other peoples problems or praying for them. Once you’ve prayed that God deliver you from a specific fear, find someone else to pray about. From there, you’ll find it much easier to move into praise and thanksgiving, and you will discover that somewhere along the way you’ve found a measure of peace for yourself.

We live in a fallen world. Each of us must learn to deal with the effects that sin has brought into it. For some, that means repeatedly beating back the spirit of fear. It can be defeated in your life because the Lord Jesus has already defeated it. Remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The power of the Holy Spirit will set you free and enable you to think clearly and see reality as it truly is. In The Name Of Jesus, the sprit of fear must flee. Command it to go. Get help when you need it. Turn your focus off yourself and on to the needs of others.

"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12

Copyright ©  2007 Beverly S. Krueger