I am still in awe. The Lord is ushering us into new heights in our relationship and communion with Him. He is good. All the time, ladies.
Last night’s in-person study was amazing. It was amazing because of our connection with one another. And most of all, it was amazing through prayer. Those who were afraid to pray out loud joined in and sounded as if they’d prayed aloud for their whole lives! I sense new confidence and fearlessness. What a tremendous blessing for us all!
Our Past / Shame
Before moving into the topic of fear, we spent just a few minutes talking about our past and accompanying shame. Priscilla Shirer hit it out of the park with her comments on page 98 of Fervent. Please take a few minutes and re-read the second paragraph – the one that begins with “First, God doesn’t live in the past.” She gave us ample reason to reject the lies of the enemy when he reminds us of days gone by.
As a group, we looked at 1 Corinthians 3:21-22. Paul is giving us a glimpse of the inheritance we have in Christ. We aren’t to boast in our human leaders. In Christ, everything belongs to us, and on that list are “… things present or things to come.” Think through this: Past. Present. Future. Which of these three did Paul omit from our list of belongings? The Past.
The past does not belong to us.
Christ has already redeemed it.
He’s using it – right now – for our good and His glory.
As we look back on our past, from the heavenly places and in the unseen, our past looks nothing like we remember. God’s fingerprints and molding are all over it. It no longer belongs to us. We’re no longer allowed access.
Consider Romans 8:1 – there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Conviction (the pricking of our hearts and minds when we’re on the wrong track)… yes. Condemnation (disapproval and pending punishment), no. There’s none of that.
Because when we are in Christ, we are new creations. The old things have passed away. New things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Because “Thus says the LORD . . . Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19).
If you battle shame over your past, ask the Lord to help you leave it where it belongs – behind you where such things pass away. Look instead to the present. Right now, where God is doing something new.
Please, don’t miss today’s blessing because you’re stuck in the past.
On to Overcoming Fear…
As I’ve said, fear is a very real, very personal struggle for me. At least it has been in the past. I’m more apt to declare freedom from fear than ever before in my life… except that I was struck with momentary, body-numbing fear just a few days ago. Praise the Lord it didn’t last long and I recognized it as an attack in record time. I’ll claim and celebrate that progress, thank you!
I love Priscilla’s chapter on prayer strategies for fear. With one exception. She encourages us to push through the fear and “do it anyway.”
I don’t disagree with her prompting. Not in the least. But I’ve been so completely paralyzed by fear that there was no way I could take a step forward. Here’s an abbreviated version of the story:
My son found himself in a mess several years ago. A legal mess. It involved the police in his out-of-state college town. Even after we learned things would eventually work out, I was still plagued with a consuming, paralyzing sense of fear. It was a fear I couldn’t name or describe, but I could barely hold a thought in my head or function from day to day.
After weeks of prayer, the Lord finally showed me that the source of my fear was shame – over personal past sin. This incident brought a simmer to a full boil. I felt terrified that this mistake was my fault and that I’d let my family down as I had in years past.
Overcoming the Paralysis of Fear
The fact that Priscilla ties shame (our past) to fear as neighboring prayer strategies in her book is confirmation to me that I’m not alone in this. One can lead to the other. For me, I had to overcome the paralysis before I could step forward.
Here are 5 steps/strategies that helped:
Acknowledge the fear and pray through it.
Until we admit that we’re afraid, concede to the fact that our fear is real, we can’t pass through it. Declaring to the Lord something like, “I’m scared out of my socks here, God,” is a great first step to embracing freedom. Pray and ask for His help, but be sure your petitions show complete and honest transparency.
Fight Fear with Scripture.
The more Scripture (TRUTH) we have in our heads, the fewer lies can penetrate our thick skulls. Memorizing is a great idea. Praying Scripture (which we’ll discuss more next week) is a mighty weapon. Scripture is our only offensive weapon named in the armor of God. Wield that Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!
Share the Struggle.
Enlist a friend or two for help. One that you can text message, “Pray NOW” and she’ll know exactly what you’re facing. Ask for her prayer coverage daily – not just when you’re facing a struggle. Don’t go this alone. There’s no need for that. Partner with someone, and with the Lord you’ll form that cord of 3 strands which is not easily broken.
Watch for God to work in unexpected ways.
Our worst fears might be realized. What we dread may come to pass. But we must know that God is in control and will use every bit of it for our good. Beth Moore teaches that when we press through a trial, only then can we find the promise that awaits us. Trust God with all your might and know that He is at work, even when you don’t feel you can see Him. Even when the outcome of your prayers is completely unexpected.
Choose Faith over Fear.
Raise your shield of Faith, even while your knees knock and your legs tremble. Raise that shield and ward off the fiery darts of the enemy.
With our paralysis gone, we can take a step forward to move through fear instead of allowing it to stop us in our tracks.
Why Fight to Overcome Fear?
Fear chokes God’s promise out of our lives. It makes us forget how BIG God is – His sovereignty, His power, and most of all His authority. We want nothing to do with it and yes, we can overcome.
As one sweet sister reminded us last evening, Satan is a defeated foe. Remember that, as well as the holy power and might of the Most High God!
Sometimes fear looks like worry… or confusion … or anxiety. Nip it in the bud right now before it goes any further. The strategies are the same. Put them to work and watch God move. He’s already fighting for you, even while you sleep.
I’ll leave you with a final verse: Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace for it is trusting in You.”
In this verse, the Hebrew word for “dependent” is samech. It means to trust, uphold, support, firm, stay. Think of a large tent with a center pole. Samech acts as the center pole. If all the outside poles were removed, the tent could still stand. It may look different from how we’d expect a tent to look, but inside we could find comfort, protection, and peace.
Let the Lord be your Samech. Trust Him.