What can man do to me?
To say I was an anxious child is probably the understatement of the century. I feared everything. Each day, I would worry throughout the day about going to bed that evening. An hour before bed I would check my whole room over for spiders, then I would fear that I wouldn’t have even seen a spider if there was one because the colours in my room were so dark. Every night I would shout to my parents to check whether they had locked the door, or I would double check for myself, and every night I would lie there with the tormenting thought that tonight would be the night a burglar came to the house. Our back door was single glazed and so I assumed we would be a target for entry, as well as the estate we lived on, and the fact that our gate barely closed. If I was awake during 2-4am, which I usually was, my anxiety heightened due to the fact that I saw these hours as prime burglary times, and hated the thought of being awake when the burglar came into my room. My only comfort, and as I kept reminding myself, was that there was a hospital down the road with nurses and doctors, so I knew I couldn’t the only one awake in the world. I hated the thought of Father Christmas, because why would any one want a strange man lurking around in their room. I was regularly ill, I had issues with food and was under hospital assessment for problems with my breathing.
During high school through different encounters, I had a severely warped image of men in my head and assumed the many strangers I saw day after day were out to hurt me. These fears manifested slightly differently as I grew up. I regularly feared the death of my parents or family members. I was known as ‘little megs’, by many who knew me, which I felt was the reflection of my heart: weak, and extremely sensitive. I rarely engaged in conversation, I was shy and easily embarrassed.
My fears subsided in upper school, but I took on a different identity where I became somewhat confident and self-assured. My insecurity and anxiety still existed but were continually being covered by a status that I had it all together. My heart grew hard and my logic was that if I wasn’t going to make it with a sensitive heart, I’d make it some other way. I wanted to be the best with the belief that I never would be. I would push my limits, continually lie, be loud mouthed, aggressive, and was deeply bitter. Underneath, it was still fear that held me the fear of rejection, of not being good enough and the fear of being vulnerable.
I remember all of these feelings consummated in a period of about three months where I experienced such darkness and hopelessness. I remember crying and crying and every time someone asked me why, I would answer that I had no idea why I was crying and I had no idea who I was and at times living felt more scary than dying. I knew deep down that I was a slave to fear, but never truly understood there was someone to save me from it.
It was arriving in Kenya in February 2011, that meant I couldn’t run from fear any longer. I remember calling my parents and demanding them to put me on a return flight. After years of dreaming about Kenya, it was nothing like I’d expected. I was hit with the reality of what I’d entered myself in for as I was a white girl in a sea of black faces, being hit with smells, sights, and sounds I had never even heard and a driver I couldn’t find at the airport. I then was taken to the house I would be staying in, and while it was definitely not a mud hut, there was no power that particular day, a gecko on my wall, men guarding the door with bows and arrows, and no one else in the house. It was in this desperation and fear that I called out God, and that He called back to me.
Those three months were the most painful months of my life as I felt every wall inside of me ripped down. I was left with nothing to hide behind. I slowly learnt to trust the God who was truly good all of the time, and I traded with Him daily, bags and bags of ashes for beauty.
I don’t tell all this to brag about pain, but to boast about a gracious and good God who brought me out of this. My life on paper was NOT set for where I stand now, but I serve a good God, who can’t resist restoring His children. See God didn’t change my life ‘He exchanged it with His’. My life is a miracle, not because I outgrew fear, but because Jesus died to remove fear.
See, fear is a spirit ( 2 Timothy 1:7), it is a foreign invader. Fear is one of the devil’s fiercest weapons. For, the devil has no ability to create only to distort, so, as a result, the devil continually manipulates what God intended for good, turning faith to fear, and truth to lies. Fear is the direct opposite of faith, shown when Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 4:40 ‘why are you so afraid? do you still have no faith?’. Fear is not who we are, it’s who the devil wants us to be. When Jesus died on the cross He died to set us free, not to have us bound in chains.
The problem for many is that the spirit of fear is cast out but it is not replaced with truth. If the fear is removed it must be replaced by truth otherwise fear will take dominion again.
‘The enemy kills steals and destroys because of our ignorance not because he is powerful.’
Fear is a silent declaration over our lives. Proverbs 18:21 states, ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue’. Just as we have the ability to declare a change in atmosphere with truth and the promises of God, it can also be done with lies. If we continually declare we are sick, it is an option we will become sick, if we continually declare we won’t get the job, won’t have money etc. we most probably won’t. I’m not saying God isn’t in control, I’m saying, fear stifles faith.
When Moses sent the 10 in to the promised land in Numbers, the spies came back after 40 days and spoon fed each other their fears.
God told Moses: ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” (Numbers 13:2).
I don’t believe God was testing the land, I believe He was testing the leaders. This is a land that had been promised from the very start, a promise that He once again stated in this command to Moses. God had no doubts whether the the children of Israel would possess the land, it was whether His people would trust his promises.
After the men return after 40 days in Canaan, they report to the crowd:
‘Nevertheless’ is such a key word here. Those who report sing the delight of a land of milk and honey and they hold up its fruit, but ‘nevertheless’ changes everything because though they hold up it’s fruit, though they hold the promise of the land, they focus on what’s to fear.
As the list of deterrents continue; as the Israelites begin to sigh and mutter amongst themselves, Caleb quietens the people: ‘let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Caleb knows the promise, yet now he’s hushed as the men who travelled with Him continue to state the giants, and the strength and stature of those who could devour. Then follows this verse: ‘and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight’. (Numbers 13:33)
Because they were grasshoppers in their own sight, they became so in the sight of others. Henry Ford wrote ‘what we believe to be true about ourselves becomes a reality.’ See, the problem was, the Israelites still had a slave mentality. After hundreds of years of slavery, the cry that breaks forth from their mouths is this: ‘ if only we had died in the land of Egypt’ ‘would it not be better for us to return to egypt’. Egypt was diabolical!!!!!! What were they thinking? They were still functioning under an orphan spirit. Here is Israel, stood barely a year out of Egypt, on the threshold of the Promised Land and they’re yearning to turn back. After all their preparation, the plagues, being spared and delivered, seeing the sea’s part, food provided and the glory of the Lord fill the tabernacle- in their cry to turn back to Egypt, it’s as if they’re saying ‘where, oh where is our Father?’
We can craft an environment by either fearing or having faith. The Israelites had no idea who they were or who their God was. It wasn’t that the promise they would possess the promised land was eroding, it was their poor conception of who they were. It was fear that cost the Israelites this land, and it would take an entirely new generation of people to enter into it. The promises of God never change, but man’s fear can hinder the destiny He has for us. It’s with these chilling words that God says,
It’s often easier to give in to fear than uphold truth. But this is also the case in the natural. It’s often easier to obtain counterfeit material than the true, but it’s never as good. You’d think the Israelites would know truth, you’d think after everything they’d seen they’d trust in God, but they didn’t. We must choose to see the fruit. We must know we are children of God.
God never came to comfort fear, He came to eradicate it. We must fight for a continual reminder of His perspective, and of His promises. I used to have this battle in my mind because however much I trusted in God, I always knew it was still an option that I will walk down a street and be kidnapped. The more I trusted, would it mean these things wouldn’t happen?
I think it’s this. God never promises that I won’t get kidnapped or that I won’t experience financial difficulty or persecution, but He does promise He will always be with me.
Heidi Baker writes in her book, ‘Birthing the miraculous’:
‘I have been beaten up, shot at, lied about. People have even tried to strangle me. I am not afraid. To this day I can body walk into gangs of armed thugs and tell them to stop in the name of Jesus. I expect them to drop their knives. Generally they turn surprisingly nice. Sometimes they look at me and apologize. Where did this confidence come from? It came from knowing the Father loves me. Because i truly know that I am loved, I am not afraid/
What can anyone do when you are fearless? When you cannot be made to fit in preconcieved boxes, even people who want to think of you as an enemy will not know what to do with you. But you can be truly fearless only when you are in love- when you are immersed and yielded to the point that you do not care about the cost. If you are always in the river, always in love, and always ready to pay any price, it doesn’t matter what the world does to you. In the secret place you do not fear being shot at or being killed. Jesus has become utterly real to you. If you die, you go to heaven.’
Does overcoming fear mean that we won’t find ourselves in particular circumstances? No? But it means the circumstances I find myself in, look different.
It was Caleb, the only exception from the congregation of the Israelites aside from the children, who was able to possess the promised land because of the ‘different spirit within him’ and the one who God said, ‘had followed him fully’. Caleb possessed the promise because He knew who His Father was. He trusted despite circumstance, He fixed His eyes on the fruit and not that which would cause fear. It wasn’t that Caleb didn’t see what the others saw, He just chose to fix His eyes on something greater.
God wanted that for all the children of Israel and He wants it for us, what’s stopping you? It’s not about us being strong, thinking positively, or mustering up enough energy to defeat our goliaths, it’s about being so consumed in His perfect love, that fear has no other option but to flee.