This is a devotional that I recently shared at my final sorority meeting. It was probably topic number five that I was going to write about. I wanted to speak about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and tell about the journey that I have been on this year, then as I was starting to write that devotions I was scrolling through old photos to find the date of an event and was suddenly overcome with how different my body looked. I went down this massive rabbit hole downward spiral that had me standing outside the library crying on the phone to my mum for half an hour. So that brings me here, to writing about taking a stance against fear. (note: I’m never at the library, I’m not that studious please don’t think I am)
When I phoned Mum she asked me how I was doing, and my only reply was “I don’t know,” because I had been having such an amazing day filled with fellowship and time with Jesus and was now suddenly overcome with self-doubt, fear, a perceived lack of control, and all these lies. The first thing my Mamma said to me was that God has not given us a spirit of fear so if I am suddenly overcome by fear, it is not from God. It is the enemy wanting to steal my joy because it is the joy of the Lord that gives me strength, and wanted to break the power of God wanted to say through my devotional.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
During the conversation I came to realize so many lies that I had bought into in the past in regards of my body, relationships and the future (potential blogs maybe?), the root of which was fear. Fear that I would never look the way I wanted to again, fear that I would lose control, fear that I would never be loved by a guy, fear that I am not worthy. I had a disturbing dream that night before, and I had a mountain of school work that I just could not get myself to start in front of me. Mum pointed out that all these things are not from God, God did not feed me these lies, and God did not want to confuse or scare me. She encouraged me to feed myself with truth, to read Ephesians 6, put on the armor and let God fight this battle for me. The victory has already been won in Jesus, we just need to “having done everything, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NLT)
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
Another translation says:
Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
The Bible tells us that we are not fighting against flesh or blood, but against evil spirits. My struggles are not with my body or mind, or with other people, but against the lies of the devil who is trying to derail me from the power of God’s purpose for my life. Think of a moment that you have sat back and just said “Wow God, that was insane!” In that moment you feel so much peace, so much joy and freedom, and that makes you feel untouchable; almost powerful. That is the power of living in God’s purpose, and it is the power that God wishes for us to live in every day. It comes from His spirit and is enabled when we rest in Him.
As I was spilling my fears and doubts to my mum, I was pacing up on a wall outside the library. I suddenly had the desire to be up on the wall, not on the standing on the ground or sitting on a bench – I wanted power and control over my situation. Towards the end of the conversation my mum said that I needed to hand over my idol to God and allow His truth to speak into my life. Honestly, I wanted to vomit when she said that. I am a massive control freak, so giving up something to God means accepting that the outcome that I desire might not come true and that scared me to no end. Eventually though, I stopped pacing and sat down on the wall. I felt so much peace just from doing that, almost as though I was physically surrendering to Jesus. Defeated in my powerlessness and hopelessness, but at peace knowing that God is holding my burden and fighting the battle for me. He promises in Philippians 1:6 that He will continue the good work that He has started in us; I did not need to fear about the outcome of this battle or what would become of this idol that I had created, because God is at work there and promises to continue with it.
What I do need to do however, is keep my eyes and thoughts fixed on what is true, what is pure and what is holy. Psalm 121 was a passage that I repeated to myself multiple times a day during a week that I would say was the week where I was most overcome by fear in my life and is one that I will probably keep repeating to myself as I walk out this next journey.
Psalm 121:1-8 (NLT)
I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.
The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.
The Lord keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
God promises to watch over me, to continue His work in me, to protect me from harm, and all I need to do is put on my armor – truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, faith and the Spirit. The beauty of this is, that these things aren’t anything we can control or work for; God is all of these things and grants them to us by His grace. We just need to sit in His presence, let Him speak truth to us and give Him our burdens. This is easy to say and do when we are in the euphoria of His goodness and grace, in the vulnerability of reaching the point of desperation that Jesus is the only way forward and in the “mountain top moments” of life. It is difficult however, when we are wrestling with fear and wanting to overcome it by our own strength, wisdom and experience. If someone had told me this before I phoned my mum I probably would have rolled my eyes and told them not to slap me with scripture when all I need is a hug and someone to listen to how awful my life is. Bless my mother though, she knew exactly how to slap me with scripture and tell me to get out of the rabbit hole of despair and self-pity, to stop making more out of my issues than they were and to not give the devil more power than he deserves, without me feeling victimised and angry.
I sometimes feel as though this is an ugly see-saw cycle that I am in. That I go from being crippled by fear, to mountain top victory, back down again to hyperventilating on the phone. This is not the life God has called me to, nor is it the life to the fullest that He promised me. My job then is outlined in Ephesians – to stay alert and pray in the spirit at all times. Recognize the difference between hormones throwing your emotions out of whack, and the enemy throwing you curveballs to steal your joy. Know that God wants to move powerfully in and through you and the devil knows this and will try his best to prevent it. This is why before and after retreat everyone experiences the craziest week, gets sick and feels too tired to even go. It is why before you have a breakthrough you walk through hell first.
Be aware of when big moments are coming; for me tonight was a big moment and in a few weeks I have another big moment coming up. When you are aware, you can recognize these spiritual attacks for what they are and sharpen your sword with the truth of God’s word in order to stand firm. Have verses up your sleeve, like the ones I have shared, to recite out loud and refuse the devil room in your life. Know your trigger points that get you to the tipping edge; mine are loneliness, lack of intimacy, and comparison, they show themselves up through body image issues, self-worth doubts, the fear of being single forever, sexual temptation, and fear of losing control or failing in various areas of my life. When these triggers appear, Lord have mercy, ask for help before you give in or breakdown, let the truth denounce the lies before you run out of Kleenex or you scare strangers just wanting to study for finals. This may come from talking to someone who is wise enough to give you truth but mature enough to carry your burden with you, reading God’s word or fleeing the situation physically.
This winter break, or Christmas break for me (I’m having winter and then going back for summer before starting school again), spend some time with Jesus to figure out what it is that causes your insecurities, fears or struggles with sin and find the scriptural truth about them. Then be aware of when they often arise in your life so that you can combat them with God’s word and power before they kick you down the rabbit hole again. During finals week please take good care of yourself, make time for God and for Godly fellowship even when you do not feel as though you have time. Somehow whenever you honor God with your time first He always comes through with enough time and focus to get all one million and ten things done, and it is through these times that you will get the strength to hit a home run off the curveballs that are thrown your way.