What are you most afraid of?
What people will think of you? Being misunderstood and desperately wanting to tell the whole story so people know the truth? Are you afraid of failing? Afraid of disappointing your parents? Are you afraid of your leaders or your boss? Are you afraid to grow up? What about fear of change because you'll feel out of control? Afraid of looking like a fool? Afraid people won't like you if you tell the truth? Afraid to loose friends? Afraid you'll never get married? Afraid you'll get divorced just like your parents did? What about fear of the unknown? Are you afraid you'll be rejected if people really know the truth? Are you afraid you'll never have a baby? Afraid that you'll mess your kids up just like your parents messed you up?
Well... fear is a jerk. Fear is like that dumb boyfriend or girlfriend you keep going back to even though they treat you badly because you're afraid you can't do any better. Fear will never play nice. It will seemingly "play nice" when it disguises itself in the form of comfort. Fear will make you comfortable enough to never move in obedience to what God has called you to. It will keep you living a cushy life afraid to free fall into a destiny that looks absolutely crazy, but is filled with promise, adventure, battles, tears, laughter, and glorious victory that comes from The One who has called you to run, not walk into all that He has for you.
I remember being SO afraid to move to New York and start a church with absolutely no team except our 3 children. Yes, they were our team. Team Andrew pioneered Liberty Church with all of our inheritance, savings, and 3 glorious kids who were up for anything that said goodbye to some of their best friends through a lot of tears. Were we the stupidest people on the planet? Probably. And we were about to find out if our move was God or not. What other option did we have? Plan A was jump, get out of the way, and watch God move while Plan B was to give into our fears (those jerks), settle in, and wonder for the rest of our lives if God really spoke to us or not.
And let me tell you we were tested. To the hilt.
I remember on a trip we took to New York in December of 2009 to "spy out the land" where I was personally assaulted by the devil - and yes, it felt like the devil himself. I was so riddled with fear that I didn't want to leave our hotel room. The whole purpose of the trip was reconnaissance, not laying down and dying to my dreams. Paul was ready to go and visit any and every church, check out apartments, eat good food and look at schools for our kids. I was the exact opposite. All I felt were waves of depression, anxiety and fear hitting me like a ton of bricks. I was questioning everything, down to the very obvious and specific promises God had given us. I was full of doubt and had partnered completely with fear.
As usual, Paul wasn't deterred by my fears, so he left me at the hotel for the day so he could go visit churches, and do general recon. I on the other hand, settled in under the blankets of our tiny hotel room with a view of the concrete building next door. I nestled into the cozy place I had made for my fears to completly overtake me... I literally decided to take the day, lie down and roll around in them.
It wasn't long before I was jolted out of the daze of wallowing in my sorrows, that I heard yelling in the room next door. I could hear a father screaming at his little girl and threatening her. Adrenaline immediately started surging through my body and could no longer just lay there in my bed feeling sorry for myself. I was genuinely concerned about this little girl and knew I needed to do something. I jumped out of my bed and started to say out loud to God...
"So is this how it's going to be if I move here? I won't have time to feel sorry for myself because their will be so much need to attend to? I personally don't appreciate this God, I really don't want to confront this guy. I'd rather be lying in my bed feeling overwhelmed, throwing myself a pity party. But I so will confront this man for the sake of the little girl."
Heart pounding out of my chest, adrenaline surging through my veins, and obviously not thinking this through, I walked out of my room over to our neighbors door where the screaming was taking place. I knocked, and almost instantly a very angry, confused and flabbergasted father came to the door and glared at me wondering why I had interrupted their "private" moment that he was unknowingly sharing with me.
I sheepishly said "Is everything alright? Can I help with anything?"
He yelled at me with veins bulging from his neck and eyebrows nearly touching in the middle, "Mind your own business!!!!" and then loudly slammed the door in my face.
I went back into my room and fell to the floor sobbing and shaking as the adrenaline high was quickly wearing off. I laid there on the floor, with the ceiling spinning, comforting myself with quiet sobs only to hear my neighbor (greatly in need of anger management classes) calling security on ME! I should have been calling security on HIM!
A few minutes later I had security knocking on my door. The sweetest security guard was standing there as I opened up the door, all big, strong and looking concerned. He could tell I had been crying and patiently listened to what had happened. After I was done telling my side of the story, he said...
"Mam, let us upgrade you. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I'll take care of it. Grab your stuff and let's go."
Tables had turned sucka!!!! Yeah, go ahead and call security on me and I'll just get upgraded!
I quickly gathered our stuff, and the security guard led me to a room on the executive floor of the hotel. He apologized again, and shut the door behind him.
Now you'd think after getting an upgrade because of a traumatizing experience that I may do a little happy dance for being rescued from sleeping next door to a angry man - but no. I quickly slid into our new bed, covered myself up with the comforter, curtains drawn to keep the darkness in... And I just cried. My body shaking as I let out soft sobs feeling completely overwhelmed. Hot tears were streaming down my face dripping onto the perfectly bleached hotel pillow case.
And as quickly as I lay down to wallow in my fears, I heard a rumbling voice from Heaven say, "GET UP!"
"What? No... I just want to lay here..."
And as clear as anything, again, "GET UP! Go and look out your window."
Still feeling sorry for myself and blanketed in my fears, I obediently swung my legs over the side of the bed, rolled my eyes, stood up, and walked over to the window. I slowly opened up our curtains and the glare from the light caused my eyes to squint. Slowly they adjusted to the brightness of the day... and off in the distance there she was. The most breathtaking view of The Statue of Liberty was right there in front of me.
I felt God say, "All you have to do is lift up your eyes. My promises are right in front of you."
Of course, I was crying again, but this time with joy. The view of Lady Liberty kicked me out of my self-loathing pity party and into the promises God had given Paul and I for our pilgrimage to NYC. Immediately those promises began to come out of me like water being drawn from a deep well of hope. He had told us months earlier that our Church would be called "Liberty" because He would bring freedom to the captives . And right there in front of me, confronting all my fears, there she was... LIBERTY.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have got to shake it off. Fear is a jerk that you DO NOT have to partner with. It will come knocking at your door, it will be slung at you like sludge, but you have a CHOICE to NOT open the door, and a CHOICE to shake it off when it's thrown at you. You are empowered, and fear will lie and tell you that you're not. It will say that you have no authority... That you can't open your mouth to speak the truth and promises of God. BUT THOSE ARE LIES! And let me just say, lies are stupid, and that's the only business the devil is in.
The Liar comes to destroy you:
John 10:10 NIV "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;"
1 Peter 5:8 ESV "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
Are you going to let him? Because he wants to. But you have ALL authority in Christ Jesus to resist the devil and HE WILL flee from you. It's important to note that a life submitted to God is what activates the authority you have to resist the devil. Your authority is all wrapped up in Jesus and what He did for you.
James 4:7 NIV "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
After I caught that glimpse of Lady Liberty, I was reminded of the promises God had given Paul and I and my path was once again made clear. Hope, peace, and joy had replaced my fears and was now surging through my veins.
God's Promises to Paul and I:
Genesis 12:1-4 NIV
"12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram went..."
We were asked to leave the comfort of the life we had built together and GO to a land God would show us. And His promises would outweigh the pain of going. We just had to be obedient and GO.
Isaiah 54:2-3 NIV
"2Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."
This is a generational thing and always has been. We weren't moving here because it was a cool idea. This is for our kids, and their kids and so on, until Christ returns for His Bride. We needed to make room for God to do what He wanted to do through us and in turn set up the generations to come. This required faith and moving even if fear came knocking. And it still requires faith on a daily basis.
And then there is one of my life verses... Psalm 91 all day long people.
Psalm 91 NIV"1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
I have held onto Psalm 91 countless times and will till the day I die. It is such a great weapon in combating fear.
Psalm 112 NIV
"1 Praise the Lord.Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.
2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed."
Yes and amen! There are seasons that I go through where I can fear man's words and speculations more than I fear God and trust in His promises. I must not let the word depart from my heart or mouth, but meditate on it day and night! (Joshua 1:8)
So what are the promises God has given YOU to combat the lies of the enemy?
I'm not going to lie to you (because that would be mean), but you're going to have to suit up and go to war. Being a Christian isn't for sissys. If you're not willing to do that, then go ahead and settle into the bed of your fears. It seems comfortable at first, but it's a straight jacket that will rob you of a life FULLY lived in the personal technicolor, breathtakingly beautiful reality awaiting you. Your lies are jerks sent as an assignment from the pit of hell to destroy you. They will abuse you until you breathe your last breath, unless you CHOOSE to break agreement with them and combat them with the TRUTH.
Freedom from fear is at your fingertips, you just have to be willing to step into it no matter how messy it gets. You've got to roll up your sleeves, and do the work. God has already done His part, you just have to come into agreement with all that has been done for you.