Okay, so when you think of fear, what comes to mind?
Public speaking, you say?
Oh great, so you're tracking with me here! Apparently we are in good company, according to statistics.
All joking aside.. the latest development in my journey of overcoming fear has come about as a result of public speaking.
It's been quite the journey, which funnily enough, began a few years ago with public speaking. The subject? '20 Seconds of Insane Courage'.
Yep, true story.
I have dealt with completely and utterly paralyzing fear surrounding public speaking. It has been crippling and frustrating.
It has also somehow become freeing, serving as an altar on which I can clearly recall and trace and see the Lord's goodness.
Several months ago, I made a commitment to begin making time in the evenings to write a few days a week. From that commitment to myself and to God came this completely unexpected and beautiful time with the Lord and this pouring out of words onto pages of a notebook that I had not a clue what to do with. I just began to write and waited to see what, if anything, would come of this writing.
One Sunday morning soon after, right in the middle of worship, I suddenly knew what I was to do next. And look, I was not thrilled.
I mustered up twenty seconds of insane courage to approach our Pastor after service and said something like, "Umm, hi, so I've been writing this thing. And I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to share it in a communion meditation but I'd really rather not. I mean, I will. I want to. To be obedient, that is. Not a communion meditation. But I will because God said so. So.. Yeah." (Please insert about a thousand "um's" and imagine a very red face for the sake of historical accuracy)
And you know this was completely and totally the LORD because our Pastor was so very encouraging after those tangled words fell out of my mouth.
I lost a good bit of sleep as the day of my communion meditation approached. My heart was constantly in my throat and I shook like a leaf all that morning. I wanted desperately to run and begged the Lord to sustain me as I felt incredibly physically and emotionally weak. After I somehow managed to get through what I had written without passing out, I returned to my seat and sobbed through the rest of worship, crying out to God, saying, "Lord, this is for You. This is all about You. Please don't let me make this about me or my performance or how I may be perceived or received. Please just let You be visible and glorified above all else."
(God, in all His extravagant goodness and graciousness, allowed this morning to be an unthinkably beautiful and emboldening time for me anyway. He's lavishly good like that.)
Moving forward, though, this became a somewhat regular cycle over the next few months. My stomach would drop when I learned the date of my next meditation and I would feel absolutely sick as the time approached, even though I was growing in intimacy with the Lord in the preparation, prayer and worship leading up to Sunday service. One Saturday evening, I had had enough and texted a couple of precious friends of mine, asking what was so heavily laid on my heart, "Please pray for me. I am so sick over this and I am so sick of this. I am praying for ALL fear to GO and for the FEAR OF THE LORD to be the only thing remaining. Please pray with me!"
I share all of this with you, sweet friend, so you will have an idea of how much of a burden this fear has been for me. And there were many times when I thought I surrendered this fear to the Lord and anticipated breakthrough in this area of my faith, only to be perplexed and momentarily defeated when I didn't see this unfolding quite as I expected.
This was so because my trust in the Lord only went but so far, as it turned out. I trusted Him enough to step out in obedience. I trusted Him enough to place on my heart what to say for a particular service. But I had drawn a line and I didn't yet trust enough that He would fill my mouth if I only opened it in expectation that His Holy Spirit would guide my words and fill my gaps. I just couldn't do it and I reasoned that, well, it wasn't that I didn't trust Him. I just didn't trust myself. I was the problem.
And that right there was exactly the problem. Too much hinged on my ability, or lack thereof. Instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus and keeping my eyes there, too often my gaze wavered and I wondered why in the world I was drowning in this fear.
"In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge." Proverbs 14:26
"Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!" Psalm 34:9
I laid down my fear but then ultimately snatched it right back up because of my own lack.
Lack of fear of the Lord.
Lack of confidence in Him.
Lack of belief.
Fear of the Lord means having "a deep respect, reverence and awe for God's power and authority." If I don't allow Him complete and total authority over my fear, trusting that He, in His sovereignty, will come through, even when I don't see a way, how then can His perfect love cast out fear? (1 John 4:18)
How can we have a deep and personal reverence and awe of Jesus if we are not willing to lay it all down, to risk it all?
How can our eyes be opened to the magnificence of His power and authority in our lives- and how can He be glorified- if we won't loosen our grip on the things we feel like we need to hold onto simply because we are afraid of what will happen when we let go?
Oh, friend. It's quite the journey to exchange your fear for the only fear that is pure (Psalm 19:9). He is able. There are no words for the relief and freedom there is when we can finally wholly surrender our fears to Jesus. His desire is for chains to break and for scales to fall as our eyes are opened to His glory.
I praise Him for His great mercy in this walk of allowing Him to loose the grip of fear in my life. I still am growing in this area but have seen such a transformation. There is still trembling but it is before Him. I have seen Him provide and sustain in new and unimaginable ways this year and can say to you with confidence: God's power and authority far outweigh any fear you find yourself up against. He wants it out of your grasp so that you can see just how glorious He is. I stand in awe of all that He has done with such debilitating fear! Him and Him alone!
Lord, we praise you. You alone are worthy. You are worthy of it all. And so, Lord, we lay down our fear to you today. We lay it all down and pray that even our mustard seed of faith in doing this results in such an abundance and covers our lack in such a way that is unfathomable and unimaginable and supernatural. Please forgive us for the fears we have not yet been able to leave at your feet, God. Let your fear reign over our hearts and let all our worldly fear fall off. You are able, Lord. We cry out for freedom from fear and for a boldness for you and for your kingdom. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
WRITTEN BY: OLIVIA CALDWELL
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