Thursday, August 7, 2014

Breaking Free of Fear

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT 

My neighbor was murdered. By a hit man. At eight o‘clock on a weekday morning. The victim lived two doors down from us in a townhouse apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina.

At least a couple of times a week, usually on my lunch break from work, my neighbor and I would cross paths and nod or smile to each other. Actually, I smiled. He just nodded. Other than that, our part of the complex was quiet. Not a soul around during the day.

That particular day, I didn’t come home for lunch. When I arrived home that evening to my parking lot cordoned off by yellow police tape, I was horrified. How could this happen? A man with mob ties living two doors down? What would have happened if I’d left later that morning? It wouldn’t have been unusual. As a temp employee, I had a flex schedule, and at times, I left late. Would I have seen the gunman? I searched my mind. Had I ever seen him? More importantly, had he seen me?

Too many questions with no answers. The bottom line—I was afraid. The incident slammed me back into the past I’d left in Gainesville, Florida, where only a few years before we’d dealt with one of the most heinous serial killers in the country. Terrorized for weeks in the University town after six students were butchered, no one felt safe. (I wrote previously about the experience here.)  

We all have fears—some have a reasonable basis, others not so much. Even when we fear, or maybe especially when we fear, that’s when our total trust in God’s ability to be present in the midst of that fear is imperative. Furthermore, as Timothy stated above, God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear. That comes from someone else.

I grew up in an environment where fear was used to keep us safe, so I’ve always had issues with any kind of risk taking. One of my biggest fears is making a wrong decision. I have to weigh out all angles and ramifications of the decision before I proceed. Then I ruminate on it some more. And some more.  Then maybe I’ll act on it. 

Last fall, I found myself at a fork in the road. Which path should I take? I wrestled and prayed and, at the beginning of the year, God made it clear he wanted me to act. Still, I dragged my feet and prayed. He gave me a specific Bible passage (Matthew 25:14-29) to make his point.

Then I attended a writers’ conference in February at The Cove in North Carolina. The opening night’s keynote speaker, Steven James, shared the same Bible verse, and his message parroted what God had been telling me. I almost fell out of my chair. I half expected God to send a blustering wind to blow me off the mountain and make me do what he wanted. Thankfully, that’s not the God we serve.

Do you know what I discovered in the six months that followed? God really is the most patient person in the world. J

Although I began taking steps down the path I needed to be on, I finally followed through with that tough decision this week. And the fallout was exactly what I anticipated.

My feelings now? Relief. Maybe a tinge of regret, mainly because I didn’t obey immediately, not because of the outcome. Even so, God used that transition time to delineate my future path more clearly. And it was a time of growth for me. 

God was present in my struggle. He was there when I made the decision. He was most certainly there when I finally acted. God doesn’t lead us down a path and then desert us. Never, ever doubt that He is present. Always.

I experience great peace when I completely rest in the knowledge that God is greater than any fear I have. No matter how difficult the path, we mustn’t lose sight of that.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid…For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

If you would like me to join you in prayer for a particular need, please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you. J

We’ve been praying for a young mother diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago. After brain surgery and intensive treatment, she had two years of clean MRIs and a complete weaning of her chemo. On a follow-up visit last week, she had a disturbing report from the doctor. (An update from Courtney’s FB page is below.)

Dr. Peter's pointed out a spot that looks different from 8 weeks ago on the MRI. It could be that Avastin may have been hiding this spot and since I'm no longer on Avastin, it may now be visible. Dr. Peter's said it could still be scar tissue. We will return for another MRI in 4 weeks instead of the normal 8 weeks. We are to call back in 2 weeks to let them know how I'm doing. Unfortunately, we have to wait to see if there's growth because it is too small to biopsy to determine if it's tumor or scar tissue. It needs to be at least 1 cm and she said that it's close to be at that size. I would appreciate it if you would pray with me that this is just scar tissue. This has hit me really hard today. It's definitely not what we wanted to see. Thanks for the prayers.
God has been so merciful and faithful in answering prayers on Courtney’s behalf over the past three years. Please join me in praying for continued recovery and peace for her while she awaits further testing. While you’re at it, please pray for her little girl and husband. Thank you.

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May God bless you all,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Police Line photo courtesy of Simon Howden/
Bending Road photo courtesy of digitalart/
Sunrise and Misty At Mountain photo courtesy of Photokanok/

1 comment:

  1. Good article. The most often repeated command in all of Scripture (by a long shot) is: "Fear not."