Is fear ever truly healthy? If so, how do you decipher if the fear gnawing in the pit of your stomach needs to be fed or starved?
That is the question I was staring at two years ago. I was wrestling with the unknown. My required response was either flee my fear or face it. Facing my fear may seem like the desired logical, brave, big-girl reaction. However, I wasn’t just scared to talk to a homeless man or visit Florida. This fear was fueled by the desire to keep my children safe from unknown predators.
Let me take you back to the beginning
A few years ago, after a period of intense heart stirring, my husband and I began tiptoeing down a new path of surrender. We felt the Lord nudging us toward lightening our load in preparation for an unconfirmed future. We sold things, we downsized and we began considering things that we’d never considered before. The further down the road we walked, the more curious we became—where was God leading us? Soon we approached a bend in the road, a place where we could not see around the corner. We believed that selling our home was probably our next step of faith. However, we had no clarity for what would come after or where we would live. Once again, we returned to prayer and asked God to lead us into the unknown.
At this time we received a unique offer to move a few hours away and help oversee an RV campground. In exchange for our time, we would be compensated with free housing and food. There were many aspects to this proposition that appealed to us. We could be free of our mortgage while we continued to seek wisdom for our next step. Our efforts to downsize would be rewarded in a smaller living space. We would be stepping out in faith toward something new.
The offer is considered
In order to gain clarity and better understand the possible situation in which we would be moving into, our family drove a few hours to visit the RV park. Throughout the duration of our stay we experienced several unique confirmations that pointed us in the direction of wanting to accept the offer and move forward.
On the last morning of our visit, our kids were outside riding their bikes. When they returned to the house, our daughter had a look of concern clouding her face. “Mom, there was a man in one of the cabins who was yelling at us out his window and he made me feel really uncomfortable,” she confided. At that moment it felt as though the air was being sucked out of the room. Suddenly my confidence shattered and wondered how I ever thought this arrangement could work.
The offer is poison
During our drive home my mind was racing faster than the car. Who tries to raise their kids in an RV park? What kind of mom would I be to bring my children into an environment teeming with strangers–not just strangers: transient strangers! How could I ever live with myself if something happened to them just because we decided that an unconventional living arrangement was a good idea? Later, after discussing these concerns with Trent, we both agreed that it was not wise to move forward unless we both felt peace. I certainly didn’t have peace so I set my mind toward accepting the hard truth that seemed to be staring me in the face: we were not going to move after all.
Days passed and I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in my heart. My lack of peace, which I had previously decided was brought on by divine discernment, caused me to feel restless and agitated. How was it possible that everything had pointed so clearly in one direction only to have it sharply U-turn unexpectedly? Wasn’t this feeling of unease from God as well? Wasn’t it? Somehow I couldn’t reconcile the two extremes.
I found myself in contemplative reflection as I remembered previous times in my life in which the Lord had clearly directed my steps. In an attempt to gain more clarity into those situations, I pulled out old journals and sought to retrace those moments of clear conviction. I read about occasions when I had stood at the crossroads of decision and God brought a confident answer through a time of prayer and fasting.
That next day I determined to beseech wisdom from God and set aside an agenda of food in exchange for focused time in prayer and reading the Bible. That afternoon I sat down on my bed and opened my heart asking God to help me know His will. I asked for confidence in how to decipher the feelings of anxiety I felt over the safety of my children. Finally, I asked for peace in whatever decision He was leading us into. I opened my bible and began to read from the book of Psalms. When I reached the third chapter, I felt as though the blinds had been pulled back from my eyes and the light of truth was pouring into the dark room. In this chapter David has fled from his son Absalom who was seeking to harm him. He exclaims,
O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of my soul, there is no deliverance for him in God.
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God! For you have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people!
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
In that moment I understood that David was able to exclaim confidently “You, O Lord are a shield about me…I will not be afraid…You have relieved me in my distress…hear my prayer” despite the fact that he was being hotly pursued by thousands because he understood that the Lord was his protector. I saw that David cried out to the Lord and the Lord answered him with a confident assurance.
Untangling the lies
I now realized that the deceiver had woven lies, whispered fears and I had quickly cultivated them in my heart. I knew that God had used this particular passage of scripture to remind me that He alone is our true shield and protection. My desire to keep my children safe is no reason to refuse to walk the path that the Lord places before me. Once I uncovered the truth, my fear fell away. In its place came a peace that allowed us to peek around the corner at the next step in our path: listing our home for sale.
Finding the truth
As I reflect now on our year and a half living as managers in that campground before launching out on our RV traveling adventure, I am reminded of the crippling effect that fear can cause. The entire course of our family stood in the balance over one fear craftily woven. The ironic truth is that our family loved that year and a half. The transient strangers that I feared never materialized and instead we were blessed with unique friendships and community.
It causes me to stop and wonder, are there any fears that I am currently cultivating? What move of God might those fears be preventing? As I continue to lean into this theme of pursuing fearlessness won’t you lean with me?