He leaned down and pulled at the tie holding the large burlap sack closed. I noticed sixteen-year-old Tony’s movement but continued with my class lecture as though I didn’t. I let my eyes sweep the floor where the sack lay and when I saw its burlap surface moving in wave-like motion, I knew for certain what was about to happen.
The slight smirk on Tony’s face assured me of his plan to release a snake into the classroom sending a just-out-of-college-twenty-three-year-old teacher and most of her students into the hallway screaming! As its head emerged from the bag and a giant boa constrictor began to slither down the isle toward me I quickly assessed my options and determined a display of fear and panic would not be one of them.
Forcing my lungs to breathe deeply and my voice to remain calm I looked up from my lecture notes and cheerily exclaimed, “Oh Tony! I see you’ve brought one of your pet snakes to class for us to see today. How interesting. Could you bring it up here and show it to us?” I then asked the students to circle around Tony and his reptile so he could show and tell us all about it. Tony’s fallen countenance reflected his disappointment at not being able to disrupt and terrorize the classroom that day.
I quickly assessed my options and determined a display of fear and panic would not be one of them.
A few of the girls kept their distance at the rear of the classroom but the rest of the students cautiously circled around. And just to be sure I won the “fear fight” that day, I asked if I could touch the giant boa. With slight shivers down my spine, I reached my hand out and stroked the cold, rough texture then encouraged the other students who had never touched a live snake to do the same. Only a few of them were inclined. By the time the bell rang, the snake was secured back in the burlap bag and I was making my way to the next classroom, happy that I had worn my “never let ‘em see you sweat” antiperspirant that day!
There have been other more potentially serious situations I have encountered where fear has been a major enemy. Like the time my doctor discovered a three and a half centimeter tumor sitting on my left thyroid and vocal chords. Not knowing if it was cancerous or not, I spent the two weeks leading up to the scheduled surgery fighting fear each night when I went to bed. Fear that I had cancer. Fear that I would suffer as I had seen family members and friends suffer from both the disease and its treatment. Fear that my vocal chords would be damaged in surgery. And the biggest fear of all – that I would die and leave my three young children without a mother.
There have been other more potentially serious situations I have encountered where fear has been a major enemy.
A couple of days before surgery, I asked a friend to watch my children and I had a showdown with the enemy. Since we know fear does not come from God (2 Tim. 1:7), “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind”, it obviously is a tool and weapon used against us by the one who would love to defeat our spirits.
In my fight that day, I prayed, I cried out to God and I quoted scripture. I walked up and down the hallway of our home declaring scriptures such as Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I told the enemy that if God allowed it, he could cause me to suffer and that if God allowed it he could even take my life but that even in that scenario he wouldn’t win because he would NEVER have my will or my spirit. I told him that if I died and left my children without a mother to raise them I was certain the God who created them and knew them before I did would send someone to help see to their needs and give them the love I couldn’t be there to give. I prayed until I felt I had delivered the final punch and had no more fear. “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
I prayed until I felt I had delivered the final punch and had no more fear.
The morning my surgical team rolled me into the operating room I had perfect calm and complete peace. Zero fear. I knew that regardless of the outcome, God and I had won the fight! The words of Hebrews 13:6 were very real to me that day, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…”
Billy Graham once said, “Anxiety and fear are like baby tigers: The more you feed them, the stronger they grow.” So we have to ask ourselves why in the world we would want to feed something that has the potential to destroy us?
I have observed through the years that fear is a major tactic our enemy uses not only to destroy us but also to keep us from reaching our full potential. I have prayed with many women who are chained by fears of various sorts which prevent them from living the healthy and happy lives they were meant to live. I am always so thrilled when those chains fall off and the enemy is defeated!
There are a thousand reasons for us to fear the tumultuous times in which we live. But there are exactly 365 verses in Scripture instructing us to “fear not”. . . that’s one for each day of the year. One of my favorites is found in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
There are exactly 365 verses in Scripture instructing us to “fear not”. . . that’s one for each day of the year.
I am so grateful for the confidence and the clarity Our God gives us to boldly go forth into our world, to meet life’s challenges head on and at the end of the day to lie down in sweet peace knowing we can trust in HIM.
Moses, the leader of the Israelites, spoke these timeless words to them as he was transferring leadership of the nation to his successor, Joshua, before they entered a new land. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Those words are meant for you and me as well. Step foot into new territory. Leave fear behind. It’s a traveling partner you don’t need on this journey of life.