Cultivating courage | Facing your fears
Breaking the ‘perfection’ mould
Ever had one of those weeks where you think, this couldn’t possibly get any worse, then the week after it does, on an unprecedented scale? Over the last four weeks, I have been really aware that fear and anxiety have steadily been trying to creep into my life through situations, circumstances and traumas. Sometimes it has been disguised as a serpent, slowly poisoning me with doubt and unbelief and other times it has been like a ferocious prowling lion, paralysing me right were I stand.
In my life BC, I struggled with depression, self harm and severe anxiety attacks for a long, long time. I used to battle with suicidal thoughts and attempted to kill myself several times which led to hospitalisation. Fear and anxiety dominated my life. They were the very foundation that my identity was built on. When Jesus first stepped into my life, He kissed all that fear away with pure, undiluted love and for the first time since my childhood I could breathe without the weight of anxiety sitting on my chest. Since coming to faith, anxiety has not been something I have battled with, that is until four weeks ago.
I think there’s this myth in the Christian community that we have to have our lives together to show the world how perfect Jesus is. “You’re a Christian, you cant be anxious – perfect love casts out fear!” or “You’re depressed? How can you be depressed and be a Christian?” Can I be honest with you right now? I have fell apart so many times this year and mostly, it’s because I have been afraid. Sometimes it has been fear of failure, fear of letting God down, fear of letting people down, of not preaching well, not saying or doing the right thing, not being good enough, am even hearing from God or the big one that cripples me every single time, is fear of financial ruin!
Over the last week, we had a very real situation in which fear literally walked in our home that unnerved me and pushed me into a place I haven’t visited in many, many years. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel safe, and that anxiety that used to be my home, started pressing down on me once again. It was in this place, that God started talking to me about the power of cultivating courage.
What is fear?
Ever since I was little, every time I have been afraid my Mum has always said “feel the fear and do it anyway” or “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than the fear you are facing.” She also uses the acronym; False Evidence Appearing Real. I have grown up with these simple truths in my life. You see sometimes these are applicable, and other times they are not.
Sometimes fear can disguise itself as a ‘What if…’ situation. ‘What if i’m not good enough?’ ‘What if my business fails?’ ‘What if it doesn’t work out,’ ‘What if my illness comes back again,’ or ‘What if i’m alone forever?’ The purpose of the ‘what if’ fears, is to make the fear that you are feeling bigger than the reality of what you’re facing. In these cases, fear can present itself as a mountain when in reality its just a little mole making a hill!
Other times, fear can be a very real presence in our lives and comes as a natural response to physical danger. It can literally come and knock on the door of our hearts and if we allow it in, will cause a block in the channels of Gods love into every area of our mind, will and emotions. As that fear begins to seep into our hearts, we start to behave differently. We instinctively build defensive walls with the intention of protecting ourselves and keeping safe, except what really happens is that we end up isolating ourselves and keep God locked outside. When we do this, we create a perfect breeding ground for fear to multiply and poison every area of our life that God has made to be good.
The origin of all fear.
In order to overcome fear we have to identify with two things. 1. God is love. 2. Fear is not from God. Over the last five years of walking with Jesus, I have noticed two distinct lies that seem to grip the children of God from moving forward into their destiny and overcoming their fears.
1. The devil does not exist.
When I first came to faith, I had a radical encounter with Jesus so could not in any way deny His existence. However, coming to terms with the fact that there really is a hell, demonic powers and that there really was a fallen angel called lucifer who is unleashing fury on earth and is the source of evil in this world was so unbelievable to me! In fact, I thought it was totally bonkers! I mean, I was cool with Jesus, Heaven and His angels, but Satan and his minions? Nah, that seemed like a load of nonsense…
Then I started reading the Bible and as I began applying what it said into my life and I stood for Heaven, Hell started to rise! You see, that is the reality of being a Christian, and excuse the bluntness here, but if you aren’t seeing traits of hell edging in and around your path, then you need to ask yourself, are you on the right path at all?
If we do not acknowledge that hell is a real place and then we have no need of a saviour, neither does the world around us. So we are happy to just sit in church week after week and hear epic stories from the Bible and say we are Christian but are asleep to the reality of the grave danger that the people around us are in and the path that mankind is taking towards destruction. If you truly believe the gospel, I mean seriously, if you truly believe the Gospel, then you won’t be afraid to speak out to that person you love about Jesus. We cannot judge peoples right to salvation by simply saying ‘they wouldn’t be interested,’ last time I checked, weeping and gnashing of teeth is not something I would want anyone to sign up too for a moment let alone eternity. Jesus spoke more about the reality of hell in the gospels than He did about Heaven!
The purpose of this lie is to keep you blissfully unaware of the spiritual battle that is happening all around you and to keep you from stepping into your God given authority as a co-heir of Christ. If the enemy can keep you in denial of his existence, then you are no threat whatsoever to his kingdom. The moment you realise who you are and what you carry within you, and you being to walk in the power of your transformed life, then just by your very existence you threaten lucifers reign.
2. God does not speak to us.
We know the Bible tells us that satan is the father of lies, so everything he does is the opposite of Gods nature. The very first time we see satan in the Bible, we see him coming into the garden of Eden to undermine the character of God to His children. ‘But did God really say…’ The more I travel about and pray/speak with people, the more I realise that the enemy is attempting to cut the communication line to the Father heart of God with the lie of ‘did God really say that? Why would He want to talk to you? You’re a nobody, you’re a mess! You need to get yourself together first before God can speak to you!’
Out of all the lies we believe, I think this is the most dangerous. I once heard TD Jakes say ‘We are speaking spirits in a fleshly body.’ You see, before God formed you in your Mothers womb, He knew you. (Jeremiah 1:4). Wow, what does that mean? Before you were even alive here on earth, you had a relationship with your Heavenly Father, spirit to spirit. To ‘know somebody’ usually involves communication! You can’t know a stranger!
God speaks to us all the time! In fact, I think God speaks to us constantly but our interpretation of how God speaks to us is wrong. We confine our ‘inner ear’ when we start to define how it is that we think God should be talking to us based on our understanding on how He is speaking to those around us. The danger of doing this is that we then begin to think that there’s something wrong with us when we think that God isn’t talking to us because we are expecting Him to communicate with us one way and then it doesn’t happen. We need to learn how to attune to the frequency that has been set apart for us. I think its really important to highlight that not everyone is hearing an audible voice from God every time they start sharing about what God is saying to them. God speaks in many different languages, not just english. God speaks to us in a language we understand usually through our passions and desires. God often speaks to me through music, poetry, nature, scents, gardening, creativity, visions, dreams etc.
If the enemy, the father of lies can get you to believe that your Heavenly Father does not speak to you then you’ve got a BIG problem! I mean, you’re not going to speak to someone who you think isn’t going to speak to you! If you don’t believe that God is a speaking God then you aren’t going to pursue a deep and meaningful prayer life and if you don’t establish a prayer life then you are no threat whatsoever to the enemies territory! See the pattern here?
Advance. Do not retreat.
Sometimes fear can literally ambush you. It can blindside you out of nowhere and knock you off your feet. Just because you are a Christian, does not mean you won’t face fear in your life. The strongest Christians I know will at some point or another have a bare knuckled fight with fear in areas of their life during trials and tribulations. During the week I spoke with my Pastor who used the analogy of a battery to explain what I was walking through. He said, ‘you cant have a positive without a negative. You must have both a positive and a negative to connect the power source.’ To think that we won’t go through scary situations or endure trials is ludicrous and nothing sort of Christian la la land.
BUT!! We have a choice!! We can come into agreement with that fear and allow it to come into our souls and alter how we see Papa God or we can submit to God, resist the devil and watch him flee! Sometimes it’s not that easy and I get that! Sometimes it is a continual submission, sometimes it is an act of faith! What I have learnt this last few weeks is that when you are on a battlefield, and the enemy seems like he’s got the upper hand, thats exactly the time to advance into his territory and plunder his land of its riches. The enemy will only seek to come in and occupy land of great value! Wow… I wonder how precious and valuable you are?!
You see, we are fighting a defeated foe! No seriously, I don’t know what Bible you are reading but my Bible tells me that Jesus went into hell and said “I died, but see, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of [absolute control and victory over] death and of Hades (the realm of the dead),” Revelation 1:18 AMP. Jesus also said to us in Luke 10:19-20, “Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.”
Wake o wake o sleeper
Fear is the most common way the enemy will attack you. If he can get you paralysed in fear, then its going to block out the love of God and immobilise you as a Christian. The power of Heaven is displayed through the Love of God. It is through the Love of God that the Gospel is displayed to creation and we are the vessels of Heaven on earth.
This week, I was genuinely afraid but I made a conscious decision to advance in the very area the enemy was using that fear to try and immobilise me and the Holy spirit cultivated the fruit of courage on the vine of my heart. Advancing across the enemy line when your heart is shaking takes every ounce of courage you have, but greater is He that is within you that He who is in the world. When you come to the Lord in that weakness, confess of the fear trying to penetrate your heart and ask Him to strengthen you, He will.
I read somewhere once, that the Bible tells us to ‘fear not’ in several different ways over 300 times!! I think that when we come into agreement with that fear it undermines the perfect character of our Father in Heaven, that we aren’t trusting Him in that particular area that we are fearful about. For example, this week I was scared and fearful for my safety and had to continually surrender that fear to God that because the truth was that He is and always will be my protector and my covering!
For some of us, living in fear of man has frozen us in apathy and lukewarm Christianity, others have fallen asleep because they have an altered view of Papa God and are not connected to the voice of Heaven. Maybe today, reading this blog has been a bit of a punch in the gut for you and you know what? That can only be a good thing! That just means that there is some room in there for some light to shine and awaken areas of your heart that have grown cold and dark. “Light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14 NLT.
This far and no further
If this blog has in any way spoke to you, I want you to place your hand on your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to come and clear out all the channels that have become blocked with fear, anxiety and worry.
If you are believing that God doesn’t speak to you, then I want you to repent of believing that lie and declare the truth that God is a loving Father who wants full custody of His children at all times and is interested in every area of your life and ask the Holy Spirit to awaken your eyes and ears to see His hand and hear His voice guiding your steps on your path.
God did not create you to be held in fear. It’s okay to be afraid but it is not okay to stay there. Ask Him to help you take down the walls of your defences and bring His light into the shadows. Draw a line in your heart today and say ‘This far and no further, I repent of allowing fear to overrule your love in my life Lord. I receive your peace which surpasses all my understanding, in Jesus name, Amen’
Listen to the truth in the lyrics of this song and surrender your fears!