Finding Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner
- Monday, April 27, 2009
Have you ever felt your life spinning out of control, and you did not know if you would survive another day? Like all you had in this world was ripped away? Have you experienced a physical or emotional pain so deep that nothing could numb the hurt?
On June 7, 1986, one week after my college graduation, an unknown armed assailant broke into my apartment, held me captive, stripped me bare, stole my perfect life, and walked away never to be seen again. My heart grew cold. I put a wall around myself, not letting anyone or anything penetrate it. I lived for years cocooned in a prison of fear, despair, and hopelessness.
I searched desperately for answers but found none. Though surrounded by people, I felt alone. I vividly remember one desperate night sitting on my bathroom floor, cradling a Bible in my arms, and crying out to God: If this Book is true, if You love me, if You want the best for me, if You have a plan and purpose for my life, then You have got to show me. Because right now, I can’t trust You, and I don’t believe in You.
From that helpless place, something new began. God taught me that His incredible story book, The Bible, is not merely a compilation of interesting stories. It is alive, written by His chosen ones to speak to us today. Little by little, God spoke powerful truths into my life. And though many of these truths answered my questions and healed my hurts, I still lived with the practical realities of being afraid.
My battle with fear reached unmatched intensity when we moved from Dallas, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina. It thrust me into unfamiliar surroundings and plunged me into a place of extreme vulnerability. Once again, God had His Hand upon me. I joined my first Bible study. We studied the topic of strongholds. A word with which I was unfamiliar. Our teacher defined a “stronghold” as any deeply rooted sin in your life that prevents you from growing in your relationship with God. She listed specific strongholds like bitterness, anger, pride, addiction, and fear. Fear? When she said the word, a shiver ran down my spine. Fear. I was afraid. In fact, fear controlled my life. Could this be my stronghold?
As our lesson continued, I knew God had brought me to this study to bring me face to face with my fear. We learned about spiritual warfare. She explained that there is an invisible spiritual conflict waging around us, a battle between the forces of good and evil, and we are all in this battle. I am in this battle. She also taught us that we had powerful weapons with which to fight this battle and one was the “Sword of the Spirit” - God’s Word.
After Bible study that day, I put my son down for a nap. I was so tired of being afraid. I had lived with my fear for over a decade, and I knew now it was keeping me from a deeper, richer walk with God. Tears poured down my cheeks, and I prayed, but this time instead of asking God to take away my fear, I asked Him to help me overcome my fear. Taking away my fear meant asking God to do the work for me. I knew God was calling me to be an active participant in the work He was about to do in my life.
I eagerly dug into His Word for the answers I longed to hear. Over the next months, God took me to a powerful Truth about fear: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7) The Bible is unequivocal, the minute I received Christ as my Savior, God sealed me with His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God lives inside of me, and in Him there is no fear!
I sharpened my Sword as I searched God’s Word for more verses on fear. This verse leapt off the page: “He will shield you with His wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. Now you do not need to be afraid of the dark any more, nor fear the dangers of the day; nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.” (Psalm 91:4-6, Living Bible). I feared the dark. At night, nightmares flooded my mind. I awakened terrified, fully expecting to see the masked man standing over me. I feared the day. Should I get in the elevator with that man? Should I park that far away in the parking lot? Can I let the cable man in? I was fearful 24 hours a day.
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