"Removing Roots of Fear"
by Kathy Pelton
 

"Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." Psalm 27:3

I am always amazed at God's dealings with me. I never cease to be surprised at how He can take me places that I would not go apart from His love and leading. God's recent dealings with me began with personal crisis. Like many of you, our family has been hit hard by the trouble in the economy. My husband's sales have dried up, my oldest son was laid off from his construction job last month and I lost my salary at the beginning of January. But, as "mature Christians" our posture was in faith and not fear...or, so I thought.

We handled the first months of our "crisis" as we watched God provide in ways that were unexpected and unique. But as the months have moved by and our bank account has dwindled to nothing (and no prospects for jobs appeared), I began to move into some fear-based actions even though my words continued to be those of faith. Of course, I did not do this overtly, but took a "composed" posture of fear. I began to ever-so-gently pressure my patient husband to get his resume' out to more and more companies. From there I began to drop subtle hints of things that he could do (and in my opinion should do) to get us out of this crisis.

Your Fear Is Not Subtle to God

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to my husband making us a nice breakfast. But rather than allowing myself to enjoy the blessing, I sat down at the table and began to question him about what he had accomplished during the week in regards to my rescue plan. But rather than give me a detailed accounting, my husband looked at me and said, "Maybe we shouldn't talk because we don't seem to be getting along very well right now."

I was shocked! How could he say such a thing? Wasn't I merely asking about a very real issue? I was merely trying to help my family make responsible decisions in the midst of crisis, right?

Right away the Lord began to speak to me about the motivations of my heart in trying to get my husband to do all the things I had suggested (actually, I wanted to demand, not suggest). The Lord asked me if my suggestions were from His leading or from fear. Well, of course they were from fear, or I wouldn't have needed to cloak them in hints. The Lord then said, "Your hints have not been subtle to your husband or to Me. We both know that you have moved into fear."

I had abandoned two values that my husband and I walk in. The first is that we will never initiate for God, but always wait for His initiation before we act. We wait not only for His wisdom but also His timing. The second value is to know each other by the spirit, not only by the flesh. Spirit to spirit is the way we want to connect with others. Due to the fear that had surfaced in my life, I began to initiate out of my knowledge and timetable rather than waiting for God's wisdom and timing.

I also forgot that my husband knows me "by the Spirit," therefore he could feel the fear and control coming from me even though my words sounded right. These subtle hints I was releasing were like the sounding of an alarm to both my husband and God. They screamed: "Do something just in case Jesus doesn't come through for us!"

Learning from My Writings

The irony in all of this is the title of my article last month called "Peace Be Still." I wrote all about peace and trust in the midst of life's storms. One thing that has been consistent in whatever subject I write or teach about is that I must also learn from them. Releasing it does not exempt me from the truth that needs to be lived out. I often find whenever I write, I am about to be tested on, so that it also becomes truth in my life.

As I realized there were still roots of fear deep in my heart, that dictated to me thoughts of abandonment during difficult times, I knew I needed to allow God to deal with them. As I asked the Lord what to do, His first instruction was to fast (abstain) from any actions that were fear-based. This was in all relationships: husband, children, friends and especially, Him. Having five teenagers who are all embarking on adulthood can really challenge this.

I could now see that even some of my "counsel" for my teens was more fear-based rather than faith-based, and I needed to begin to speak only God's counsel. I needed to turn my children over to the One who loves them even more than I do. I cannot always keep them from the hard lessons of life, but sometimes I need to take a posture of prayer that would back them up rather than try to lead them.

I have never viewed myself as a controlling person, but as the root of my actions have become clear to me, I now realize that fear almost always provokes controlling and manipulative actions. Though these may be "subtle" to others, they are not to God, nor are they to the enemy who is not fooled by our religious masks that try to cover them up.

Remember...Don't Light Your Own Torches!

"But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment." Isaiah 50:11

Ten years ago, I was going through another difficult time. During that time God was walking me through some deep inner-healing from issues in my childhood that were affecting my adult life. As some of the pain and wounds surfaced, I would attempt to find relief from the pain by trying to find my way through it on my own. Though I never made any headway in this effort, it did leave me with a bad case of insomnia that lasted for months.

During one of these sleepless nights, I was searching the Scriptures for some comfort, when I stumbled across the verse in Isaiah 50:11. I immediately realized this was what I had been doing. I was lighting my own torch and trying to find my way apart from His light. As a result, I had lain down each night in torment.

As I repented, things began to improve. Though they didn't change overnight, I began a process of allowing the light of the Lord to lead me through the darkness that I was facing. Now a decade later, though this is a very different circumstance, I am once again facing this truth. I cannot go back to walking in the light of my own torch, but I must wait for the Lord to lead our family through this dark time. Once again I find myself repenting for leaning on my own understanding.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

"Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son He delights in." Proverbs 3:5-12

He is Forever Faithful

I have settled it: "I don't understand God's ways!" I have also decided that "God is forever faithful, even when I don't understand!" When He says that He carries me (and you), it is the truth.

"There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place." Deuteronomy 1:31

"He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11

He is our Father, He is tender, He is gentle, and He does not leave us without help. His children are being prepared to walk without roots of fear ruling in their hearts and lives. We must respond to His loveóboth the love that carries us and the love that corrects us. Join me in fasting from every action that is based in fear. Let us allow Him to pull up every root of fear that ushers us into controlling, manipulative and frantic behaviors. He truly is our peace and we must trust Him even when we don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. Don't light your own torch even when all you see is darkness. It is not dark to Him.

"If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:11-12

We're in this together!