May 22, 2016

Gripped By Fear?

I've had my own issues with anxiety and fear. I grew up afraid of many things -- nightmares and the dark, sleeping on my side on my ear (I was afraid I'd hear my heart quit beating and you know what that means),  heights and falling, the end times, stinging insects and parasites, bullies and strangers, school tests and failure, medical needles (i.e. shots), snakes,  highway bridges, and so forth. Some of those things seem silly now, but as a young girl  I struggled for many years trying not to be afraid, but it wasn't until Dr. Ketterman, thankfully, prescribed a visit to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in glands and their secretions, that I understood some of the reasons for my anxiety and fear -- I had a hormonal imbalance. I'm currently on hormonal replacement therapy and don't experience the gut-wrenching panic attacks that I had then during my feminine cycle.
 
I was thinking about how technology has played a role in my fear and remembered the first time my parents refused to allow me to crawl into bed with them after watching a television movie -- "The Hound of the Baskervilles." I was so afraid that I didn't mind sleeping on the rug next to their bed just so I would be under the umbrella of their protection from the monster hound.
 
When I was little, just after we moved into the our new home, a house this time, we were given strict instructions not to go down to the next street where there were only holes in the ground where basements were being poured. We didn't have fences yet and as the eldest, I was responsible to make sure my younger sister minded the rules, but mind she didn't. In fact, rather headstrong, she argued with me about what our parents had said and proceeded to go anyway -- "just to look." I shudder to think that if I hadn't followed her to the basement shell that day what might have happened to her, as she, in looking over the concrete wall through the window well, toppled in. It had rained the previous week and the basement held the water like a pool which was over her head. I didn't have the strength to pull my wet sister out, so placing her hands on the ledge of the window, I told her to not let go and ran for dad as fast as I could, yelling for him all the way. After that, my father was instrumental in getting all the neighbors to fence in their backyards for the protection of us young children.
 
After we were older, my mother said that she didn't give a thought about allowing us to free-range the neighborhood to play with the other kids.  We had rules of course, that we were to abide by and the other stay-at-home moms watched over all the other children playing with their children, making us mind when we were up to mischief, such as the time a neighbor caught me red-handed throwing down glass bottles on the road to watch them break. She marched right out of her house with a broom and dust-pan and watched until I swept up every bit of glass from the road. Never did that again and my mother reminded me that we always have someone watching all that we do, meaning Jesus, but it didn't hurt her cause to insinuate that she had her spies in the neighborhood too! grin!

I've always wondered how others conquered their fear. I read about the early persecuted Christians who began to scratch a fish symbol (it meant Christos) in the dirt when meeting a new person. Friends, recognizing the question, would finish it and if the person didn't recognize it, then the Christians knew to be careful as they never knew who would betray them to the authorities.

When we'd go visit my grandparents while on holiday from school, my paternal grandmother who had a heart for missions, filled her bookcase with books about missionaries that I loved to read. I remember reading a story about one of them praying for protection and later, the natives, after salvation, were asked, when they learned that they were going to attack the missionary and rob them, why they ran away. They said it was because they were afraid of the strong armed men they saw surrounding the missionaries on their knees. I remember reading about Corrie ten Boom helping a few Jews hide from the Germans, knowing if they were ever caught, it might mean death, but they did it anyway. I read about Elizabeth Elliot who went to the same tribe of South American Indians who had killed her husband and his friends, and Brother Andrew Womack who secretly carried Bibles into closed countries. It was a puzzle to me how they conquered their fear of the consequences if they were ever caught.

I was puzzling over that very thing today and it seems to me that many people may be gripped by fear so paralyzing it keeps them from reaching out to others. That seems to me a self-imposed prison.  The news media tends to inflate and exaggerate the awful things people do, so that we, like the persecuted Christians, don't know whom we can trust. Under the guise of "protection," our freedoms are eroding right under our nose because a vicious cycle of fear distracts us and keeps us in our place. And who is the author of fear? You guessed it! The devil. He delights in it.

Getting the hormone replacement therapy has helped a lot with some of my panicky fear, but praying and reading scripture has also. I have  placed dots next to scripture references in my concordance that has meant a lot to me.  For instance:
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"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you, wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9
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"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." ~ Psalm 23:4,5a
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"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." ~ Psalm 34:4
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"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up." ~ Proverb 12:25
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"Fear of man will  prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." ~ Proverbs 29:25
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"The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: 'Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it." ~ Isaiah 8:11-12.
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"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart! I have overcome the world." ~ John 16: 33
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"the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace. . . for you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship [in my case, I'm an adopted daughter, a Princess of the Heavenly King]." ~ Romans 8:6, 15 
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" in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." ~ Romans 8: 32-39
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"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:6-7.
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"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
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 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." ~ Hebrews 10:35-39.
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"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. . ." ~ Hebrews 12:2
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"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." ~ 1 Peter 5:7
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"There is no fear in love. But perfect love [Jesus] drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.[yet]" ~ 1 John 4:18.

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"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28).