Faith Friday: When Fear is a Stump That Needs to be Removed

We’ve headed into an interesting month ahead that some call self-isolation or lockdown but I would like to call Homesteading Time! It didn’t start out quite the nice family time I was hoping for though. The Little Fulla was already sick, with a cough nonetheless, I was worn out from a busy season, lack of sleep and trying to prepare for what we needed as we suddenly had two days before the lockdown of our country commenced, my respiratory system had tightened up and The Husband was still working. His line of work is in the ‘essential services’ category, which means he still has to work ‘out there’ to some extent. We aren’t all cosy in a safe bubble.

It’s easy for people to say, “Don’t be afraid.” And I was one of those people, until I had an episode of fear and anxiety. If you have fear that gets bigger than a passing thought that you can turn around, if it starts to drive how you think and act; you can’t just brush it aside, you need to deal with it. For sure, it’s an attack from the devil to try and take you out, but you need to deal with it. That starts with digging.

I’m going to talk about God here. You don’t have to agree with everything I say and I won’t be offended by anyone who doesn’t want to read this. If you want to stick to reading the more general homesteading stuff, that’s surely ok. But if I can help even one person to deal with something that’s hurting them by sharing my story and my journey with God, then that is really cool. God is inextricably connected to everything I do, a part of who I am. Gardening is also inextricably linked to everything I do, so it features here as well, largely in the form of a camellia stump. And you all should know, or you soon will, how much I loathe camellia stumps…

Digging

The “I think there’s something bad lurking in my garden” phase.

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You need to sit down and ask yourself deep questions to get to the root of the problem. Why am I afraid? But why? What things have I been saying to myself? How does God figure into all of this? But why? In all likelihood, there will be two roots to the problem: one to do with your beliefs about yourself and one to do with your beliefs about God; accusations about why you’re not good enough or what’s wrong with God. They may seem like separate issues but they’re connected to the same problem. The enemy starts with one then sneakily brings in the other and binds them together into a trunk of fear that will keep growing if you merely try to push it aside. You’ve gotta dig down by asking questions until you’ve uncovered enough dirt to discover those roots.

Acknowledging

The “Ok, I have a camellia stump that needs to be removed” phase.

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Next, it’s time to acknowledge that you have a problem. Yes, this means admitting that you have a weakness. That’s hard, but there’s no shame in having a weakness – we all have them, but those of us who are more aware of our weaknesses are much better at overcoming them. The way I choose to look at it, you’re a fighter if you deal with that obstacle quickly and boldly instead of running away from it (ignoring it) or trying to scramble around it with a blindfold on.

In my case, this was the hardest phase. I’d been doing pretty well until all of a sudden, I wasn’t. It was really hard for me to admit to myself that I had let fear get the better of me. Yes, I had a small child coughing all over the place, yes, I was worn out and having some physical issues and yes, my husband was not home to help me or be avoiding the sickness of the outside world with me, but I’ve dealt with hard stuff before, so what were the roots of my problem?

1) A belief about myself: since I started thinking of myself as one of the ‘vulnerable’ ones because of my respiratory issues, I had started to believe that my body wouldn’t be able to cope with this sickness if it got to me. I thought, “If that sickness comes into my house, I’m probably gonna die.” That’s horrible! Now, I am not afraid of death itself, as I know exactly where I’m headed – to my Father’s house – but I was afraid of the pain and suffering of a nasty illness. Afraid of the unknown. That is no way to live, and you can see how it would breed some intense fear.

2) A belief about God: I had started to believe that God wouldn’t save me from this sickness, because so many people had been affected by it already. That was the hardest thing of all to admit. I usually have a pretty strong faith, so I felt like I was letting God down, and even more, at a time when I wanted to be strong because there are so many others who needed help. But you know what? As soon as I admitted it and asked God to forgive me, I started to feel relief. And love. God’s love for me doesn’t change if my faith hits a stumbling block. So many ‘faithful servants’ in the Bible had moments of faltering faith. But they dealt with it, carried on and did mighty things for God.

Talking About it

The “Guys, I have a camellia stump I need to dig out, can you help me?” phase.

Oh no, now it’s time to talk about your fear and its roots to somebody. Can’t I just deal with it myself? No. Because bringing your weakness into the light is precisely what makes it lose its power over you. The devil will whisper lies about this like there’s no tomorrow, trying to make you feel like people will look down on you if you share your weaknesses. Maybe the odd person will, but not the ones who really care about you. Does it matter if everyone finds out that you’re not perfect? Um, no. Because – newsflash – none of us are! You don’t have to proclaim all your weaknesses to the whole world, just to at least one person or small group of people that love you and that you can trust. You are not alone. You don’t have to deal with anything alone.

Here’s what Paul, one of the greatest preachers of the Good News in the Bible, reformed sentencer-to-imprisonment of Christians, had to say about his own weakness, which, you’ll note, he doesn’t specifically explain to the whole world:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:7‭-‬10

If we had everything sorted, did everything right, what would we need God for? He uses us humans with all our weaknesses and problems to accomplish his plans. Because he wants to include us. We are his children. In contrast, the devil wants us to be useless. His goal is to destroy us and make us destroy others. He cannot destroy God, so he comes after God’s special creations. Remember that.

Praying

The “God, help me destroy this camellia stump!” phase.

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All the above things are very helpful, but if you really want to get rid of that big sucker of fear or any other stumbling block you’re facing, you need God’s help. We are not strong enough to handle the attacks of the enemy on our own. We may be able to chop out little roots on our own and with the support of others, but the tree will keep growing more roots over time if we don’t fight it fully. We need God to bring in the explosives and blow that stump out of the ground! He’s powerful, more powerful than anything or anyone, including the entire enemy camp. He is not afraid of anything.

even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” – Psalms 139:12

But what’s even better, is that God lets us help blow stuff up. How? Firstly, God loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for ALL of our sins, thereby defeating Satan’s power over us and giving us authority when we speak in Jesus’ name. We can command that fear to get out of us and ask God to forgive us, heal us and teach us to trust him. And to believe in ourselves.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” – Colossians 1:13

Secondly, God gives us the Holy Spirit when we accept him as boss of our lives, and the Holy Spirit fights for us and speaks into our minds God’s wisdom, his peace and his will, if only we will stop and pray. Praying is just talking to God.

God’s love for us is perfect. He loves us despite our weaknesses and despite our sins, even though he knows we’ll stuff up again and again. We can’t even fully understand the perfect nature of God’s love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” – 1 John 4:18

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord , “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” – Psalms 91:1‭-‬4

Filling, Weeding & Sowing

The “Now I have a big hole I need to fill in, re-plant and keep well-weeded” phase.

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If you have dealt to a tree or stump of fear in your life, huzzah! That is something to celebrate. But it isn’t time to let your guard down. The longer we let a tree of fear grow, the bigger its roots get, so the bigger the hole left behind will be. We need to fill that hole with something good, something God. We can ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill that hole with himself. Don’t leave a bare hole vulnerable to attack.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

The enemy will try to use and abuse our weaknesses again. We don’t need to be scared of him, but we need to be aware of that fact that he will attack again in the future and to think about how he might attack. Know thy enemy. Stop thy enemy in his tracks. So, what next? Two things: we need to keep weeding out the bad weeds that pop up in our mind and actions and sow some good seeds to re-cover the ground. To weed, here, means to recognise unhealthy, sinful and damaging weeds, like fears that start growing, accusations against our character or God’s character and negative thoughts or emotions that start to get out of control. We can tell them to get out. We can and should tell the enemy to get out. Take to those weeds with a spade! Don’t get angry at yourself or the people around you, get angry at the real enemy.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

At the same time, we can sow seeds of good, healthy things. Read the Bible, ask God what he wants us to do every day, practice what he teaches, learn about the fruits of the Spirit, pray all the time, listen to worship music (some of my favourites are Casting Crowns, Planet Shakers and Elevation Worship), build accountability with others to support each other, speak blessings not curses, speak positively of yourself and others, be thankful for everything you can think of. These are good seeds that will grow into good plants that will grow good fruit in your life and the lives of those around you.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it…” – Psalms 52:8-9

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I chose to deal with these fears, acknowledging them, praying about them and changing the way I think. For, as much as the devil would try to sink me with fear, at heart I am a fighter. And I will NOT live in fear. I choose hope. We’ve got this. God’s got this.

If your fear is bigger than all of this, please don’t hesitate to contact your health professional or pastoral care team. I know anxiety can be a bigger issue than this.

Last of all, I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be free of fear.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

 

All Bible verses are from the ESV (English Standard Version), 2016.


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