When I had my first child, an unexpected emotion accompanied my unbelievable joy and happiness — sheer terror! The same woman who chased tornadoes (Confession: I almost got arrested one time for that) and flew the most elite attack helicopter in the world in Iraq, turned into a big sissy! I just had this gut feeling God was waiting to rip my family away from me in order to use my story for His glory.
What a weird concept.
I love God so much and know my ultimate response to any hardship would have to be complete and utter surrender; however, I fight the idea of anything rocking my world with such anticipated horror and finality!
The terror that God would ask me to sacrifice my son paralyzed my heart. I almost couldn’t function. I was constantly checking on my newborn to make sure he was still breathing, praying to protect him from things that might harm him, and worrying over every single problem that could affect him. I researched everything about newborns on the internet, and the doctor was the recipient of many concerned and unfounded phone calls. I desperately tried to ensure the survival of my baby boy.
Now, I am not saying that isn’t normal. To a certain extent, I believe developing a protective nature is part of God’s design for parents and mothers — especially with the firstborn. But for me, the level of terror I felt scared me. It made me realize I was still struggling against the same thing that had gripped my mother — fear.
Dealing With Fear
My mom’s whole life had been consumed by fear, and she never found a way to let it go. It caused her to live in a self-constructed prison cell — her bed. She had to numb herself to her anxiety with medication to the point of dysfunction.
I did not want to live in that same prison. I knew I had to get a grip on my fear. Moreover, I knew I had to let God get a grip for me! I clung to God’s Word; I turned to His promises, and I begged Him to give me the strength to release my worries on Him alone.
While the feeling was unexpected, I was not exactly a stranger to the idea of dealing with fear.
In preparation for my deployment to Iraq, I struggled with the concept of my own mortality. I knew that as an Apache helicopter pilot, I would be going up against an often-times unseen and hard-to-fight enemy in a very high-valued target for insurgents. I had to deal with the fact that there was a possibility I would not come home. It wasn’t like I could even hide from that idea either — days of training were committed to preparing us for the reality of war. I was forced to confront my fears of death.
More than that, I was forced to confront the fears my mother had for me. I knew I had to prepare her, as well, for the possibility harm might come my way. I did not want her to be faint of heart, caught off-guard or devastated beyond hope if something were to happen to me.
I had to come face to face with God and needed to decide the following: Did I believe He was real? Did I believe He was good and faithful? Was it worth my life to trust in His sovereignty?
I turned to Scripture, my story and my experiences with Him. My mind began to slightly comprehend what it means to have an eternal perspective — to know that He is real, He is sovereign and no matter what He chooses to do in my life, He is SO very good and worthy of my trust. Not to mention the little tidbit that it was all out of my control anyway.
I was left to ask myself how I would praise God in this situation. Would I cling to my life and lose it, or would I give my life and find freedom?
Knowing Without a Doubt
Living in fear robs us of actually living. Fear fosters unbelief in who God is. This unbelief happens when we place our own physical well-being, our children, our family, or anything else we value in this world on the thrones of our hearts above God. They become what we live for, our idols, and they cloud our perspective of the mission He has commanded of us — bringing Him and His kingdom glory.
If we truly believe in His promises, we will rest assured that He is in control. Nothing will happen to us without His authority allowing it to happen. Trials and suffering will come, but He will give us the strength to face them in those moments — and in Him alone. There is no use worrying about what will happen ahead of time because it will not change the story God has for our lives.
Ultimately, our joy should be found in knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this world is not all there is. We get scared because this world is all we know, so we fear the unknown. But the reality is we have such a great purpose and so much more to look forward to in the realm of eternity with Jesus. We need to operate in the eternal perspective and teach our kids to do the same.
Don’t get me wrong; there are still moments when I am overwhelmed with fear about storms, car accidents or evil destroying our family. (When my husband is away, I do sleep with my Glock by my bedside.) But when I get overwhelmed by my desire to protect our lives and keep any harm from interfering with my family’s existence, my first response is to simply ask God, “Hey, can you please take this from me, Lord? I really cannot deal with this. I want to trust You, and I want to enjoy every day you give us. Will you please help me do it?”
I literally envision myself laying it at His feet, and it works for me. I make the choice to surrender to the great God of the universe in the ironic truth of knowing that I just don’t have to have it figured out.
If you struggle with fear, all the time or some of the time, I hope you find a way to surrender your worry, need for control, life and burdens, and take up His yoke. He has the whole universe in His eternally safe hands.
Why doubt He takes care of us and those we love?