“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
- Nelson Mandela
This week I had a night with three nightmares/dreams. I’m not sure which. You see, they all started out as nightmares - with people stealing all our things or entering our house by force, but every time they did I confronted them and starting telling them about their need for Jesus. Even when in one dream where I came home and everything in my house was gone, we found the culprits to share with them about Jesus. They all ended peacefully.
I wish those fears were not a possible reality, but the truth is, I have had to face armed thieves emptying our car of their electrics. And we do hear of stories of people coming home here and EVERYTHING in their house emptied out. It may not be very often, but it happens. And I know very few missionaries here who have not had something stolen from their car, homes or person.
But living in that reality means you have to face up to the fact that it might just happen to you. Again. And that doesn’t mean that God is not the Protector.
I grew up believing that faith for protection was believing that I would never face anything fearful. But now when I read Psalm 91
I realise God’s protection actually looks more like sure deliverance.
I am continually learning to look at those fears straight in the face.
When I feel scared I am realising that that does not need to be debilitating, and that I am not weak - I am human.
(I checked with my seemingly fearless husband - he described feelings of being ‘nervous’ rather than fear, but that is probably just because he is well trained in being courageous!) We all fear things. We all have paralyzing waves hit us at times, or wobbly-stomached nervousness.
But the difference comes when we decide to face those things head on.
I may fear another mother’s response if I go to her and apologise for my child’s behaviour.
I may fear my teammate’s response if I go to him and apologise for my snide remark.
I may fear going to the bathroom in the night in case I hear noises I don’t want to. (Okay, so I am still not doing well on this fear because that was how I found the thieves emptying out the car, but pray I will!)
I may fear sharing my heart with my husband unless he is showing me he is in the mood to listen.
I may fear allowing others to look after my children for an afternoon so I can spend an afternoon with Mark.
But when I do choose to be brave, in spite of my fears, I find a connection that happens with others and with God. And that is always worth it.
And I know too, that so often
fear is a signpost to oncoming deliverance because it is the enemy’s tactic to try and stop us from entering our promised land
, because he knows his time is potentially short. Sometimes, as the priest was called to remind Israel before every battle, we just need a little reminder:
When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He (shall say: ‘Hear, Israel: today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be faint-hearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’
- Deut 20:2-4