Some things we go through stay with us through the years, even if they seemed negative at the time. For when we allow the Lord to work in situations, he can turn anything, even ashes, into something beautiful.
Having a fenced yard with a German Shepherd watchdog made me feel safe. So safe that I thought, “This Big Apple will be a piece of cake. I can handle it!”
But I hadn’t reckoned on walking past drug pushers, junkies, prostitutes, and homeless people on my way to the grocery store. It wasn’t anything like the cow-pasture farmland of my Michigan childhood. And I much preferred the cows. At least I knew they wouldn’t attack me! But I worked hard at being courageous.
Yet I soon became too overwhelmed to go out alone.
Dictionaries define fear as a disturbed or unpleasant feeling brought on by the presence, imminence, or thought of danger. But if allowed to grow, it overtakes and engulfs, crippling and paralyzing its victim. And it wasn’t long until I felt unsafe, even at home.
I was imprisoned.
Doors locked, blinds closed, I became a prisoner in my home. As much as if I’d actually been locked up in prison.
During this self-imposed confinement, the Lord used Corrie ten Boom to remind me that he is victor over all our enemies – even fear. “Just ask the Lord to help you overcome it,” she wrote. And recounted how the Lord had her freed her from fear, as soon as she prayed. “Oh, to have such faith!” I thought. Yet, I continued on with the ever-growing specter of fear.
Then while David Wilkerson’s church, the Lord finally got through to me. After announcing that he wanted to pray for everyone present who was suffering from fear, he asked us to our hands as a sign of faith.
But I didn’t want to. “No, not me. Then everyone will know!”
But my husband and children were there waiting and watching. And the look in my hubby’s eyes, more than anything, convinced me that I was being foolish. With that look he asked “How bad do you want things to get? You can’t go out. You can’t eat or sleep. You’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” And here I had thought my fear was a well-kept secret! But one thing was certain. I definitely couldn’t go on like that.
So I raised my hand, and the fear vanished!
It may seem unbelievably simple, but in that moment God took that debilitating fear away! How, I don’t know. But it was as though the Lord had simply been waiting for me to trust him.
And suddenly, I had a new lease on life!
The Lord could step in and do such miracles without involving us. He could just reach out and remove our fear even as we sleep. But he chooses instead to use methods that teach us to trust him.
“How,” I wondered, “could I have forgotten that the Lord was with me, even in the Bronx? After all he is everywhere and in all times!”
Then people must have thought me more crazy than before!
Doors wide open, I closed the blinds only at night for privacy. And pulling my little wheeled shopping bag along, outings became a joy! I even drove myself to evening Italian classes!
And during our remaining year there, I discovered how fascinating the Big Apple is. I learned why every true New Yorker thinks that “there is no place like New York.” And though I may not really share their sentiment, I see why they feel that way.
And we never again locked our doors in the Bronx!
Not even at night! “That’s insane!” friends said. “It’s too dangerous! You need to use common sense too!
“It’s OK” I assured them. “The Lord is with us, and he even gave us Rocky the Watchdog. The two of them keep watch over us.” And I slept like a baby thinking, Lord you truly are with us, everywhere and all the time. And I need never fear again!
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.Psalm 4:8 WEB
Many of life’s difficulties can cause overwhelming, crippling fear: illness, unemployment, death of a loved one, even public speaking. But the Lord is ready to help us overcome our fear and replace it with his peace and joy!
We just need to reach out with our tiny mustard seed of faith, knowing God will help it grow!
IMAGES: Door by Dmitry Zvolskiy. | NY is my own.