“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” – Psalm 34:4
When I was thirteen I went to a youth event where a passionate speaker challenged us to be radical for Jesus! I was stirred and full of amen’s…until, suddenly this well-meaning speaker pointed out that practically every single one of Jesus’ disciples was martyred for the sake of the gospel. Now I don’t want to freak you out, but let’s just say, that some of them didn’t exactly die pleasant deaths.
And there was me – thirteen years of age – and sooo not ready to die! One minute I was flying high on the wings of faith: “Yes Jesus! I’m going to live for you! I will follow you wherever you lead me! I will serve you no matter what the cost!” And the next minute it was like I’d hit a whopping great tree!
Suddenly I was back down to earth with a thud! I don’t think I realized at the time how profoundly this incident affected me. But right there in that meeting, it was like a menacing shadow of fear snuck in through the back door and ripped that faith right out of my thirteen-year-old fingers.
Something in me deflated. I came to Christ as a six year old. All I knew about Jesus was that He was good and kind and full of peace and love. Nobody had ever really laid out the cost to me before. I desperately loved Jesus and I wanted to live for Him – but preferably without the slightest hint of persecution or suffering, thank you very much.
I felt paralyzed. I kept trying to move forward, but I could still feel those shackles of fear holding me fast. In the back of my mind there were whispers of doubt: “You’d better not get too close to God! There’s no need to be radical! That’s for fanatics – it’s not for the likes of you. Stay within your comfort zone and be safe. The devil isn’t interested in luke-warm Christians.” Oh that crafty serpent! There’s always a tinge of truth in his sugar-coated lies.
Some years later, in my late teens, I was at another meeting. The Holy Spirit was moving and there was a call to step forward if you wanted to go deeper with God. I wanted to step forward with all my heart. I had a choice. Despite an inner struggle, I found myself responding. In fear and trepidation I found my feet moving. “Now hang on a minute!” I argued with myself “What on earth are you doing? You don’t really want to be doing this now, do you?”
As I stood there, eyes closed, hands raised, waiting for someone to come and pray for me, I silently poured out my heart to God,
“Lord I want to follow you,” I gushed, “I really do want to give my whole self to you – But I’m scared! I’m being really honest here – I don’t want to die!” Tears began to spill from my eyes as I confessed to God my deepest, darkest fears. Fears that I’d tried to bury. Fears that He already knew about anyway.
Suddenly, almost instantaneously, came a still small voice. It wasn’t audible, but it was clear as crystal. In the tender tones of a father, do you know what He said to me?
“Oh Angie, (isn’t it lovely when He calls us by name?) I’m not asking you to die for Me. I want you to live for Me!”
Oh the power of that one simple phrase! Do you know that when God speaks to you, it can change everything? Suddenly His perfect love flooded my being and I wanted to shout for joy! The shackles of fear were instantly smashed off – and all fear was gone!