As a usual summer activity during my teens, I attended church camp. At one such camp I went forward when the counselors asked for those who wanted to be involved in full-time Christian service. Later that night on the top bunk in my cabin, I sensed something was missing. I needed to ask God’s forgiveness. The one sin which loomed large was my habit of “stretching the truth,” as I called it. God took away my sins and gave me new life. I felt clean.
While I put away some bad habits, personal Bible reading and prayer times remained irregular at best. One evening late in my senior year of high school, a former boyfriend called me. Bill and I were married that summer, and I became a pastor’s wife in Mississippi.
We had an old upright piano in that parsonage, and Bill played it frequently, singing hymns with great joy. Again I sensed something missing in my life. The Holy Spirit dealt with me about total surrender. The only way I could keep what I loved dearly was to give everything to the Lord. One Sunday evening after everyone had left the church, I asked Bill to pray with me. I surrendered all. I felt as full as the moon that night.
I’ve struggled off and on with fear. About the time the shuttle Challenger had its fatal accident, the explosion brought fresh meaning about life’s uncertainty. My present circumstances dwarfed my faith. Fears about travel, health, finances and ministry made me numb. This paralysis of fear showed up in the slightest decisions I’d make, even about what I would eat.
As the Lord had done on numerous other occasions, He spoke to my need through Scripture. While reading a list in Revelation 21 of those who will not gain eternal life, one group stood out–the cowardly–and it headed the list of murderers, idolaters and liars (v.8). I saw myself among the cowardly, the fearful. Was there a cure? In Psalm 38 I read: “I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin” (v.18). I acted promptly and confessed my anxiety as sin. Then God did His work: “I sought the Lord, and He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
The by-product of slaying the dragon of fear has been receiving God’s peace. I took hold of God’s promise in Philippians: “Be anxious for nothing . . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7). Peace must be nurtured, daily. I am confident that the best part of my day is that time I spend alone with God, reading His Word, talking with Him, listening to Him. My life goal is “to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).