Casting Out Fear

I’m too cheap to buy quality bookcases, so it doesn’t take much to make mine wobble. When that happens, books may fall. It’s not a common occurrence, but it certainly isn’t newsworthy… most of the time. On this particular occasion, I was pulling an album off the shelf when a small paperback tumbled into my hands.

It was a copy of Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, sent to me anonymously when I was fifteen (and hospitalized following a car wreck). While I was intrigued by the anonymous gift, postmarked Chicago, I never read it. As I stood at my bookcase holding that book I had owned for decades, I knew nothing of its contents.

Two days earlier I had poured my heart and soul into an assignment for a Bible study at church. The question was simple: where would you like to be spiritually ten years from now? My answer came instantly: I longed to be free of the fear that was choking me, the fear that had gripped my life since childhood.

As a child, I was afraid of everything. Even the sight of dead fish at the fish market scared me!

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In college, I worried about my family crashing on their way to see me.

Motherhood brought a whole new set of fears.

I hated it.

A Bible verse I memorized as a teenager continued to convict me: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (I John 4:18).

Perfect love casteth out fear…

How could I love God and remain so fearful? Clearly, I wasn’t putting my complete trust in Him.

When my oldest child was three days old, she choked on some medicine and nearly died. A dear friend later gave me a card with a note: “Don’t worry about Alicia. God will keep her safe for His purpose.” While I appreciated the note, I feared what that purpose might be. What if it involved pain?

I begged God to remove my fear. That assignment became the prayer of my heart: “Dear Lord, cast out my fear!”

Two days later I was holding a book that had literally dropped into my hands, a book I had owned for decades but had never read. Absentmindedly, I opened it… and read: “This is the story of how Much-Afraid escaped from her Fearing relatives and went with the Shepherd to the High Places where ‘perfect love casteth out fear.’”

Wow.

I finally read that book.

That was sixteen years ago. I have shared that story several times over the years. I truly believe that God was responsible for getting that book to me initially in 1977 and for getting me to finally read it in 2000. Still, I must confess, my fear did not go away. It remained.

Then one day something happened. The thing I feared the most… happened. (Job 3:25)

I wish I could find words to express what the Lord has done in my heart since the thing happened that I most feared. But I can’t.

I’m reminded of Much-Afraid, the girl in the book. There were no shortcuts in her journey to the High Places, where “perfect love casteth out fear.” As painful as it was, she had to follow the path the Shepherd laid out for her with all its twists and turns, and months and months of desert. She often saw what seemed like excellent shortcuts, but the Shepherd said “no.” The path He laid out was perfect. It was exactly the preparation she needed to one day leap with hinds’ feet in the High Places.

As I look back over the past three years since the thing I feared came upon me, I see God like I’ve never seen Him before.

He has shown me that He is greater than my greatest fear.

He has reminded me that there is no substitute for time spent in His presence. There is no substitute for time spent in His Word and in prayer.

He makes all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

His is perfect love. HE is perfect love… and He has cast out all my fear.

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