In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, Oh LORD, make me dwell in safety.”Psalm 4:8
Fear gripped my throat with his strong hand and squeezed. “You’re not safe,” he hissed. My heart pounded as I sat up in bed and held my stomach. “Oh LORD,” I prayed, “You are my stronghold! In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone make me dwell in safety!”
Slowly, Fear loosened his grasp, and I could breathe.
“Don’t be afraid, I’m here.” I remembered God’s promise and felt His presence and power to overcome Fear.
Unfortunately, this was a common pattern in my life, especially when I was young. As a child, I was always afraid but especially at night. When I lay in bed, every sound flooded my body with waves of adrenalin as I prepared to crash into the metaphorical rocks. Even with a night light the fear remained.
Regrettably, this isn’t something I outgrew until I was in my forties. Although, as an adult, most nights I fell asleep quickly. Still, when my husband was out of town, I was on high alert and felt just as vulnerable and powerless as I did as a child. I feared a break-in and anything else that could happen at the hand of a criminal. No, I did not live in a war zone or in the wild west. Yes, it was unlikely someone would break into the house. There was no rational reason to think this would happen. In contrast, we lived in a nice, rural neighborhood in Southern, Maine. The violent crime rate was low (almost non-existent). The house was locked and secure. We even had a large Labrador named Champ, although he was deficient in guard-dog genes and loved everyone (even burglar/murderers, I’m sure, if they had a biscuit or two).
So, why was I so afraid? Because my mind and body were conditioned to fear. I was on high alert all the time because my circumstances were unstable when I was a child. My fear may not have been all that rational, even then, but it was a whole lot more likely for something bad to happen because my father was an alcoholic. Anyone who has endured this reality can relate to the eggshell existence of never knowing what will happen but being prepared for the worst. Because of this, I believed things like, “You are not safe and never will be. In fact, something bad could happen any minute so don’t let your guard down.” Even as a Christian my faith in God was not enough to relieve me of my fear and anxiety. It wasn’t until I chose to allow God to renew my mind that I found freedom.
Over time, I confessed lies I believed as God revealed them. Things like, God doesn’t care about me, or God will abandon me; I must protect myself because no one else will; I can’t relax and have peace; I am powerless.
Can you relate? Of course, these beliefs contradict God’s Word. Therefore, all of them are lies. Fortunately, all of them can also be replaced with beautiful, powerful truths! However, I had to say them out loud and bring them into the light, confessing them as sin. Yes, believing that God is a liar is totally missing the mark. He is the exact opposite–HE IS LOVE. And, you know what? Many of these lies lost their grip on me and disappeared as fast as the boogie man under my bed. Other lies were a bit more tenacious and even hard to let go of. I still struggle with believing I must protect myself, even though I know it’s not true. But, when Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world,” He meant it. There is no darkness in Him. When we turn away from the lies that keep us in bondage to fear, resentment, greed, or any other idol, we turn from darkness into the glorious light. For me, God turned on His holy light through Scripture. He gave me powerful words that tore down the strongholds of deception and enabled me to build a new foundation of truth and power. Words like…
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:10
When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.Proverbs 3:24
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:27
For God has not given me a spirit of fear,
But a spirit of love,
and of power, and a sound mind,
To live each day and glorify his name.2 Timothy 1:7
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.Psalm 56:3
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
What about you? Do you have something that keeps you from living in freedom or keeps you from receiving God’s love? Write them down, shed light on the lies and confess. Then, sit back and bask in the glorious light of God’s promises for you as His beloved.
Father, please reveal and demolish any strongholds that set themselves up against the knowledge of God. Hear the prayers of Your fear-filled children who long to be free, trust You and love You with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. Amen