Set Free From Fear
We buried my aunt Chressa last week. If you had known her even a little bit, you would have known that my aunt Chressa loved Jesus and it was her life’s mission that you knew how much Jesus loved you.
At her funeral, they quoted the verse Isaiah 41:10 which says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
It was one of her life versus and it was really important to her. As they read this verse, I couldn’t help but think if anyone knew about fear, and needing to hold onto Jesus‘s hand it was her. My aunt Chressa was given a hard life, but despite all the hard circumstances she faced, she lived up to her middle name: Joy. She chose to fight for joy, to fight for courage, to fight for love, to fight for gentleness, and to fight for graciousness, even when it would have been so much easier to choose the opposite.
You see, my aunt Chressa knew that the secret to overcoming fear and despair was to walk with Jesus. She knew that all she had to do was take hold of Jesus’ hand and let him lead her.
Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes Jesus leads me to really scary places. Sometimes, the places that God wants me to go are far more deep and dangerous than I would ever want to go on my own. It’s in those moments that we have a choice, we can either choose to believe what our senses are telling us, choose to believe the fear pulsing in our ears, or we can say, “I take hold of Your hand and I go where you lead.”
See fear only flees when you keep walking with Jesus despite Satan using it to try to trip you up. It’s when you resist, when you put one foot in front of the other and say “I don’t care how terrified I feel choosing obedience to Christ, this is the path he is leading me on and to walk anywhere without him would be a million times scarier.”
In my own life, the fear of what others think of me has held me a prisoner. For so long, I was afraid to share my testimony, to share the gospel, or to just pray in front of another person because I worried they would judge me or criticize me.
But Jesus says that his perfect love casts out fear. When I remember how perfectly I am loved, not for who I could be or if I cleaned up my act enough, but loved even when I was the villain, even when I choose fear and disobedience over God's best for my life, even when my life is riddled with sin, I find courage. When I know that I am fully known and fully loved, it helps me remember that no one can ever separate me from the source of my love, joy, peace, or identity. No one’s words or opinions can separate me from God.
I am reminded of Jesus’ own words when he was on trial for crimes he never committed. When Jesus was facing Pilot, he told him “You would have no authority over me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
When I remember that people do not have power over me without my loving Father’s say so, I too can choose to walk into scary situations knowing He will never leave me to walk through them alone.
I have been through many seasons of refining fire in my life, through the midst of mental illness, loss of loved ones, unfulfilled desires and dreams, and the pain of regret for poor choices, Jesus has never abandoned me to walk alone. He never said “you did this to yourself and you’re on your own.” Instead, he says “I know this hurts, let me guide you out. Let me take hold of your right hand and comfort you and uphold you.”
What can man do to me? They only have some power over my body, but I revere God’s power more. He has the power over my very soul.
Words can hurt our hearts and taint our reputations, but they will never be able to change God’s love for you. My encouragement to you today is to fix your eyes on your final destination. To ask yourself, “What do I want to be remembered for?”
My Aunt Chressa was remembered by the large crowd of friends and family as a gracious and safe woman who loved you like Jesus and left you feeling better each and every time she was with you.
In her short 63 years of life, she was mocked, bullied, ridiculed, belittled, beaten, and hated. She endured many trials and tribulations, and yet nothing Satan could throw at her could separate her from the Lover of her soul and the Rock that made her steady. Each time she got knocked down, she surrendered her heart and life to Jesus for safekeeping and she got back up and chose to fight back with his radical love and grace.
Chressa Joy was the fiercest warrior I knew. She didn’t fight against flesh and blood, she fought against demonic principalities and she set people free.
Be like Chressa. Rise up dear soul, the outcome of your war is guaranteed. Your victory is secure. Be brave and go fight to set the captives free. You were created for so much more than this world can ever offer.
Fear is a lie meant to hold you prisoner. Jesus died to set you free so that you could be his hands and feet to share the good news.