How I Gained Freedom from a Spirit of Fear (and of log trucks)
Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Standing in front of Mrs. Brown’s sixth grade classroom at A.C. Steere Elementary is a vivid memory. My knees were literally knocking together while presenting a book report in front of twenty plus classmates. Suddenly, I started seeing spots in front of my eyes and the classroom went black as I slumped to the floor.
I fainted from fear.
Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is a common phobia which some estimate affects up to 75 percent of the American population.
Fast forward to a college classroom, where public speaking was a required course for my communications major. Can I tell you how much I dreaded that class?
But I learned the adrenaline coursing through my body and felt like someone was dancing in my abdomen could also help me speak better, projecting enthusiasm into whatever I was communicating to a group.
To calm my nerves before speaking, Jerome, a guy I barely knew who sat across the aisle, agreed to hold my hand before my presentation. That helped, but doing the thing I feared most, even though I wasn’t very good at it, was even more effective. I did overcome the fear and can honestly say I look forward to public speaking now.
Fear is a Tool in the Enemy's Hands
Fear is one of the most effective means in the enemy’s tool belt to keep us from fulfilling God’s will. Fear will hold you back from a life of destiny; faith will propel you to fulfill God’s purposes.
Fact is, I believe the enemy, who knows us well because he’s been studying us from birth, plants seeds of fear in our young hearts. Those fears are often designed to keep us from pursuing the very things God desires for us.
What better way to keep you from your destiny than causing you to fear certain aspects of God’s plan? If God desires for you to become a missionary, then a fear of flying may be a good hindrance.
Or what about a fear of the unknown – unknown cultures, languages, foods? Or perhaps God is calling you to become a medical professional, but a fear of germs or blood has kept you from even considering the possibility? You get the point.
The enemy has many tactics to keep us from our destinies in Christ, but fear is a pervasive one, especially in our culture.
Fear is from the Greek word “phobos.” It suggests a fear or a strong dose of respect for something that is life threatening, dangerous, or alarming. (Sparkling Gems, Rick Renner)
There are times when fear can be a good thing, such as a “fight or flight” response to sudden, unsafe situations. This instinct is God-given to protect us in dangerous moments when we need to act quickly.
But we are not designed to live in constant fear, a state which has become the norm for many Americans. Indeed, around the world.
Stress, Phobias and Worry are Forms of Fear
My biggest phobia, and surely it doesn’t have a name, was a fear of log trucks.
I hated the way the giant logs angled down on the truck’s flatbed, promising a sure decapitation if one drove behind it. My son, as a new driver with me in the passenger seat, learned firsthand about my phobia as he passed a log truck one day. I’m embarrassed to say I cried. Extreme, irrational, excessive.
The fear seemed completely rational to me at the time. But my response was over the top.
A 2017 Gallup poll showed that 79 percent of Americans feel stress sometimes or frequently during their day. That’s eight out of 10 people. Age is a major factor here – those 50 or older, particularly those 65 and up – are much less likely than younger adults to feel stressed.
Having too much to do is a frequent stressor. The hardest hit groups are employed Americans and parents of children under 18.
Women and men are equally likely to think they lack sufficient time, but women report higher levels of stress: women - 49 percent, and men – 40 percent.
Chapman University surveyed 1,190 American adults in June 2018 about their top fears. Seventy four percent expressed fear of government officials; 62 percent feared pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes; 61 percent feared pollution of drinking water; 57 percent feared not having enough money for the future; 57 percent also feared people they love becoming seriously ill; and 56 percent feared people they love dying. (Chapman University Survey of American Fears, June 2018.)
The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Note in this verse that it says, “spirit of fear” and “God has not given” it to us.
If it didn’t come from God, where did this spirit of fear come from?
The enemy of our souls, the devil, is the source of this spirit of fear. It is a demonic entity that comes to bring fear, in its many forms, into our lives. The rest of that verse adds the poignant punchline: God comes to bring power, love, and mental health.
Fear manifests in several ways: phobias, stress, anxiety, and worry, to name the most common.
Phobias – This is an extreme or irrational fear or aversion to something. This type of fear is characterized by being persistent and excessive. Usually it’s something we can rationalize as being a rational fear.
Stress – Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension caused by any event or thought that makes you frustrated, angry or nervous. The body reacts to a challenge or demand, which in the short-term can help avoid danger or meet a deadline. The medical community concurs that long-term stress can harm your health and mental well-being. Every type of demand, work, exercise, school, major life changes, or traumatic events, can be stressful.
Anxiety – Anxiety is intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. It can cause fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired. At its extreme, it can become all-consuming and interfere with daily living.
Worry – This means to be afflicted with mental distress or agitation, to be tormented.
Torment is exactly what fear does to us, tormenting us with the dire possibilities. Panic attacks also are a manifestation of fear.
I learned from my mother that it is my job to worry about my children. If we don’t, who will, right?
God expects us to trust him with our children, and every other precious thing in our lives. This was difficult for me to do, but completely freeing once I realized it wasn’t my duty or responsibility to worry.
Yes, we should be proactive and set boundaries for our children. We should pray and commit our children to God’s care and exercise loving discipline when necessary. But rest easy, worry is not in our job description.
A Spirit of Fear Opposes Faith
When we worry, we aren’t trusting God. “…do not worry about your life…” Jesus said that in Matthew 6:25.
“Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.
Fear is one of the most unrecognized sins in our culture.
The spirit of fear opposes faith. It will try to control the operation of faith in your life.
Think about it. When fear runs rampant in your life, what happens to your faith? As fear goes up, faith goes down. When faith goes up, fear goes down. The two cannot exist in equal measure in the same place at the same time.
One or the other will rule your life. It is your choice.
What steps can you take to become free from constant and unhealthy fear?
Recognize fear and how it operates in you – phobias, stress, anxiety, worry.
Admit to God you have allowed a “spirit of fear” to rule over your thoughts and emotions - repent to God for this. Also, this spirit of fear may have a root in your prior generations. You can repent for generational agreement with the spirit of fear and sever its impact on you and your descendants.
Renounce the spirit of fear – out loud and specifically.
Tell the “spirit of fear” it must go NOW, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Choose to trust God instead of fear.
Pray and release your concerns to God. Cultivate an intimate relationship Him. It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know well! Begin to choose faith over fear each time fear raises its ugly head.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Live in the now. Choose not to worry about the future, with God’s help. Take each day’s challenges one day at a time.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:33-34
Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (NIV)
God will help you recognize when you are feeling stressed, worried, or filled with anxiety. When you begin to feel the symptoms of unhealthy fear, go back to your Creator and Savior. Repeat the above process, as often as needed.
Getting free and walking in freedom is a process. God doesn’t reproach or condemn us. He simply wants us to be free. Be watchful over your own spirit, because the resulting freedom is well worth it.
Choose faith, not fear.
By the way, my fear of log trucks is gone. Your fears can be demolished too.
For more information on fear, see prior post on "Fear of the Storm Can Be Worse than the Storm Itself."
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