No Fear In Death

There is no doubt in my mind that I will one day walk on a street of gold. One day, a hand that was once nail-driven to a wooden cross will reach out to me, and lead me Home. I will see my Savior face to face, and I will enjoy eternity in Heaven with Him.

I am not afraid of what life-after-death holds for me. (If you don’t know where you will spend eternity, go here to read how you can have that assurance.)

Once upon a time, I used to worry about how I would die. I’ve never been diagnosed with a terminal illness or told I only have a short time left to live. Yet there were nights I used to lay awake long after the rest of my family would be sleeping, and I would wonder how I would die. These worries at times would leave me frozen with fear, allowing anxiety to get a grip on my mind, debilitating me. Would I die in a car accident? I began to have panic attacks while driving. Would I die of a heart attack? I began to struggle with chest pains. Would I die of a stroke? I began to wonder if I had blood clots. Would I die of cancer? I began to question every twinge of pain.

Maybe you are reading this and are thinking about how silly and ridiculous I sound. A Christian afraid of dying?! Believe me, I used to think that of myself. Shame would fill me each time I struggled with this fear. Yet, I soon learned that I was not alone. In the last year, I received emails and private messages from other Christians who also struggle with anxiety, and have had the same fear of dying.

Over the years, I have learned that God has given us all the tools we need to overcome our anxieties. These tools are found in the Word of God. Once I realized that my fear of dying was beginning to affect me in a physical and unhealthy way, I turned to the scripture. There, I found exactly what I needed to turn my fear into peace!

Why I No Longer Fear Dying

God knows how many days I have left to live on this earth. In Psalms 39, we are told that God knows when we lay down to sleep, and when we rise for the day. He knows our thoughts before we speak them. In fact, God has a book with my name on it, and He is keeping track of every little detail about me, including how much time I have left on this earth. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever.” – Psalms 37:18

God has already declared what my end will be. When God moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1, He was putting thought into His creation. He was thinking about the little details He would give to each and everyone of us. If God put so much thought into His creation, wouldn’t He put some thought into how His creation would end? From the moment I was formed in my mothers womb, God had a plan for how my life would end. Not only that, His plan will bring Him glory, and it will please Him! Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” – Isaiah 46:10

God is holding my years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds in His hand. I trust God’s Word. He said that the death of His Son, Jesus Christ would be an atonement for my sins. He said that I can stand before His throne spotless, and blameless. If I can trust God to hold my eternity in His hand, why can’t I trust Him to hold my life in His hand? God has a plan for my life, but I can’t live that plan if I’m consumed with worry about my death! But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou are my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” – Psalms 31:14-15

I will not live one second longer than what God wills me to live. God is not going to allow anything to get in the way of His plan for me! What comfort to know that my death will not be some accidental mistake, or afterthought! God has set an appointment for my death, and He’s going to make sure I keep it! “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;” – Job 14:5

No matter how I will die, God will be with me. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, accident, murder – it doesn’t matter how I die, God has promised to be with me! No matter where I go, I can never outrun God’s hand. When my appointed time is up, God’s hand will be there to lead me Home, in fact, He may pick me up and hold me until we get there! “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” – Psalms 39:8-10

These precious promises God left in His Word are for us to take a hold of, and apply to our lives. If I trust Gods plans for me, then I don’t need to fear death. Trusting God is not about feelings or emotions, it is about action. I have to choose to trust God’s Word. I have to choose to commit Scripture to memory. I have to choose to quote these Scripture when I feel anxiety or fear. Only then can God turn my anxiety into peace!

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.”

– Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

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When Silence is Loud

Sitting on my couch, I watched the setting sun cast it’s long shadows across my living room wall. The silence in the house was so loud, it deafened me.

Yes, you read that right. I said the silence was deafening.

I come from a large, loud family. Even when we didn’t have friends over, our house was still crowded, and loud. As the middle child of five sisters, I was able to experience the joys of sharing a bedroom, bathroom, and even my clothes with a crowd!

Eventually, I moved out of my noisy house and into a noisy, college dormitory. There, I shared a room with 4 other girls. Our house had eleven people living in it. Talk about crazy!

After living my entire life with crazy, loud females, you would think I’d get my own place just so I could enjoy some silence. Instead, I met a really handsome guy and decided to get married. I went from sharing a noisy dormitory to living in an apartment with my husband. I worked a part time job until giving birth to our first child.

I have spent the last 16 years raising 4 children. When it was time for my youngest child to go to school full-time, and for me to enjoy silent days at home, I found myself taking care of my sick husband.

Finally the day arrived. My husband was going back to work full-time after being home nearly two years. In my excitement, I made a list of fun house projects, stacked several books in a neat pile by my chair (pictured above), and filled my calendar with empty days.

Except, instead of leisurely resting in the sweet joys of silence, I became a tight ball of nervous energy. I had never truly been alone for more than an hour or two, and I wasn’t used to the silence. I soon learned that I was not a person who loved complete silence. I would much rather try to have a conversation with my husband over the craziness of our 4 loud children, than to be in an empty, quiet house alone. There is a lesson in the Bible for every phase of our lives, and I soon learned the benefits silence.

We need silent moments in our lives to remind us that God is still God. We get so busy in our day-to-day crazy, that we allow the noise and confusion of the world to creep into our hearts. We become weighted down over news of future wars, corrupt politics, and raging teenagers with guns. Yet, when we take time to shut the world out a few minutes everyday, and read the Word of God, we can find comfort in the truth that God is still God! Those worries are not for us to figure out. Just be still and see what the Lord can do! Someday, He is going to come and make everything that’s wrong in this world, right!

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

We need quiet moments in our lives so we can see God’s miracles. Four months ago, my husband was in the final phase of his cancer treatments (read Gabe’s cancer story here). During that time, my life was crazy. I pretty much felt like a single mom as my husband was often too sick to partake in normal “daddy duties”. During those crazy days, I was too busy to see the miracles God was performing. It wasn’t until it was all over, and I found myself sitting in a quiet empty house, that the reality of our situation really hit me. My husband had survived cancer – twice! And although we struggled more financially than we ever had, we somehow not only survived, but thrived!

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord .” – Lamentations 3:26

We need quiet moments in our lives so God can give us confidence for our future. In Isaiah chapter 30, God warns Israel to not seek help from the Egyptians. He warns them that if they do, it will be to their own detriment. God advised Israel that their safety relied not in running for their lives, but in staying in the quietness of where they were.

Sometimes, we need to rest in the quietness of where we are. The shadows of our future can easily alarm us, causing us to fear tomorrow. We become tempted to follow the worlds solutions, rather than following God’s Word. Don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, wait quietly in the silence of where God has you now. Listen to His voice, and follow His Word. In doing this, we can have confidence in our tomorrows!

“For thus saith the Lord God , the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” – Isaiah 30:15

They say that silence is golden. I have yet to experience the physical riches of silence! I have learned, however, that there are many spiritual benefits to having a quiet moment.

Overcoming Anxiety Series #3 – What Does God Think About Anxiety?

What if I were to tell you that Jesus may have had anxiety?  In Hebrews 4:15, we are told that Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Not everyone suffers from true anxiety, but I believe I could argue that Jesus experienced anxiety at least once.

Picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He knew He was about to be betrayed by a close friend. He knew He was going to be given an unfair trial, beaten mercilessly, and cruelly put to death.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:44

There is a rare condition called Hematidrosis, in which a person will sweat blood.  It is not known what actually causes this condition, but it has been known to happen under extreme cases of fear or stress.

In the first article on Overcoming Anxiety, I explained the possible causes of anxiety.  For some, anxiety can come from a spiritual need, or lack of spiritual strength.  For others, anxiety can be borne from a physical illness. Lastly, anxiety can be brought on by mental illness or stress.

While I don’t believe Jesus was afraid, I truly believe He was under great stress.  I have wondered if this was the moment He began to carry the weight of sin for the entire world!  How did Jesus respond to anxiety?  He prayed, and He continued on with His task.

So what does God think about anxiety?

God wants you to come to come to Him with your anxiety. Philippians 4:6 – “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  Psalm 55:22 – “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

God wants you to trust Him.   Psalm 56:3 – “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”  Proverbs 3:5&6 – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

God wants you to love Him perfectly.  1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteh out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

God wants to give you strength. Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

God doesn’t want you to be afraid. Joshua 1:9 – “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

God wants to take care of your needs.  Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

God wants to give you peace.  John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

God wants to give you rest.  Psalm 4:8 – “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”  Matthew 11:28 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

God wants to give you power over your anxiety.2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

God wants you to think on lovely things.  Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

God wants you to praise Him despite your anxiety.  Colossians 3:15 – “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”  Psalms 56:4 – “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

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I sincerely pray that this series has been a help to some Christian struggling with anxiety. In the future I plan to add to this series, “Overcoming Anxiety“, so stay tuned! 

He Overwhelms My Days with Good

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Peeking down through the old, grated ceiling vent, I could see my dad sitting in his recliner. He was watching the eleven o’clock news, his cigarette sending puffs of smoke into the air. He yelled to my mother, who responded in turn with a heated tone. Realizing that a fight was brewing, I got up from the floor and tip-toed back to my bed. 

In my young, seven-year-old mind, I remember life before Jesus as a life filled with uncertainty. My parents were fighting a lot. I had a school friend whose parents had recently divorced, and I feared that would become my story.

One day, someone knocked on our front door and told my mom about Jesus. I remember she cried, then bowed her head to pray. A few weeks later, those same people came back and told my dad about Jesus. He cried, and bowed his head and prayed, too. Our family would never be the same!

Shortly after getting saved, my parents were invited to Hope Baptist Church. My dad never heard anyone speak with authority as he had that morning. When Pastor Sowell lifted his King James Bible into the air and declared, “don’t take my word for it”, my dad knew we were in the right place.

No longer were my days filled with fear over my parents fighting. Our family’s days now revolved around the changes we were making for God.

We went to a Christian book store and bought King James Bibles. We packed away our imodest clothing and worldly music.  My dad even gave up smoking and drinking. I didn’t hear swearing in the house anymore, and yes, my parents were filled with such zeal in their new-found faith, they no longer fought as they used to.

My family threw themselves into ministry wherever there was an opportunity. If the church doors were open, we were there. I remember cleaning bathrooms and vacuuming between pews. I worked in the nursery and helped wash dishes during Bible Conference. Once, I even did the worst job ever- scraping gum from the bottom of the pews! We sang in nursing homes, and even helped out in a ministry that focused on inner-city kids. As I got older, I had the opportunity to be involved in our tiny orchestra, and girls ensemble.

Life was good, and we were too busy to think about it! We were growing in the Lord as a family, and it was an amazing journey! Soon, I was in the singles group at church, where I met my husband. It wasn’t long before we were married and started our own family, beginning our own journey with the Lord. We have continued to throw ourselves into ministry, trying to raise our own children to have a deep love and desire for the Lord.

Life hasn’t always been easy. We’ve had our bumps along the way, just like any other normal family. We’ve had heart-breaks and sicknesses, frustrations and fears. Yet, each step of our bumpy journey, we have seen our days overwhelmed by Gods goodness!

We have watched other families, who don’t know Jesus, struggle with a diagnosis they’ve just recieved. They find themselves desperate, crying out for some kind of hope. They post on social media of their depression and despair, searching for answers that will help them cope with their grief.

And then, there’s my husband and I, sitting in treatment rooms, surgery waiting rooms, and appointment rooms, smiling, and sometimes laughing! How? Why? Even if our worst fears come to pass, there is joy at the end of our journey, and God’s grace for along the way. Because, He has overwhelmed our days with good!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” – Psalms 34:8

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:19‭-‬21

 

The Shepherd’s Voice

Tugging my mother’s sleeve, I whispered, “what are those people doing?” I pointed to the many weeping adults who were flooding the isle, making their way to the alter.

“They heard God’s voice. He wants them to come and talk with Him”.

I pondered that a few minutes. How did they hear God’s voice? Did they actually hear Him talk?

I listened as the evangelist played the piano with soothing confidence, his deep voice booming through the auditorium. My tummy felt funny. My heart was racing. The palms of my hands were sweaty. I could hear sobbing, as people continued to flood the alter. The preacher paced the platform, waving his hanky every now and then, shouting, “glory!”

Tugging my mom’s sleeve again, I asked, “how do you know when God is talking to you?”

My Mom smiled at me. “It’s different for everyone. Some people feel it in their hearts. Some people get nervous. You will know if He’s talking to you.”

At eight years of age, I realized that God was speaking to me, urging me to come talk to Him. I shakily left the pew and joined the dozens of others at the alter.


“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” – John 10:27

Listening to the Shepherd’s voice that day is something I will never forget. It is also something I will never regret. I have told this story to each of my kids, and they each have asked me the same question:

“What does the Shepherd tell you?”

There are times when He speaks conviction to me, and points out my pride or lack of self-control. It is hard for me to obey His voice sometimes, like when He tells me to witness to someone, or take a stand when I’m the only Christian around. When I confess my sin to Him, God is right there, extending forgiveness.

On the day’s I feel like I can’t keep going, that this path He has asked me to walk is too hard, He encourages me and offers reassurance. I feel my strength begin to come back, and I’m able to keep going.

Sometimes, I have to ask God the same question over and over again. He has always been patient with me, and proves His love for me over and over again!

When life gets tough, and I don’t know how things will turn out and I become fearful, the Shepherd whispers words of comfort and peace. He knows exactly what to say to me, to chase away my fears and replace them with hope. 

Then, there are days when I don’t need encouragement or chastisement. I don’t need comfort or peace. The Shepherd just fellowships with me! He reveals Himself to me through the beauty of a sunset or in a rainbow after a storm. When I watch birds flittering about, moving from tree to tree, I marvel at His Creation. It is in these moments I hear my Shepherd’s voice whisper His love to me, and I feel His hand on my shoulder. Worship wells inside of me, and I have to sing praises to my Father or I will burst!

If you have never heard The Shepherd’s voice, I strongly urge you to carefully listen for it. If you ask him to speak to you, and you take the time to stop and listen, He WILL reveal Himself to you, and you will never be the same!

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

Perfect Love

When I first met Gabe, one of the first things I noticed about him were his broad, strong shoulders. Back in those days (that I fondly call our “thin and trim years”), my husband loved to go to the gym. Even now, when he grabs me to pull me into his arms for a hug, I find myself surprised by his strength. And of course we have the old-fashioned husband-and-wife relationship where I hand him the brand new jar of pickles to open and let him carry heavy boxes for me!

Just like any couple who has been married over a year, my love for my husband has grown and changed.  I’ve seen things about his character that have made me love him even more deeply.

I know. This is getting too mushy.

I guess my point is, that this cancer journey has made me see a strength in Gabe that I have grown to admire more than his muscles.

How can someone who has stage 3 cancer be so positive? How does he have such peace about his future? How is he able to focus only on today? How is it that fear seems to not even be a part of my husband’s vocabulary?

I, on the other hand, feel as though I am desperately fighting fear on a daily basis. I am the one that lays awake at night, fear causing my stomach to churn.  I am the one who is grumpy at everyone the next day because I didn’t sleep the night before.

Fear. It makes me obsessive. It paralyzes me.  It controls me. It lies to me. It makes me crazy. It effects every other area of my life.

Why is it that fear can hurt your body and make you sick? Why is it that fear can keep you awake at night? How can it keep you a prisoner in your own home, or in your own mind? Fear can torment you!

“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.” – 1 John 4:18

Jesus did the most perfect thing on Calvary. He was the perfect Lamb, sacrificed for our sins. He showed perfect love.

Reading the accounts of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, I used to believe Jesus was afraid to die. However, I recently realized that if His love was perfect, He couldn’t have been afraid, and we know Jesus is perfect.

“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” – Luke 22:43‭-‬44 

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” – Matthew 26:39

Jesus was very sorrowful, and in a great deal of distress. It doesn’t mention fear, however. How was Jesus not fearful?!

…nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Perfect love is the key! Jesus had perfect love. Perfect love casts out fear. Even in His distress and sorrow, Jesus had perfect love for His Father. He trusted His Father, and submitted to His will. Jesus was able to get up off the ground in that garden, and walk towards impending doom. Without fear.

I believe my husband has figured out perfect love. He has figured out that it’s worth it to surrender to the Father’s will. He sleeps pretty well at night. He’s not bogged down by worry of how he’s going to react to the next treatment or if his cancer will one day spread to other organs.

He is not being tormented by his cancer.

I need to daily practice perfect love and trusting the Father’s will, knowing that only then, can I find peace and rest.

“O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”