I've tried so many times in my life to just "Let go and let God." The letting go part isn't so difficult. It is the not taking it back part that is the challenge. So many nights, I've prayed and said, "Okay, Lord, I'm giving this to you," only to pick whatever it was back up in the morning.
The Lord tells us in His word, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) Only a few months ago, during another discussion group, a pastor shared this word and I decided I needed to make it my word. Needless to say, tonight, I think I may have begun to clue in.
This past Friday, May 31st, Lacey and I were able to speak about our journey on the local Christian radio station.
The question was asked, "How did you feel going into Africa? Were you afraid at all?"
Both Lacey and I responded with an overwhelming, "No!"
Our reasoning was, of course, that we were there because God wanted us to be. He had a purpose for us there and, because He was with us, we had nothing to fear.
"Be strong and of good courage,
do not fear nor be afraid of them;
for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)
It is true. Before we left, I was not afraid of going to Africa or anything that went along with it. I was nervous about leaving my family behind and missing them; but, that was all that concerned me.
As I look back on my time in Rwanda and Kenya, I miss it so much. I miss the people and the places and the work. Most of all, I miss the freedom from fear. Each day as I awoke, I felt so much purpose. With that purpose, fear was pushed aside. I literally was on a mission and it was God's will. Knowing that gave me freedom.
I wasn't concerned about mosquito bites and malaria. (Later was tested for it upon my return, but I'm fine and that's another story all together.) I cradled ill children and taught parents how to help their little ones feel better. I hugged, held and cried with amazing women who happened to be HIV+. I worked with a wonderful nurse and prayed over the sick. I climbed up the steep hills and mountains of Rwanda, not worrying if I slipped down the muddy trail. I rode in a very questionable boat taking on water over a lake that was reportedly some seven kilometres deep. I preached for the first time, completely on the fly. I walked through the thirty acre dump in Nairobi, Kenya, flanked by armed guards, strolled through the slums skipping over puddles of raw sewage, and I gave a testimony I had never shared with anyone before in front of a room full of almost complete strangers. Most amazingly of all, I discovered a painful secret from my childhood, while holding a child that God told me had gone through the same thing. Through this child and through the prayer of a beautiful sister in Christ, God released me from that pain and much of the fear it had caused me to feel for so many years.
Now, I am back in Canada. I am back to what some may call my "real" life. Everything I experienced in Rwanda and Kenya is indeed real life. It was a God-given experience, meant not only to be a way He would use me in a tiny, tiny way to perhaps bring some joy and the love of Christ to others, but also to teach me something so valuable. When God gives us a purpose, when He chooses us to do His work in whatever respect, be it raising a family to love Him or leading thousands of people to Him... He means for us to be fearless.
This may very well be something I will need to be reminded of. I am so thankful that I can draw on these wonderful experiences. Sometimes, I just lie in my bed and think, "Wow! I may never have gone to Hawaii or skied down the Alps (or anywhere else for that matter), but God sent me to Africa and I wasn't afraid. How cool is that?"
So, tonight, as I have done many nights before, I am releasing fear to God; but, this time is different. This time, I know from experience that I am capable of living in a fearless manner thanks to my Father in Heaven. If, tomorrow morning, I try to pick up that nasty fear again, do me a favor, convict me of it will you? After all, a life without fear is freedom in Christ!
"Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)