Be Fearless Like Jesus

It is often said that faith and fear cannot exist in the same body. Whereas I agree with the premise that if you counter fear with faith, you won’t focus on fear, it does take conscious action.

In an embarrassing, arrogant moment about two years ago, I told a friend, I don’t feel fear. Apparently, God did not like such arrogance (as if I was able to conquer fear without His strength and help) because shortly thereafter I suffered a major heart attack where I had a 100% blockage in my right artery-blocking blood from entering my heart. Only God can explain how I did not suffer severe heart damage because the doctor who inserted the stent said that by the time he got into my heart 2/3 of it had no blood in it whatsoever. He told me my life would be changed forever, but he meant physically. He felt for sure my heart would be damaged beyond repair. The reality is that it was far more emotionally destructive and for me, that has been a very difficult recovery.

The day after my stent was inserted the doctor ordered a sonogram which showed my heart was pumping at the same strength and ejection rates as it had two years prior when they were required to test my heart before back surgery. Needless to say, everyone was shocked at the result, and scratching their heads as to how I could’ve waited 24 hours to seek treatment after the first symptom presented itself, had a 100% blockage, and I still had, (and despite another current large LAD blockage), I still HAVE a heart functioning like an athlete. An oxymoron of sorts.

Suddenly I knew exactly what fear felt like. I did not consciously feel fear, but knowing that someone with my diet, exercise routine, physical appearance, and healthy habits had a heart attack made me wonder why everyone hadn’t had one. I was suddenly afraid for myself and my family/friends.  At almost 64 (at the time) I felt I was in the best shape of my life and yet, internally I was a medical emergency and mess. Eventually, the questions ate at me until I could no longer eat even my healthy diet (I lost 20 pounds even though I wasn’t overweight) and I had to escape for two 14-day vacations alone with my service dog and try to get my head together. I no longer trusted my body to sustain me, yet I was filled with faith that God would care for me. Fear and faith did exist in the same body, but it was not CO-EXISTING in a healthy way and I finally understood why they don’t, and can’t, exist in harmony. Fear definitely overrides faith and makes us very vulnerable to being nervous, feeling depressed, and experiencing anxiety.

As Palm Sunday arrived this year, I reflected on my experiences as I thought about how Jesus bravely rode into Jerusalem, knowing what He faced, yet He did it with courage. He strategically planned His arrival, the last supper refused to defend Himself when questioned, and voluntarily took the death of a sinner and thief upon His body in order to save humanity. I guess knowing His mission was bigger than Himself gave Him the courage to do what He had to do. However, it was GOD who gave Him the strength and discipline to follow through with His mission.

Now, I am not saying that in His vulnerable human state, He didn’t feel fear. He obviously did! In the evening after the last supper, He took some disciples with Him for edification (strength) and headed to The Garden of Gethsemane and pleaded with God three more times to release Him from the torture that was to come. At the same time, He had the faith that God would carry Him through His trial as He said “Not my will, but yours.”

“Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” He asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When He came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then He returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:36-46)

As the above scripture tells us, Jesus went into the garden in fear and came out with conviction to set aside His fear, lean on God, and be determined to live the rest of His incarnate life in God’s will instead of His own. You see, it is only in faith in God, leaning on His strength and promises, and doing what is RIGHT that we can remove fear and move forward in faith. What a great example Jesus is to us!

God has effectively re-taught me this lesson by allowing me to go through this recent emotionally terrifying experience. (Which was the after-effects of the heart attack. During it, I felt completely at peace and calmly talked to Jesus while there were medical alarms going off and personnel running around me like crazy) It has been a difficult journey to put my natural reaction to what happened aside and have faith in God that my life is about His will and not mine. In other words, I am ACTING on my faith instead of reacting to my circumstances.

Although we all know the traditional telling and reading of Bible scripture at Christmas and Easter, I like to look beyond the words and find the lesson. What did Jesus example to us? He showed us that fear and faith cannot happily co-exist. He taught us to face our challenges, no matter how difficult, with faith in God’s promises. He taught us how to lean on God for strength and conviction, giving God our free will so we can PEACEFULLY live the life that is planned for us.

The Bible says, “God knows the number of our days” (see Job below) so why should we live in fear of external circumstances and illnesses? Our longevity has already been decided.

If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the end of our story is very happy! As I can personally attest, He doesn’t leave us. (see John 14:18 below) He comes to comfort us in those life and death moments, so we should all have faith that He will hold our hand as we cross into eternity with Him. Indeed, the story of the Passover and Easter are very important for us to know and show our gratitude toward God, but being able to apply Jesus’s actions (instead of our normal reactions) to our daily lives is where He can meet us where we are and help us live peacefully on earth.

“A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” (Job 14:5)

Let the following encourage and edify you:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:18-20) You see? Nothing to fear at all! We are all one big happy family.

Jesus has come to me during the worst moments in my life and fulfilled His promises of comfort, strength, and companionship. He does the same for all who believe in Him and trust Him. AMEN ><>

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Love, hugs, and blessings, Lisa ><>

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