Some things we go through stay with us through the years, even if they seemed negative, at the time. For when we allow the Lord to work in situations, he can turn anything, even ashes, into something beautiful.
Having a fenced yard and a German Shepherd watchdog (read God’s Dog) made me feel safe. So safe that I thought, “This Big Apple will be a piece of cake. I can handle it!”
But I hadn’t reckoned on walking past drug pushers, junkies, prostitutes, and homeless people on my way to the grocery store. It wasn’t anything like the cow-pasture farmland of my childhood Michigan. And I much preferred the cows. At least I knew they wouldn’t attack me!
I worked hard at being courageous. But I soon became too overwhelmed to go out alone.
Dictionaries define fear as a disturbed or unpleasant feeling brought on by the presence or imminence of danger. But if allowed to grow, it overtakes and engulfs, crippling and paralyzing its victims. And it wasn’t long until I felt unsafe, even at home.
Doors locked, window blinds pulled, I became a prisoner in my home. As much as if I’d actually been imprisoned.
During this self-imposed confinement, through Corrie ten Boom, the Lord reminded me that he is victor over all our enemies, even fear. Just ask the Lord to help us overcome it, she wrote. And told how the Lord freed her of fear, as soon as she prayed. “Oh, to have such faith!” I thought. And continued life with the growing specter of fear.
THEN, WHILE VISITING DAVID WILKERSON’S CHURCH, THE LORD GOD THROUGH TO ME. Wanting to pray for all who were bound by fear, he simply asked us to raise our hands as a sign of faith. But I thought,”Oh no! Not me. Then everyone will know!”
But my husband was there, waiting and watching. And the look in his eyes, more than anything, convinced me that I was being foolish. A look which asked “How bad do you want things to get? You can’t go out. You can’t eat or sleep. You’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” And here I’d thought my fear was a well-kept secret! But I certainly couldn’t go on like that.
It may seem unbelievably simple, but it really was. In that moment God took that debilitating fear away!
How, I don’t know. It was as though he had been waiting for me to trust him. And suddenly, I had a new lease on life!
God could step in and do miracles without involving us. But he’s teaching us to trust him. And he wants us to show our faith in him.
“How,” I wondered, “could I have forgotten that the Lord was with me? He’s everywhere, even in New York City!”
People must have then thought me more crazy than before!
Doors wide open, I pulled blinds down only for night-time privacy. And pulling my little wheeled shopping bag along, outings became a joy! I even drove myself to evening Italian classes!
And during our remaining year there, I discovered how fascinating the Big Apple is. And learned why every true New Yorker thinks “there’s no place like New York.” And though I may not share their sentiment, I see why they’d never want to live anywhere else.
But most remarkable of all: during our year in the Bronx, we never again locked our doors. Not even at night!
“That’s insane!” friends said. “It’s too dangerous! We need to use common sense too!
“It’s OK” I assured them. “The Lord is with us and he even gave us Rocky. The two of them keep watch over us.” And I slept like a baby thinking, Lord you truly are with us. And I’ll never fear again!
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety, (Psalm 4:8).
Many of life’s difficulties can cause overwhelming, crippling fear: illness, unemployment, death of a loved one, even public speaking. But the Lord is ready to help us overcome our fear and replace it with his peace and joy!
We just need to reach out with our mustard seed of faith, knowing God will help it grow!
[Image of quiet Bronx neighborhood ©TheScoriellos-Mario]