At one point I joined all the other ladies in a session led by some pastor's wives. I sat at a table with a leader and we had some small group discussions. I spoke up about something and I remember that sweet, wise pastor's wife responding to me about the sin of the fear of man. I was kind of confused because I didn't see how what I said would have led her to believe I was struggling with that sin. But she pulled some index cards out of her Bible with verses that had helped give her freedom from the fear of man and she handed them to me. (I've lost one of them but the other one has Leviticus 26:4-13.) I didn't quite know what to say at that moment, but I stuck them in my Bible and brought them home. Honestly, every time I thought about it for the next few days I kinda scratched my head and said, "That was weird!"
We had our vision casting meeting for our church plant just two weeks later. That night was incredibly exciting. I couldn't even sleep for thinking about it. It was the climax of a year-long journey that changed the direction of our lives.
Then Monday morning came. We started hearing from those in attendance. Some were already in 100%, others were interested in taking next the step with us to see, and still others had questions. There were some that we didn't hear from right away. My mind would wander into the "what are they thinking?" zone.
I suddenly felt naked and vulnerable in front of everyone I knew. It was a very emotionally charged time. Positive things that people said made us feel so great and anything the slightest bit negative made us feel very low. It was a struggle to keep my mind steadfast on Christ and not be swayed one way or another by what so-and-so said or what I imagined they were thinking. It was hard.
I remembered those index card verses that were sitting in my Bible and I pulled them out. I realized I had taken a big, giant plunge into the waters of the fear of man. God was showing me how miserable I would be as a pastor's wife if I did not get victory now. Needless to say, I was very grateful that God had revealed this issue to the woman I'd met at the church planting conference.
I would like to tell you that this stronghold has been conquered and I am free of it as I sit here typing. But I am struggling! I've felt so weak in my belief that God is going to build this church. I begged Curtis to pray with me this morning. During prayer the Holy Spirit showed me that my faith is being held captive by the fear of man as well as by my desire to justify myself and my family to others in everything we do. I started weeping and confessing my sin as we prayed. I told God I'm finally letting go.
Curtis spoke truth to me that I have been trying to find a template that we can copy for our church. If we could just do that then it would answer some questions for me and I wouldn't have to operate in faith. In my search for this template I am bumping up against all kinds of conflicting ideas and it is stealing my peace. Conflicting ideas don't have to steal your peace, but for someone with fear of man issues, that's how it goes. It's like I want to line up behind someone who's already doing this successfully and have them pat me on the head and say, "Yeah! You're doing it right! Good girl!" What am I, nine years old? It is hard for me not to be disgusted with myself after writing that.
I have been a first born people pleaser my entire life. I did not recognize myself under the description of "one who fears man," but now I see that it is the same exact thing. It's also idolatry. Yikes!
As I finish this post it is a few days later. Praise Jesus, I feel free of this sin. My faith and joy are back. It seems like the stronghold has been disarmed. I'm sure I could re-arm it but I am desperately clinging to my Savior and my freedom. I wouldn't trade the lightness of heart that I'm feeling for anything. Even for approval. Please pray that God will seal this victory in my soul.
When we are bogged down and held captive to sin, the thought of ever being free can seem impossible. I think of when I was about 18 years old and living in major disobedience in a relationship God couldn't bless. I did not want to give up my sin. I saw no way out of my situation, so I just wanted to manage it and keep it. I thought freedom would be too costly and difficult. It took a long time for me to be miserable enough to repent and surrender. But when I did, Jesus's forgiveness was sweeter than anything I'd ever tasted. The freedom from guilt and fear was glorious. It was like losing 100 pounds off my body and 10 years off my age.
Maybe you have felt that way before. Or maybe you are suffering in captivity to your sin right now. My friend, I want you to know that Jesus is ready and willing to set you free. Your freedom may come overnight, but it doesn't always happen that way. Sometimes our freedom comes when we keep confessing and keep confessing and roll out of bed onto our knees in prayer before those chains can get a grip on us for the day. That is how it was for me when God brought me out of that relationship.
Friend, He is able.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19).
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27-31)
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)