Fear Not

Amy Thedinga and a Swazi childAll my life I have struggled with fear. When I had my first child, my anxiety kicked into high gear. Eventually, I had another child and experienced this crippling fear times two. Medication took the edge off, but only slightly. I had trouble leaving my children with a babysitter and would not be able to go around the block for a date with my husband without relentlessly texting and calling home. I was even scared to leave them in the church nursery!

As I was seeking God’s deliverance from this prison of anxiety, the answer came in a most unusual way. In the summer of 2009 when God began to talk to me about going to Africa the following year, I would have laughed if I wasn’t so frightened that He was serious. My end of the conversation went something like this: “I can’t even let my kids out of my sight long enough to go down the street for coffee and you want me not only to leave the country, but the continent, and enter another hemisphere with very limited communication for 11 days? Say what?”

I once heard someone say that the phrase “fear not” is in the bible 365 times; once for every day of the year. As I searched scripture to find the key to unlocking my freedom in this area, I began to realize that when the Lord told His people to fear not, He was really telling them that when fear attacks them, to trust Him, to follow His leading and not to run away from what He is calling them to do. In every instance He promised that if they stepped out, He would be with them. And in every instance, He was.

So with sweaty palms, dry mouth, and racing heart, I boarded the plane that would take me half the globe away from my children for more than a week to follow what I believe is His calling on my life. I wish I could say that I didn’t feel afraid, but the truth is that I was terrified. But ever faithful, my God was right beside me the whole time.

One day as our team worked on the garden, the children gathered around and started singing the most beautiful song in SiSwati. I stopped and asked the interpreter what they were singing. She said the words of the song translate as: “we know the Lord and He walks us through all our trouble.”

That’s when it hit me: I know the Lord and He will walk me through all of my trouble. There is no reason to be afraid. Come what may, my God will uphold me with His righteous right hand.

As I served in Africa and had the privilege to love and care for those beautiful children who have suffered more than most of us can even comprehend, I began to get a revelation. Who am I, based on my need to control and my feelings of fear, to refuse to obey God’s call and neglect to be part of the solution He is putting into place for these precious ones? On a selfish note, I shudder when I think of how dangerously close I came to letting fear cause me to miss out on one of the most valuable and life changing experiences I have ever had. I went to Africa wanting to be used by God to bring a ray of hope into their life but God in his goodness used them to do that very thing for me as well.

I hear so many people say things to me like, “Amy, I can’t go to Africa, I don’t have a job, I’m depressed, I have small children, I have an anxiety disorder”. Tell me about it! My response to them is this: When God calls you to do something, He will equip you and the only acceptable response is obedience. You can trust that when you are following His mandate to feed the hungry and care for the orphan, your righteousness will go before you and His glory will be your rear guard. So, fear not!

~by Amy Thedinga

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