Fearless

In nineteen eighty-nine, three enterprising young men created a clothing brand, billed as an ‘extreme sports brand with added attitude’. It now includes its own highly successful energy drink, and the brand has even been promoted by Hollywood through several of its ‘blockbuster’ movies.
The brand’s name?

No Fear

No Fear has been a global success story. So much so that the logo could often be seen on bumper-stickers, vehicle windows and, of course, on the clothing itself.

At one time, if you were to walk down almost any high street, you’d probably see the name – ‘No Fear’.

Fast forward to 2020 and what do we now see as we walk those same streets? We see fear. Despite faces half-hidden by masks, we see a population afraid. A demoralised people living in fear. But fear of what?

We’re warned of a dreadful ‘hidden enemy’ that stalks our land like a bacteriological Grim Reaper, striking down countless thousands as it cuts swathes through the nation. So goes the warning. But what do we actually see?

We see TV bulletins. We see headlines in newspapers. On the radio we hear an unrelenting chorus of pessimism and hopelessness every hour, on the hour. Of course people are afraid. Isn’t it inevitable?

But …

… what if that which people fear most is simply the bad news itself? They dread the next baffling bulletin, the next bizarre broadcast. What if it’s these things that are blighting their lives?

Like moths drawn to a flame, they can’t resist the urge to do that which causes their pain and they switch on, tune in and hang onto every word. Unbeknown to them, their greatest fears are being realised each and every day.

Fear.

Of course, there may be some whose desire is for us to be fearful; some who consider that fear renders us compliant, placid and helpless. After all, before 2020, were the headlines that much different? Were they, really?

Whatever the reasons may be, God doesn’t want us to be afraid.

“… do not fear for I am with you …”

Genesis 26:24

Any non-Christians reading the above verse may doubt the relevance of a phrase written fifteen hundred years before Christ. What validity does it have to those events occurring in the twenty-first century?

However, the bible teaches us that a fear-less life, living under the assurance of God’s love and protection was not something that was limited to Abraham’s generation all those years ago. The verse is a timeless one and applies to every single one of God’s children. I am one. As are you.

Despite the extraordinary and perverse events I see around me I don’t allow fear to dwell in me. I never allow it to gain purchase. That’s not to say that I’m a stranger to fear. I’m no more brave or resilient than the next man. Far from it. Fear has featured in my daily life for many years.

With God’s help, however, fear is now a temporary intruder, hastily evicted, rather than an unwelcome lodger permitted to squat in the basement of my psyche.

Such control over this unwelcome guest hasn’t always been the case. I’ll explain.

In 2017 I was invited by my medical specialist to give an account of living with uncontrolled epilepsy – a condition that goes hand-in-glove with stress and fear. This is what I wrote at that time:


Imagine if you will, driving your car down a busy road at night. It could be a narrow road such as those in North Yorkshire, flanked by dry stone walls. The walls have stood for over a century. They’re solid, rugged and unforgiving.

As you contemplate the stone-cold walls, you hit black ice and spin out of control. Please now focus on the nauseating fear you have in the pit of your stomach. Imagine removing your hands from the wheel—for you are no longer in control of your body’s motor function.

Now, remove all your lucidity, knowledge of the likely outcome; eliminate any memory you may have of previous such experiences. Disregard your earlier sense of logic— for at the onset of an epileptic seizure, logic no longer has a seat in the house.

You may fear crippling injury; you can’t influence the outcome. Anxiety piles on distress. You may die. Your fate is out of your hands.

Now, imagine how that feels. But let me tell you, you’re still not even close to experiencing the all-consuming fear of a seizure.

Consider the sickening sense of relief you experience as you regain control.

Your heart rate settles, the trembling in your limbs eases. Sweating ceases as your body and mind recovers.

Now, contemplate the dawning realisation that this will happen again later in the day. It will happen twice, three times maybe. And you have no idea of when they’ll hit you or where you’ll be when they do. Imagine the dread at facing a tomorrow loaded with the same constant threat— and every day of your life.

Now, put on a smile and carry on.

You see, the fear doesn’t come and go with the seizure activity. It remains a constant feature, albeit at a fluctuating level each day.


That was my life in 2017.

Two years later, almost crushed by the burden of responsibility in an increasingly hostile and dysfunctional world, whilst at the same time struggling to maintain control of body and mind, I cast my cares onto God, and declared:

‘Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need Your help in my life.’

I waved the white flag. But mine was not a flag of surrender, but one of victory, for that’s when my life changed.

That’s when my unwelcome lodger was finally expelled from the basement.

Worry and anxiety not only drain the spirit, but deplete our physical strength and consume our joy for life. Worry and fear are unacceptable. Jesus told us not to worry. He knows it can break us physically, mentally and spiritually – and this is not what he wants for us.

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Phillipians 4:6-7

To further illustrate the secure, unflinching confidence of a life filled with God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, what follows is a statement written by a Christian brother. Before proceeding, you may read his brief testimony here.

Here is his declaration:


Declaration

Fifty-three years ago as a hard-drinking foul-mouthed soldier who tried to kill his friend who had become a Christian, God used that same friend to bring me to the cross of salvation.
God took me from the barrack room and anointed me to preach His Word.

He took me to nineteen different countries on four continents, some of them up to eight times. I have traveled on every type of transport known to man, and some that should not be known to man. I have slept in high-class hotels and under the stars. I have lived in villages and shanty towns in Africa and India, have walked through war zones and deserts, and have climbed mountains and traversed forests.

I have faced wild animals, been chased by angry mobs, had guns pointed at me and been caught up in riots (not of my making).

I have been with kings and politicians and with street beggars. I once climbed a mountain to minister to two dear souls and have preached to vast crowds at open-air meetings. I have conducted seminars for hundreds and Bible studies for two seekers.

I have worked with some of the finest children of God in all of the countries I visited. I have been inspired by their devotion to the work of His Kingdom and have counted it a great honour to have been able to work alongside them.

Now I am nearing my seventy-sixth birthday. I am still on fire for God and His Word; I am fit and (as far as I have ever been) am of sound mind.

I will not be cowered by a virus or intimidated by immoral liars of any political party. Nor will I be kept down by weak church leaders.

I am an eagle and I will rise up and proclaim the Word of God.



A final word on ‘fear’.

In the words of a song by American artist, Zach Williams, fear is also a liar:

Fear he is a liar.
He will take your breath,
Stop you in your steps.
Fear he is a liar.
He will rob your rest,
Steal your happiness.
Cast your fear in the fire,
‘Cause fear he is a liar.

To hear the song, click here.


Answering the Call

Several months ago, when electing to create a faith-based blog, there were a number of elements I’d decided from the get-go that wouldn’t feature on the site. One of those was prayer.

I’d noted while doing background research prior to building my site, that some Christian bloggers include prayers in one form or another. I considered, however, that as prayers are intimate discussions between the one praying and God, they were not for airing on an open forum such as a blog-site. I emphasise that this was simply my own view on the matter at that time. I’m not criticising those who think differently.

What follows, however, is a prayer. So what happened to change my mind?

For several months I’ve been keeping a Prayer Journal. I personally find it useful and consider that it enhances my prayer-life. As a keen writer I’ve long found that I can express myself more fully through the written word rather than the spoken one. My thoughts are more focused, I’m less distracted and the result expresses more effectively those things I wish to say.

I’ve also found there to be other assets to maintaining a prayer journal. These may be a subject for a future post.

When reading through my journal, I’m struck by how each prayer is unique, but each one follows a similar structure: praise, thanks, personal requests, intercession for others, commitment to serve and so on. Today’s prayer, however, was different.

As I wrote my prayer, the words seemed to appear on the page without pre-meditation. It was as though they were being spoken by my inner-self, without conscious thought. It was as though I was being ‘led by the spirit’. Consequently, it’s structure differs from previous examples. As does its tone. Its rhythm also differs from those on previous pages. This, together with the overall content has given me pause for thought.

Why this prayer? And why now?

If you’ve already read my previous post ‘A Question of Obedience’, you will gather that its final paragraph may be viewed as a closing chapter in my life as a Christian. One that has ended with me walking away from my church, disgusted by the establishment’s willingness to obey government rather than God. But, what am I walking towards?

I’ve no idea what the future holds. I do sense, however, that as I enter what appears to be uncharted territory, God has had this course mapped-out since before time began, and He is calling me to join Him for what lies ahead.

It is as though the past sixty-two years, with its trials, sorrows and disappointments have all led to this amazing time in history. All God asked of me was to answer His call. This morning I did just that.

Here is my prayer:


Lord Jesus, I thank you that you re-entered my life at this moment in history.

Make me your vessel.

Mould me and shape me as the potter moulds the clay.

Make me a instrument of Yours; a weapon, keenly-edged and strong for the fight to come; a fight in which I gladly serve in Your name.

Father, Your lifelong servant and my friend in Christ has told me he wants me strong in body, mind and spirit for the road ahead. I come to You in faith now. Heal me. Heal me. Lift these seizures from me, Lord. Clear my mind from their distractions, confusion and mind-weakening hold on me.

Make me strong. Make me Your warrior.

Jesus, be my shield and buckler now, my rearguard, too. I swear to You today, Lord, that I take on the full armour of God; the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth. I put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. I take up the shield of faith, the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. I put on the garments of vengeance and the cloak of zeal.

I will not be afraid.

For I am but one in Your mighty army, Lord.

Use me as You will, Jesus, for I am Yours, devoted to the service in Your just and righteous cause, working toward a certain victory that will give glory to Your name.

Jesus, as a paladin knight on the eve of battle, I ask that You cleanse me, purify me and forgive me of all sins. I devote my life to You, Lord, with love and thanks, for I am washed by the blood of the lamb. I am Yours.

And I know that all things work together for good to those who love You; to those who are called according to Your purpose. I have been called, and I answer that call.

For You are my Commander-in-Chief and I offer my life to You, as You gave Yours for me.

Lord, I ask for Your protection for my family, my home and all in my stewardship. Protect and strengthen all my brothers and sisters in Christ – Your holy remnant in this fight, in these final days.

Lord, everything I do from this day forward, I do for You, willingly and confidently. Victory is assured.

By the blessed blood of my Lord and Saviour, I pray. Amen