Have you ever wondered why someone couldn’t get past their fear? Did you miss the fact that they needed you to coach them through it? I did.
A couple of days ago, I was outside exploring our creek with my daughters when Anna, age 9, spotted a Brown Water Snake. She’s asked for a pet snake a few times (so she could scare her friends), and she loves watching wilderness-animal videos, so I knew this was a big deal.
I’ve handled plenty of tame and wild snakes, but I made sure to identify the snake as non-venomous before I gently picked it up. (It’s my scientific responsibility to show my homeschool-mom skills, right?) I actually wasn’t prepared for her reaction.
She was absolutely overjoyed that I was holding a wild snake, as I knew she’d be. She couldn’t stop telling me how excited she was to finally see one up close… She just wouldn’t touch or hold it. I couldn’t understand her fear.
DON’T FALL FOR THE STRESS TRAP
It’s easy to give up when weariness takes over, but God has a better plan. You don’t have to give in to the enemy’s tactics.
To me, confidence was as simple as identifying the non-venomous eye shape and doing a quick search online. But she didn’t know this. Once she had seen the differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes for herself, she gradually worked up the courage to touch, and then handle, our snake.
We took pictures of her holding this snake and planned when and where she’d release it back into the wild. We even convinced my other daughter, Eve (age 3) to touch it. (She reminded me of the snake in her story, the one about Adam and Eve.)
But, when the time came to release the snake, Anna had to work up her courage to handle the snake all. over. again.
Knowing that it was non-venomous didn’t bring back the trust right away. Having courage took more than that. (We’ll give you a free download at the bottom of this post to share with anyone who needs God’s love to fight fear right now.)
Some people are experiencing fear related to COVID-19 isolation as I write this. As experienced Christians, lots of us are content because we know that God’s got this. We don’t fear quarantine. We know what it’s like to be cared for by our Father.
But what about those who don’t?
There’s more to my story of the snake. We had that snake indoors for a while and lost it behind the furniture. When they called me into the bedroom to find it, I asked the Lord, out loud, to show us where it was. I found it right away. No one had any doubt that God had answered me.
Here’s lesson #1: Sometimes the enemy is hiding behind the furniture.
Sometimes, the enemy is our own pride. As long as we feel confident and not scared, we’re happy. But, behind that happiness is a tendency to look down on others, instead of serving them.
A moment of transparency: I caught myself thinking that I was special, this week, because I wasn’t afraid of a quarantine. Here’s the problem: I wasn’t asking God to expose fear in the people that I was serving so that I could coach them through it. Instead, I was wondering why they didn’t just handle the snake.
How often do we lose sight of our own enemy, pride, just because we’re content to not be caught in someone else’s temptation? Sometimes, the real enemy is hidden. And it’s stopping us from loving.
Here’s lesson #2: Spiritual coaching takes work.
It took some work to get Anna past her fear. I had to model my own joy of snake-handling. I had to show her the pictures. I had to be patient with her hesitations. I would’t have done any of this if I didn’t think that I could help her get past her fear. When she finally held the snake, she mentioned over and over how she hadn’t thought she’d have the courage to handle it so soon.
Knowing that she was so delighted in her own victory was worth the work I put into coaching her.
Is there someone in your life who’s afraid? Maybe there’s nothing that you can do about it. Maybe they don’t want you to share with them why you’re not afraid.
But they might.
The enemy is behind the furniture. It’s not just the virus, and it’s not just the fear of quarantine. It’s also the pride of being glad that you’re not afraid because you know God’s got this… not realizing that you’re looking down (just a little bit) on the ones who are afraid.
To fight this enemy, take the time to ask God for guidance. He’ll expose your pride. Then, grab that sucker and put it back in its container. Yes, you’re confident in God. No, that doesn’t mean you’re better. But you can look for ways to take leadership. Then, coach. But, coach with the goal of teaching someone to handle their fear (snake) successfully.
Here’s lesson #3: We don’t need to be afraid of the enemy.
Fear can also be an enemy. It can take the form of healthy caution, or it can get blown out of proportion by over-reaction. When God exposes the devil’s lies of fear, don’t worry. When this happens, just grab the fear and put it back in its container (the Truth).
Here’s what I learned from Anna’s snake: healthy fear is meant to protect us from harm, but it becomes demonic when we let it keep us from God’s delightful gifts.
How do I know whether fear is just healthy caution or has a demonic root? I have to take the time to fully discuss the situation with God in my prayer journal. (Use our Guide to Hearing God’s Voice for this.)
Why do I trust God instead of fearing?
- Because he’s personally spoken his peace to me with scripture, and his words replaced the fear in my mind.
- Because he gave me common sense and he uses that to comfort me (i.e. how not to over-react).
- Because he gives me the strength to trust him and take confident action, while using healthy caution.
Here are the two scriptures that He spoke to me about fear this week:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.-1 John 4:18
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.-Psalm 4:8
Those two should get you started. If you’re coaching someone who has heard God’s voice of peace and then gets scared all over again (as my sweet daughter did), teach them “The Security Strategy.”
What’s that? It’s a simple strategy for saying “no” to temptation by saying “yes” to God’s love. Perfect love casts out fear, so it’s either one or the other.
We can, and should, feel 100% secure and free from fear in God’s love alone. “…thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) In reality, Christians are completely safe from fear, and even from fearing the temptation to fear. Why? Everyone who has received Jesus Christ as their Savior has had all venomous fear dissolved and washed away by the blood on His cross. (Click HERE and read the first page to someone who might need to receive Jesus for the first time.) Now, we can be content and secure in God’s non-venomous, healthy caution.
Use the Security Strategy, and teach it to others, so that no one has any reason to fear (not even to fear the temptation to fear). Good?