Facing Fear Series…
A guest post by Christine at www.gracebreakthroughs.com
Photo credit: Ikostudio/Canva.com
A Very Traumatic Beginning
Fear strangled my heart and cut off the lifeblood of trusting and loving relationships.
My schizophrenic father terrorized my mother, younger sister, and me. My mom told me that one time she and I were riding in the car with him. I was crying. Suddenly he slammed his fist down on the dashboard and threatened to kill us if she couldn’t get me to stop crying.
When I was four years old, we escaped from my dad. My mom divorced him and later remarried. She still lived in fear that one day he would find and kill us. When I was in elementary school, she told me, “Your dad might find us.” You can imagine the effect that her fear had on me.
Fear cripples. Fear speaks lies to your heart. “Something horrible is going to happen.” “You’ll never be the same after ‘it’ happens.” I was afraid of the future. I was scared of the dark. Later public speaking terrified me. Fear of rejection ranked high on my list of fears.
My heart was constantly crying out, “Help! I’m so scared!” But the words did not come. I couldn’t articulate the truth of my fearful, broken heart.
How I Coped with the Fear
So how did I handle all the fear? Hiding, self-medicating, escaping through alcohol and drugs and looking for people who would comfort me. And how did all that work for me? You know the answer. Things just got worse.
In 1973 at a David Wilkerson evangelistic meeting in Portland, Oregon, my Abba Father met me and turned my life right side up. He saved me out of a self-destructive lifestyle.
“All the fear melted away,” I would like to say. But that just didn’t happen. In fact, because I didn’t know God very well yet, I added the worst fear of all to my list—that I couldn’t be acceptable to Him. This fear kept me from really enjoying my relationship with God for a long time.
Photo credit: Yaruta/depositphotos.com
Abba Father’s Answer to Fear
Abba’s way of “helping” me deal with fear still seems upside down, but His methods have been most effective.
Called to Missionary Service to Japan
The Lord gave me a heart for the Japanese. I served as a missionary to Japan for 17 years as a church planter/teacher.
God sent me to Japan, “the graveyard of missionaries.” Why is it called that? Because the Japanese are known for their rejection of foreigners.
Why would God send me to a country known for rejecting foreigners? Though I had many loving Japanese relationships, I had to face the fear of criticism and rejection.
Experience of God’s Presence
A small group of Japanese Christians criticized me for not meeting their expectations. They wanted me to be an aggressive evangelist who brought many people into their church. My ministry style was different. My focus was on building loving friendships and sharing the gospel of grace.
The critical words of the Japanese stung. I felt humiliated and rejected. At the same time, the Lord’s presence was with me. As Paul said, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17a, NIV). The sense of peace was incredible.
The Comforting Power of the Word
Even before I left the US for service in Japan, these verses were very precious to me:
[Tweet “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. Isaiah 41:9”]
“I have chosen you and have not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9b, NIV).
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Facing the Greatest Fear of All
The enemy knew my greatest fear. His attack came at this most vulnerable point. His purpose was to destroy me or to prevent me from serving God wholeheartedly.
At the time, I was working in a small church in Aomori City in the northern part of the main island of Japan. I struggled with depression while living there. I bought a parakeet who became my companion, and I jokingly called her my “paraclete.” That’s the Greek word for “comforter” and used for the Holy Spirit.
One day the attack from the enemy came. How do I know it was the enemy? Because my greatest fear was a horrific lie—that after all I did, in the end, God would not accept me. That fear hit me like a hurricane. I felt the absolute terror of separation from God. I crumpled to the kitchen floor and cried out in deep soul pain.
This fear was probably connected to the terror I experienced in my relationship with my earthly father and the pain of separation from him.
My fear of ultimate rejection by God had to be faced and seen as a horrible lie from the enemy.
I cried for some time and then looked up. My parakeet was standing on the towel rack. She was watching me. She flew to me and landed on my head. She then hung her head over and gently brushed my hair from one side of my forehead to the other with her beak. Just like comforting a crying child with a gentle touch. How amazing was that! I felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit through that little bird.
“Perfect Love Drives Out Fear”
(1 John 4:18, NIV)
Where the enemy wanted to destroy me, my Father wanted to set me free. That meant going through the fears with the power of the Word and His presence. Each fearful experience became an encounter with God Himself and His grace and truth.
Follow this link to read more about how God lead me through the fear of rejection:
The fear of rejection no longer cripples me. I might feel it, but I can deal with it in the Lord.
Before I left for Japan, my uncle took me to see my dad. I hadn’t seen him in about 26 years. What a joyful yet tearful reunion! My dad was still affected by his mental illness, but we both were happy to see each other.
Years later when I was living back in the States, I heard that my dad was dying. I traveled up north to Washington State and was with him when he died. Loving and caring for him was healing to both of us.
Thank you, Father, for your perfect love that casts out fear!
Christine L’Heureux is passionate about studying, sharing, and living out the truths of grace.
Christine graduated from Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada. She served 17 years as a missionary with OMF International in Japan. God called her to Japan to learn and teach grace.
Though in full-time ministry, Christine struggled with depression and discouragement. For the first 4½ years of her life, she lived with her mother and schizophrenic father. She was deeply wounded and traumatized. She desperately needed to understand and experience grace to heal. Over the years, God has healed and restored her soul. Through the long process, the love and grace of the Lord have captured her heart.
What a powerful testimony, Christine! Thank you for showing how the Lord walked with you through depression and rejection. Your testimony shows how God lovingly comforts us when we need it most. I appreciate your friendship and participation in this series.