When I was a little kid--maybe about four or five years old--I overheard a man tell my dad that he had a nightmare about spiders. In the dream he was trapped in a pit somewhere and nasty critters crawled all over him and bit him. He screamed and struggled, but couldn't get away. He must have relayed the story with great emotion, because it left a lasting impression in me that morphed into an increasingly paralyzing phobia as I grew older.
By the time I reached my twenties, all spiders, no matter how tiny, were objects of terror. If I was alone in a room and saw one, I hollered until someone came to rescue me. I couldn't kill my nemesis myself, because fear riveted my eyes on it and rooted me to the floor. I couldn't cope with the thought of drawing closer to the eight-legged monster, and leaving the room was not an option either. If the spider disappeared during my absence, my irrational thinking convinced me it would attack me at night when I was asleep and most vulnerable. My fear became so potent, my myopic vision translated every undecipherable blob on the wall into a spider. Even seeing a picture in a book caused my heart to flutter, and I needed all my courage to turn the page.
But in my early 40s, I experienced a life-changing event. I fell in love with the Word of God and devoured massive doses of it every day. Less than a year later while painting a room in my house, I happened upon a little spider. Instead of screaming bloody murder, I ran it over with the roller and imbedded it forever in the creamy wall. (And I didn't cringe every time I entered the room afterward either.)
Two things from that experience triggered incredible joy: a) for an instant I felt sorry for my baby victim before I killed it, and b) I had been set free. To this day I don't know if the fear disappeared during that incident, or God had taken it away earlier. I puzzled over it for days until I read 1 John 4:18, and understanding came.
18a There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! [Amplied Bible] Although this verse refers to fear of judgment, it describes my circumstances perfectly. Through His still, small voice and the written Word, God had increased His love, the first fruit of the spirit, within me, and I didn't have to be afraid anymore. I give glory to God and His living Word.
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." [ESV]
If you have a similar story of how God set you free from fear, please consider sharing it with us. The one that receives the most comments will receive a copy of Winnie's Griggs's precious Love Inspired Historical Romance, The Christmas Journey.
Disclaimer: This contest applies only to readers in the USA.
3 Praise him [God] with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
For He is worthy to be praised.
Winner of the 2009 Phoenix Rattler "Does Your Story Have Bite?" Contest--Contemporary Romance Category.