What Does Fear Look Like?
What does fear look like? Where is fear lurking in our lives? How can we close the door of fear so it has no longer a hold on us and can no longer keep us from doing the will of God?
These are some questions touching my heart since March of 2008. This testimony actually started in September of 2007, only 3 months after God pulled my car out of the hands of the enemy. I had fallen into a deep depression inside my heart that was killing me. God took me from the brink of death that day and started me on a path that forever changed my life.
I was driving to Philadelphia for work one September day and felt that God was talking to me about speaking to my nephew, Mark. At that time, Mark was about 23. Mark had dreams of playing professional baseball and a heart of gold, but he never saw his big break through a door opening for him to play for the pros. One of the greatest characteristics about Mark was his love for people. He would always befriend the unloved person. He loved hard and friendships meant a lot to him.
As I thought about Mark, I sensed God telling me to speak to him about a tattoo of a cross he had recently gotten on his right bicep. That stirred me up. At this point I was still trying to find my way in life dealing with all the recent changes since God pulled my car off of the embankment as I was committing suicide. I wondered how I would speak to Mark about the cross. Wow – that made me sweat and cry at the same time! You see, I didn’t feel worthy to be used by God and, even though the depression was broken off my life, I still had fear of rejection. Insecurity and unworthiness plagued my mind and gripped my heart. What if he said NO? What if he rejected me because I was “preaching to him”? The “What if” questions just started to eat away at any faith I had to be used by God to touch someone else’s life.
The memories of my own High School years came flooding back, with my own responses to Christian friends who tried desperately to reach my heart for God. I would put my hand up and say “Talk to the hand”. I was not interested in hearing who this God was or wasn’t. I had so much pain in my heart as a teenager that the pain was overwhelming me and causing me to slowly suffocate from heartbreak. I remember my Mom occasionally taking me to Church and my sister trying to get me and her two sons to go to Church. It only worked for short periods of time. Therefore, I knew about this man, Jesus, but really was not interested at that time. My heart was wondering “if there is a God, why did he let my family lose so many loved ones in such a short period of time?”
The Olson family was an incredible, happy-go-lucky family, full of love and we touched the hearts of so many friends. I grew up in a house of love or love to the degree we knew what love looked like. The friends of my brothers and sisters came to our house like it was their own home, at any hour of the night. Then things started to change.
I was 14 years old, when we get a knock on the door in the wee hours of the morning. My older sister, Sherry, who was living with us had been killed in a one car accident. The driver was driving drunk and had lost control of the vehicle and the car had flipped into a concrete culvert along a main road on the mountain. She had two beautiful daughters who were my age. Now my sister, who was my best friend, was not in our lives any longer which slung me into a whirlwind of a downward spiral even in school. At that time, schools didn’t really look into helping students going through a tragedy and I don’t remember anyone reaching out to me. Just 11 months later, we get another shocking visit as my brother and I were pulling into the High School parking lot. My aunt was waiting there to take my brother to the hospital because my Dad had been in an accident at work and he was in a coma. He lived 5 days in a coma before he died. It did give us a chance to say good-bye, but it was really tough. Then, right as I graduated from High School, we received another horrific phone call while on vacation. My 4-year-old niece was riding in the back seat of my sister-in-law’s (her mom) car and they were hit by a drunk driver. Bethy had no chance and died instantly. She was a precious joy to our entire family and I loved her with all my heart. One of the worst times of my life was to have her taken from us in a moment.
What more can a family take? I think for years, I waited for the next person to leave without notice. That haunted me for so many years; who would be next?
I feel I had to tell you that to set the tone for what I was feeling inside as I was struggling inside over talking to Mark. In those years, I knew deep pain that kept me from wanting to know God, because I blamed God for taking my family members, one by one. I didn’t want any part of a God that would allow so much to happen to one family. I just didn’t understand who God was and judged Him without knowing or experiencing His love for us.
I was just coming to understand the love of God and that there was so much more to know about him. I was learning God is awesome. He opened a door and gave me an opportunity to hang out with Mark all by ourselves one day. Mark had a muscle tee-shirt on and the tattoo was visible. Fear gripped my heart and I allowed my faith in the enemy (fear) to be greater than my faith in God! Mark would have told me about his tattoo, I have no doubt ,as I look back on that opportunity. I knew Mark’s heart; he would have talked to me and told me what it meant to him. It would have opened the door to talk about God, but I chose to allow fear to divert my conversation into another direction that day.
Six months later, I was awakened by God at about 11:30–12:00 midnight. He did this many nights. Since I didn’t have to work the next day, I just dove into prayer and reading the Bible. I don’t remember what I was reading, but I knew God was preparing my heart for what was happening. I got a phone call from my brother at about 3 am, because he saw the light on in my bedroom as he sat in our driveway. I told him God had woken me at about midnight or so and I was reading the Bible and spending time with God, praying. He asked me to open the door and then the news fell from his mouth. Mark was pinned in the Suburban that was wrapped around a telephone pole and he had been dead several hours. Not again, he was so young! Our Marky was dead! No! No! I was so broken inside because I wasn’t sure where Mark was with God. Had I missed the one opportunity for him to hear about God? I don’t know what Abraham felt when he didn’t obey God and pursued his own solution by having Ishmael, but I do know that I felt like I let both Mark and God down! Did Mark know God? My heart was broken and gripped with so much pain. I vowed that day that I wanted to be used by God and I prayed that I never would walk in disobedience ever again. I prayed I would never feel that kind of pain again.
Mark was pinned for over 5 hours in the vehicle as the emergency crews worked hard to establish another pole in order to move the transformer that was resting on Mark’s body. I’m not sure about all the details, but I wondered why they couldn’t just move the pole and brace it somewhere else. The highway was shut down for quite some time and it seemed like the nightmare would never go away. Freak accident, yet another young Olson’s life was taken away far too soon, and far too quick without any chance to say good-bye!
At the funeral, a young man stood up and said that he had a chance to lead Mark to Christ a few years earlier. When I heard those words, I about passed out from relief. I was so excited because I knew Mark knew God. I never really mourned the loss of his life much after that day, because I was starting to look at death differently. I now knew it is not an end, but a new beginning to the rest of eternal life with Christ. Mark was in an awesome place with Jesus!
In those early days of my walk, I believe fear cost me something very valuable. A little while after Mark’s death, my brother (Mark’s Dad) told me Mark had a Bible in his car and that he also wore a gold cross necklace. Was God prompting us so we could both learn more about God? What an opportunity, as a young Christian, to have my family walk this out with me. Was he in the same place I was 18 years earlier, needing help to understand the Bible? Questions that I wanted to know the answer to, but I also do know that I cannot live in regret! I know that God is amazing and gentle and kind and He gave me a safe place to start my Christian walk. Yet the enemy still stole from our family; Mark would have been a great evangelist who loved the unloved and had a heart of gold.
Mark’s death was not in vain. I know God didn’t cause the accident and He was with him through those last moments. I have allowed God to use Mark’s death to catapult me even deeper into ministry while being held deeply in the arms of the Father. That one moment in my life has impacted me beyond words. I pray this also impacts your life to the degree that you will not allow fear to keep you from walking in obedience to God. Obedience is so crucial to our walk and our relationship with God. Joyce Meyers says it this way, “if you can’t get rid of the fear to do what you are called to do, then you do it with the fear and that will put the enemy under your feet.” Great advice!
Life is not about living in regret of the past, rather it is about leaning into the heart of Jesus and finding the lessons of those moments to propel you into a greater walk in your Destiny with Father God. Are there places in your life where you feel you royally screwed up? Scripture says in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” In this scripture, Joseph was talking to his brothers and he was helping them to understand to not be afraid, that he had forgiven them. Like Joseph, many of us have been hurt by others. No matter if it was intentional or accidental, lives are impacted whether for good or bad, and every action has a reaction. What we do with those moments in our lives is what makes the difference. How we react to those moments is the key to what love looks like! Joseph chose to look beyond the pain and hurt and kept his eyes on God. It doesn’t mean he did everything right all the time, but it is the position of the heart that God is looking at in the end result. Joseph didn’t retaliate toward his brothers, instead he was a solution to their future struggles for food. Joseph was the door to help them; through him they found life.
Is there someone you hurt but you won’t cross the line to hand them an olive branch for fear they will react in the same way you treated them, no matter if it was intentional or accidental? Joseph walked with God and it was only through God that he had the strength to endure the tragic events in his life. God can help you overcome those moments that grip your life also.
Are you willing to look past someone else’s short comings in life to give them another chance? Are you willing to lay down your fear of reaping the consequences by asking someone to forgive you of a wrong you have done? In all of these questions, I am praying you seek out the Kingdom of God and watch God move in those areas of your life. We have ALL fallen short in life and we have ALL been a pawn in the enemy’s game to steal, kill, or destroy parts of other people’s lives, no matter whether it was intentional or accidental. Grace covers all!
Time to stop letting fear grip you! Fear is faith in the enemy! Our God is bigger than any mountain in front of our lives. Take a look at your life and ask God to reveal through the Holy Spirit if there are any areas that prevent you from walking out your Destiny or even just walking in complete obedience to God? As God reveals those moments, without going and digging up something that is not there, give them to Jesus. One way to do this is to close your eyes and visualize Jesus standing before you. As you visualize Jesus, hand over that situation or person to Jesus and if you were in the wrong, recognize it and repent of the wrong doing and ask the Holy Spirit to come fill you up in that area with love, peace, and joy overflowing and abundantly. After you feel you have let go of that situation, ask Father God to reveal how He feels about you. You may not be hearing Father God if what you hear is not uplifting, edifying, or encouraging. I believe God has ways of correcting us that turn us away from sin and put our eyes on Him because of the amount of love He has for each one of us. God devises ways to bring back the estranged (2 Samuel 14:14). He is the Father of the prodigal and and is always looking for us to come running back to His arms, not from fear but because of love! Love leads people in areas fear never could. I believe that reverential fear of God is to have such an awe of His love that we want to be obedient, like a child hanging on to Daddy’s leg, wanting to go where He goes because you can’t stand to not be in His presence. Grab ahold of Daddy God and don’t let GO!
Prayer Declaring Victory over Fear
God, I ask that you touch the person reading or listening to this book. I ask that you will touch their hearts and allow them to seek you out greater and greater every day. I pray that they will allow you to search their hearts for any open doors of fear and to be open for you to remove the pain that gives the enemy a foothold in the door. I ask that you would take them deep into their hearts, and that you would pour out your love over each one abundantly to heal the area after the wound is removed. God, I ask for a double portion for every area where the enemy has come to steal, kill, or destroy in their lives and the lives of their loved ones. I ask God, that you would show redemption in their lives that the enemy would have no open doors of fear in their life from this day forward. I ask God, that you would empower them through the Holy Spirit to keep their eyes on Jesus and to know that the power and authority of You, Lord God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who lives inside of them is greater than anything the enemy send at them. May they know that everywhere they put their feet, they claim territory for you, Lord God! Victory in this area of their life is Your victory, Papa God. I thank you, Father God, for protecting them in the name of Jesus! Amen.