Walking home from a friend’s house one night, I decided to cut through the university campus so I could crawl in bed at a half-decent hour. The cold on my cheeks & the wind through my sweatshirt made me walk a little faster, hoping to get warm sooner.
Then it hit me.
A fist to the side of my head and weight pushing me to the side of the building. Bushes caught on my workout pants, snagging threads and poking my legs. Icy stone against my nose and forehead. All I could feel initially was pulling, tugging, twisting, and cold air sweeping through new openings in my clothes. Grunting and unintelligible words that I couldn’t register were all that I heard.
Finally, my brain focused on what was happening and I found my footing. All that training from years of martial arts finally came into my brain. I don’t remember exactly the process for how it happened, but I was able to thwart my attacker’s efforts.
I twisted and turned, punched and kicked but I don’t remember any noise coming from my mouth. When I finally had him pinned to the ground with my knee in one shoulder blade and his free hand turned toward to sky so he couldn’t get leverage to move, I looked up to see two more people running toward me.
At first, I dreaded the moment when they would reach me, but the closer they got I realized that one of them was on a cell phone and the other one was screaming for help. A few minutes later the police arrived, or campus police? It doesn’t matter.
All this contributed to one of the longest nights of my life, and one that affected me for years later in bringing fear to the surface. At least a decade of fearing walking alone by myself at night. At least a decade of intermittent nightmares and jumpiness when people touch me at any time of day. Granted, the guy who went to jail for assault was a wanna-be gang banger who was trying to fulfill his initiation requirement to rape a girl in order to prove himself gang-worthy, but that didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that I was attacked. Out of the blue and without any provocation, someone (in their sin) flooded my life with a fear that lasted decades. I became a master of hiding my fear from other people, no one knew what was really going on within me much of the time. Apparently I’m a great actress.
However, when no one else could touch this fear and no one knew why I would run from relationships/friendships when vulnerability started to be required of me, God confronted it within me. It is here that God gave me my “life verse”, or the verse in which I always recite and cling to His promises. I trust that He is faithful and will fulfill those promises.
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10
As soon as I read this verse, God calmed my heart and caused me simply rest here. For months, this was the only verse I would read. I memorized this verse and whenever I felt fearful for anything, this verse came to mind. (A very strong reason I advocate Scripture memorization!). It is this verse, my life verse, that I rely on and recite frequently throughout my life and multiple times a week.
I have personally seen transformation. He has renewed my spirit. God has brought freedom to my fearful life.
So Jesus said…, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:31-32
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
— John 14:6
While I still battle fear from time to time, I have found freedom in Christ. By pursuing Him and spending time reading and memorizing Scripture that addressed my issue of fear, I am no longer a slave to that hindrance. He has broken that bondage and set me free.
I can recite all the verses about God not giving us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and resting in Jesus as the mediator for us in our every need (1 Timothy 2:5). God has proven Himself faithful in tangible ways through the Words that He utters to me in my greatest need. I am so grateful for being washed in the Word!
If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.” — Proverbs 3:24-26