Fighting the Fear of … What if?!

I’m so thrilled to introduce you to my beautiful friend, Sarah! Sarah and I met through our mural friend Connie. We both were invited to go to The Rabbit Room’s annual conference called Hutchmoot. We quickly became friends. Sarah is a total gem. She is incredibly kind, thoughtful and honestly so beautiful inside and out. I am better for having her in my life. I didn’t know she had her own blog until just a few weeks ago and I asked her to be a guest on my blog and she graciously accepted!

So without further ado , please welcome, Sarah Rooker :)! To learn more about Sarah, I will post her website at the bottom of this blog.

Yeah, I get that. But, what if?”

My clammy palms were clenched in my lap as I precariously perched on the edge of my counselor’s sofa.

But I wasn’t there for my sweaty hands or my pounding heart. I was there because of my lungs. Well, actually, my throat.

Some mix of college woes had brought me to this deceptively comfy couch for the past few months. Roommates. Stress. The future.

But, on that day, there was a greater darkness that threatened to suffocate my thoughts- fear. Fear of death.

It had been five years since I had stopped breathing. Five years since my lungs had begged for mercy as my throat swelled shut.

Back in the room of a Peruvian clinic, my body had succumbed to an anaphylactic reaction of unknown origin. Spanish and English words flew around the room as I struggled to maintain consciousness. The darkness eventually won, and my mind faded to black. But kind and quick hands provided lifesaving measures, and I lived.

An experience like that changes a young woman. For years afterwards, I was lost in the throes of fear. I often quipped, “God gives me my breath. So, I’m good!” While secretly stuffing my epi-pen into my pocket, calculating the fastest route to the hospital, and keeping a finger on my pulse. I wish I was kidding. 

Fear had consumed me. 

Death was not the culprit of my frantic thoughts. The process of dying was. Or so I told myself. 

Because I knew and believed that I would see Jesus at the end of my dying. But I wasn’t so sure about what would happen in the midst of my dying. The thought of again going without the oxygen that my body craved, terrified me.

So, there I sat, propped between throw-pillows, my fears bubbling in the back of my throat. Shortly I would be traversing with professors, professionals, and peers deep into a Guatemalan jungle to provide medical care to indigenous people. 

After my anaphylactic emergency I had continued to travel. To Peru. Haiti. China. With my epi-pen close at hand. But, I had yet to go eight hours over mountains and rivers, deep into the heart of a jungle where plumbing did not yet exist, and satellite phones were spotty at best.

So, what if it happened again? What would I do if my unknown allergy came roaring back and I had to see death again? And what if, instead of just tasting it this time, death won? 

My sweet counselor taught me a very useful coping mechanism. Just stop. Literally. When the swirling thoughts would come, all I had to do was imagine a stop-sign. And it worked. Temporarily.

Loaded with supplies, I timidly (and rather nauseously) rode that bus straight into a Guatemalan jungle. And then, I rode it back out. I had lived. 

However, as it often does, fear continued to sneak up. Poking its poisonous head out at the most inopportune moments.

Often to fight those thoughts of fear we slap a Band-Aid of reassurance over it with a quick statement- “That’s highly improbable. No reason to fear that.” 

So, what do you say to the girl who randomly had a reaction in the middle of a foreign country and tried to see Jesus? The chances of that are so improbable that I should buy a lottery ticket. 

So, when I faced a fear, I could no longer use reason. Unreasonable had found me. And eventually the stop-sign method stopped working. Because stop-signs can’t really slow down a steam engine powered by fear. 

Over and over, my heart and my mind were asking the same question. What happens when my worst fears come true? 

Because they had. Death had found me. And regardless of how many epi-pens I carried around or how cautious I was, I knew that no amount of preparation or caution would prevent my fears from becoming reality.

I sat in that space for a while. Wondering how to calm my racing heart and quiet my screaming fears. Deep and dark. Unsure of how to live life when fear was strangling the very breath from within my lungs. 

But then. Someone found me. Came to me. Rescued me. From every single fear. 

His name is Jesus. 

He came because of love. But, to be honest, I don’t understand why He came to me. He had given me extra years of life that fateful night, and I had squandered much of it away worrying.

So to know more of this man, who came to me despite my entanglement with anxiety, I have been reading of His life.

And lately, Jesus’s words in the book of John have taken my breath away. But this time, it’s a breathlessness that’s filled with hope.

Jesus tells His disciples that His Words would bring them peace and joy. Why? Because He had overcome the world and the day was coming when He would overcome death. 

Not much later, Jesus died. The grave held Him for three days. But then, suddenly, it was empty.

That morning, a woman who had loved Jesus, Mary Magdalene, stood weeping by His empty tomb. But then the living, breathing Jesus approached her. And yet, she did not recognize Him. I imagine her distressed tears blinded her. Her worst fears had come true, after all. Her Lord was dead, and His body was missing.

But was He dead?

As her name left Jesus’s lips, she recognized who He was and fell at His feet. 

Her worst fears had been redeemed. Jesus was not only alive, but He had defeated the very thing that afflicts all of humanity- death. Suddenly, He was not only her Teacher and her Lord, He was Her Savior.

Hallelujah. 

There are days when the thoughts of my worst fears blind me. Tears stream. My throat tightens. But, then, a voice comes. 

“Sarah.” It says. That’s all it has to say.

Lifting my eyes, I see what stands before me. Not a stop-sign.Jesus. 

And suddenly I understand. Even if my worst fears come true. Even if I lose what I love. Even if my heart breaks into a billion pieces. Even if I am abandoned and alone. Even if I have no security.  Even if my throat swells closed forever. There is hope. 

His name is Jesus. 

Sarah’s site: https://thetruthofbreathinghope.wordpress.com/about/
I reached out to Hustle and Thrive after I saw this shirt. I’m stoked to be able to offer a discount on their merchandise.

Discount Code: CHRISTIROCKS
*They made up the code not me*

Fighting the Fear of Living Out A Missionary’s Life

I am excited to introduce you all to my friend Sara! I met her sometime during the year we were at Bible College. It was a small school so eventually you met everyone. I was never very close with Sara, but as the year went on I saw how much she changed and grew. She became determined to live a life worthy of the gospel — no matter what the cost. I have always had a deep admiration for her.

She is the type of person who once she sets her mind to do something, she will do it with her whole heart. It truly is a gift to know her. Sara currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay with her husband and three beautiful children. I know you will enjoy what she has to share today!

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My first year out of high school, a year after becoming a Christian, I was sitting in a mission’s conference. I learned about missionaries all over the world. When I heard that there were people groups who still didn’t have God’s word in their language, I knew God was telling me to go. It wasn’t a hard decision. Just like it wasn’t a hard decision to leave the states 5 years later with my new-ish family and head to Montevideo, Uruguay to help form a new church in the capital city. The packing and support raising and leaving were difficult, but the call was clear. And we were excited and nervous, not fearful.

The first few months in Uruguay were fun and adventurous. We were like honeymooners in our new life, learning so much and experiencing so many new things. But as we settled in and started the hard work of language learning, and actually living (not vacationing) in a culture not our own. I was surprised by the fears that arose within me. We weren’t being persecuted or even living in a dangerous country. But, before I knew it, my zeal and love for communicating the gospel, turned into fears about my ability and adequacy. My linguistic, and cultural weaknesses became a stumbling block for my faith.

Should I speak about Him if I can’t communicate His message clearly in my host language? What if I share the gospel and they don’t understand me (literally)? Does my life really reflect His love under all the stress our family is experiencing in a new country and culture? What if I mess up and offend them? What if I share a truth poorly and they misunderstand who God is and what He has done?

While many of these wonderings were legitimate concerns for wanting to respect and love the people around us. They also revealed an even greater fear that had been lying dormant in my heart for a long time. Could God really use me and all my weakness on the mission field?

The truth is, these fears have never left me. We are four years in and these same doubts are sometimes my daily battlegrounds. The fear of not being enough is not just a fear for the mission field. I know the same fear in my life as a homeschooling mother, as a friend, as a wife. It is a fear that touches the core of who I am and what I was created to do. It is the question of identity and it pervades every area of Christian life.

Thankfully God answers this question thoroughly in His word and through the very message of the Gospel. In a society where we are constantly being told that we are enough. Or, that we need to just believe we are enough, the truth of it all is that we aren’t enough. We see our own insufficiency and it bothers us. I do not speak Spanish well enough. I am not patient enough with my kids. Our family does not have it together enough. I don’t know enough theology to answer every doubt or opposition to the gospel. And, I do not have enough wisdom to be a perfect mother or missionary. I am not enough. And trying to convince myself that I am is looking only toward the flesh and not toward the Savior. The answer will and should always be no. But I don’t stop there. The gospel continues with transforming hope.

When we enter into a relationship with Christ, we receive a new identity, old things are washed away and we are made new. Our not enough on our own becomes perfectly enough in Christ. At the Cross, Jesus took our shortcomings, sins, and fears and conquered them. But He was raised and us with Him. His resurrection clothed us in His righteousness and made us new vessels to be used by Him. In Him our weakness becomes strength and all our shortcomings become purposeful. And we have the surety of His Spirit who offers wisdom and sweet companionship along the journey. And so as Christians we learn to look to Him. Is HE enough to conquer death and sin? Is He enough to take a sinner and make her new? Is He enough to work through weakness and pain and difficulty and suffering? Is He enough to use my poor language skills to shine the light in the darkness? Is He enough to use my mite to bring life to a dead heart? The answer is always, and unconditionally, a resounding yes because all things are yes in Christ.

When fears arise within us we are never asked to suck it up and pretend we have it all together. Nor fake a smile to make it look like all is well. Instead, our fears tell us that we are lacking intimacy with our Father. To embrace and abide in the message of the gospel is to have true intimacy with our Father, and in true intimacy we find safety. John 15:1-11 is a powerful reminder to us in fear. It confronts our: ‘I can do nothing,’ with the glorious hope of the gospel:

“You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me he can do nothing. Just as the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Abide in my love…these things I have spoken to You, that My joy may be complete.”

He abides in us! We are made clean! We are loved! And we will bear fruit! We have so much in Him. But how do we abide? We believe the gospel and walk in it. We reject lies, and we embrace the truth. We walk with Him, talk with Him, and enjoy Him. We spend time in prayer and fasting. We study His word and meditate on and memorize it. And when we do we will find that we bear much fruit, even in our weakness and inadequacy. Our hearts will fill with joy, He will be glorified in us and will use us to minister to others.

As we abide we can say with David:

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed…Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” Psalm 34

So, taste and see! Abide, friend. Take refuge in Him. Seek Him. Fear Him. And watch Him take away your fears and turn your lack into overflowing fruit for His name and kingdom.