Dear sisters, freedom from fear is not just possible, it is biblical! Listen to this episode and learn how to stand on the steadfast promises of God and learn Leslie’s personal battle strategy to wage war on fear and anxiety to rise up and conquer in Jesus’ name.
The Christian great, C.T. Studd, once said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” Join the ranks of those who have been freed from fear to glorify and serve Jesus Christ with the precious life they have been given. In a culture where fear and anxiety have been given too much power in paralyzing Christian women, it is high time we submitted our thoughts, minds, and bodies to the lordship of Jesus Christ and boldly walk forward … smiling at the future!
Leslie Ludy: Hi everyone! It’s Leslie Ludy, host of the Set Apart Girl Podcast: Biblical Encouragement for Women of All Ages. Today we’re going to be talking about something that I know so many Christian women struggle with—overcoming fear. And this is something that I can relate to in a very personal way.
My husband Eric and I had been in ministry for about two years when I started waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks. I remember being absolutely terrified and not really having any good reason for it, but just sitting up in bed in the middle of the night with my heart pounding. I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t relax. I was terrified, and there was really no explanation for it other than the fact that we were under a lot of stress. We were being hit on every side.
It seemed that when we got into ministry it was like we had taken a baseball bat and hit a hornet’s nest, and then realized as the hornets were flying at us that we couldn’t go anywhere because our feet were stuck in concrete; that was kind of what it felt like. We had health challenges. We had financial challenges. We had relational challenges with other people – not with each other necessarily – but very, very difficult things with other people in our lives. And I found myself constantly dreading what was going to happen next.
Proverbs 31 talks about the fact that a godly woman smiles at the future, but I recognized in this season of my life that I was not smiling at the future. In fact, I was actually dreading the future. And when I realized that I started to cry out to God for answers. I said, “Lord, why am I being controlled by fear? All of these stressful things seemed to be too much for me to handle, and suddenly I am just not able to overcome this struggle with constant anxiety.”
Over the next few months as I prayed about this intense struggle in my life, God began to give me a biblical battle plan against fear, and I’d like to share with you what I learned in that season — in a nutshell.
Tactic #1: Learn How to Resist the Enemy
Leslie Ludy: The first important key that God showed me in that time was how to put on the full armor of God, and that’s from Ephesians 6:10-11, where it says, “…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” That was a very eye-opening verse for me because I had not really understood that a lot of the challenges in my life were attacks that were coming from the enemy. I actually had not been resisting the enemy or fighting against his attacks in my life, because I didn’t really recognize they were coming from him.
James 4:7, says, “…submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And that verse helped me understand, that I wasn’t really seeing the difference between what it meant to submit to God, and also resist the devil. I was submitting to everything. Every trial that came into my life, I assumed it was something that God was allowing.That was one of the reasons that I was dreading the future because I had thought, Well, God’s obviously angry with me and displeased with me that He’s bringing all these horrible things into my life. And I began to see that the opposite was actually true – I am stepping out in ministry the enemy has a target on my head. He is attacking me, and I need to learn how to fight back. In blaming all of the harassment in my life on God, I realized I had actually been attributing something to God that was contrary to His nature.
Now it’s true that God disciplines us and refines us, but not in a harsh cruel way that leads to fear and confusion. When God disciplines us and refines us, it brings light and life and hope — not darkness, fear, and death. And that was one of the key ways that I knew that a lot of what was going on in my life was simply attack from the enemy that I hadn’t been resisting.
So this is a really important truth that I want to encourage you with: if you are struggling with attacks on your life, take some time to study the difference between the enemy’s nature and God’s nature. A careful study of these things in Scripture will help you understand which attacks are coming from the enemy, and which trials are being lovingly brought into your life by God. Once you identify which things are coming from the enemy, learn to resist him through the power of Christ’s name. God has given us authority over the enemy. He has commanded us to resist the enemy, and most of us don’t do it because we don’t realize either that we have the authority, or we don’t recognize that the enemy is really attacking us.
I read a very impactful story in the biography of Gladys Aylward of how she put this principle into action. When she was on her way from England to China to become a missionary, she was held against her will in Russia. They were trying to keep her there to become a machinist instead of letting her go to China to become a missionary. She was held in this hotel room, and she couldn’t leave because they had taken her passport. One day this man, the owner of the hotel, tried to force himself into the hotel room. And she stood there very, very small — much smaller and weaker than him — but completely bold and unruffled. And she said, “You are not coming in this room.” He sort of smirked at her, and said, “Well, I own this hotel. I can do whatever I want.” And she said, “No, you cannot. You may not believe in God, but He is here. And between you and me He has placed a barrier. Now go!” And at that moment the man stared at her and then just turned around and left.
That boldness and faith was so impactful to me, and I began to realize this is how God has called me to walk. When the enemy tries to force himself in and say, “I am taking control here.” I am to push back and say, “In the name of Jesus you are not the one in control here. Between you and me, God has placed a barrier.”
So I went through an entire process of learning how to resist the enemy. And one of the keys to really having authority over the enemy was removing willful sin from my life. The story of Nehemiah is really powerful illustration for this because he’s attempting to build a wall around the city of Jerusalem that has been broken down, and there are so many access points for the enemy to get in. There are holes and areas of the walls that are broken down — and as he begins to fortify the wall the enemy makes a lot more noise and comes with a lot more threats, but he just continues to fortify and close up all the access points that the enemy has until there is a secure wall around that city.
That was the process that God led me through. I began to look at my life and say, “Are there any access points for the enemy? Am I allowing things into my life that are giving the enemy power?” And as God brought those things to the surface, I repented of them, and closed up those access points — I suddenly had far greater ability and authority to resist the enemy’s attacks in my life. So putting on the full armor of God and learning how to resist the enemy was the most important first step in my battle against overcoming fear.
Tactic #2: View Trials Through a Heavenly Lens
Leslie Ludy: Secondly, I needed to learn how to have a godly view of trials because being fortified and learning to resist the enemy doesn’t mean that we’re not going to go through difficult things like persecution or false accusation. In fact, Jesus promises that those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (see 2 Timothy 3:12). We will be falsely accused. We will be mistreated for His name’s sake. But we need to see those kinds of trials through a heavenly lens, and that is what can deliver us from the bondage of fear.
A very impactful story to me along these lines was something I heard Corrie ten Boom talk about once. She was saying that when she was a little girl she told her father that she was afraid of suffering for Jesus when she grew up, and she was afraid of losing her loved ones. And he said to her, “Corrie, when you and I go to the train station, when do I give you the ticket?” And she said, “Right before it’s time to get on the train.” And he said, “The same is true when God takes us through trials. When it is time for you to go through any kind of suffering for Christ’s sake, He will give you the grace you need right when you need it.”
That was such an incredible story for me! To realize that we shouldn’t be dreading and fearing the future— because what the enemy wants us to do is look at all the possible trials and sufferings that we might go through without the grace of God to carry us through. Instead, we must realize that God gives us the grace to walk through whatever it is He’s called us to walk through, and yet, He doesn’t give us tomorrow’s grace today.
So rather than worrying about what may happen in the future, we can rest in the knowledge that, first of all, God can turn anything that the enemy means for evil into good in our lives (see Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28). Also, He won’t allow us to walk through trials that we’re not able to handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). And even when we do walk through difficult circumstances we can triumph through every challenge when our hope is in Him (see Psalm 25:3). So go to those Scriptures and really meditate on those truths because they can be such a powerful tool in battling against fear.
Worrying about the what-ifs that may come tomorrow is not only dangerous to our spiritual lives, but it’s also distracting from being fully present for the work that God has called us to today. Elisabeth Elliot wrote in her book, Discipline: the Glad Surrender, “Today’s care, not tomorrow’s, is the responsibility given to us, apportioned in the wisdom of God. Often we neglect the thing assigned for the moment because we are preoccupied with something that is not our business just now. How easy it is to give only half of our attention to someone who needs us…because the other half is focused on a future worry.” I can definitely relate to that; I have been there so many times. Meditating on these principles that I’m sharing with you today has helped me learn how to be fully present in the moment, rather than distracted about what might happen in the future.
Another thing that has really helped me in this area is to read Christian biographies of women who have suffered tremendously for Christ’s sake and yet triumphed through those trials because of the grace of God. Some of my very favorite books are: Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose; If I Perish, by Esther Ahn Kim; The Pastor’s Wife, by Sabina Wurmbrand; and The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. Seeing the courage that these women had through the trials that they went through reminds me to say, If they can triumph through those extreme circumstances because of the grace of God, then I can certainly triumph through any trial that God asks me to walk through.
Tactic #3: Turn to His Word for Wisdom
Leslie Ludy: The third principle that I learned in my battle plan against fear was that I needed to forsake the worldly wisdom of fear. I believe in following sound life principles like working hard in school, taking care of your health, protecting your children, avoiding stupidity … but I’ve also come to realize how often fear can disguise itself as wisdom. But living in fear is not equivalent to living in wisdom. Living in fear is living in direct disobedience to God. He doesn’t just suggest that we fear not; He commands us not to fear.
In Joshua 1:9, He says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” And then in 1 Peter 3:6, there’s a specific command for women who are Christians. In 1 Peter 3:6, there’s a specific command for women who are Christians. Peter says, “…Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.” And then Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25, that we are not to worry about our life.
So instead of taking our cues from the latest studies, the newest books, or the advice of secular magazines, let’s learn how to turn to His Word for wisdom on how to eat, how to practice hospitality, how to approach finances, how to invest in the lives of others, and how to live. Instead of clinging self-protectively to our lives, our health, our finances, and our comforts, we need to ask Him for the grace to completely entrust those areas of our lives to Him because He cares more about all those things than we could ever imagine.
Tactic #4: Use Truth to Conquer Fear
Leslie Ludy: And the fourth principle that he taught me in my battle against fear was learning how to take fearful thoughts captive. There’s a famous quote that says, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” And that’s very similar to what we need to learn when it comes to taking fearful thoughts captive.Those thoughts may present themselves, and even now — though I have been delivered from the bondage of fear — there are still times when fearful ideas, or thoughts, or what-ifs present themselves to me; and how I respond is what makes all the difference. I’ve learned how to call on the grace of God to kick those thoughts out, and not allow them to make a nest in my hair or to take up residence in my soul.
Two things that have really helped me with this is, first of all, to meditate on truth. So the minute a fearful thought comes into my mind I have these battle Scriptures that I immediately turn to, and I quote a Scripture that is in direct contrast to what that fearful thought is trying to tell me. And then, also to learn how to pray for someone when the enemy, or even my own emotions, begin badgering me with fearful thoughts. If I can just get my eyes off myself, and learn how to pray for someone else — all those fearful thoughts melt away.
Leslie Ludy: The battle over fear is one that each of us can win and conquer and triumph through — through the grace and truth of God. God has called us to heroic femininity, and, in fact, the word “virtuous” in Proverbs 31 actually means valiant, mighty, and strong. By His grace we can be set free from the snares of fear and anxiety. We can be filled with supernatural strength and courage, and we can cause the enemy to flee from us. God’s strength can put us on the offensive spiritually instead of always being on the defensive. What we need to do is allow Him to build us strong in Him, and dress us in His holy armor.
And as a final thought I encourage you to remember this, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and power, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Set Apart Girl Podcast. I pray you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!