As a former fear-er saved by God’s tender love and grace, Susie Davis has a passion for helping people find freedom and joy in their everyday life — you can feel it from the first moment you meet her. She exudes the freedom of joy. When she’s not at the barn or in the kitchen, you’re likely to find her encouraging fellow fear-ers or writing about uncovering joy in the everyday grace gifts like the pink geraniums and yellow finches that fill her backyard or even her little black cat, Madeleine. It’s a humbling grace to welcome my friend Susie and real hope to the farm’s front porch today…
At twelve years old I met Jesus.
I adored Him…everything about Him.
When I read the Bible and it said God had good plans for me, I believed every word.
Then at fourteen I saw my teacher murdered.
It was May, the end of junior high school, when a fellow classmate—a neighbor boy—walked into our classroom with a rifle and shot and killed my teacher.
God may have saved me, but the experience of witnessing a murder crashed in unexpectedly and made me afraid.
So afraid that I felt as if I had lost God somehow—or, even worse, that He had lost me. At fourteen I was forced to try to come to terms with this big, bad world we live in, and I was very fearful.
I loved God — but I did not trust Him.
Trusting God meant things might go wrong again — and I couldn’t afford to let that happen because then I would feel all the pain again. The pain of bad things.
And with the pain the lingering question, why do bad things happen?
I spent half my life being afraid, and by that I mean scared to stay alone in my house at night. As a teenager, I was so freaked out by being alone I would hide under the kitchen counter with the phone on my ear, anxious about things in the dark and terrified by the neighbor boy still living up the street.
The weird thing about being afraid for a long time is that you get comfortable with it.
And before long you start to believe fear itself keeps you safe and keeps bad things from happening. I felt like fear protected me. As long as I stayed vigilant, cautious, and wary, nothing bad would happen.
Instead of depending on God for protection, I held tight to something destructive.
Like an addict, I depended on something harmful and dangerous. Something that became a tool for the Enemy to push me in the corner, keep me under the counter, beat me down.
I believed in fear.
I felt hopeless trying to live with a Savior who didn’t seem to keep me safe from the bad things and was completely worn-out trying to take care of myself.
Over the years my fears spiraled out of control. I was afraid for my children. I became the mom who hypermanaged, helicopter-parented, and overthought every little thing, because fear told me that was my job.
I obsessed about my husband’s safety because fear lived by my side, whispering horrible things about the worst-case scenarios.
If you had looked into my life, you would have seen me peeking in the closets for bad guys, double- and triple-checking doors at night, obsessively washing my toddlers’ hands.
Fear infects your life in weird ways when you believe in it, always think on it, worship it. You become a fear-er.
Only I didn’t think I was a fear-er. I thought I was c-a-r-e-f-u-l. I thought I was being a good mom. A caring wife. But really, I was afraid. I couldn’t see how fear changed me—and how the Enemy took advantage of me.
“Here begins the Good News about Jesus…”
But God was not content to let me sit scared to death, scrunched under the counter, cowering, while the Enemy pounded me with more and more fear.
Eventually I let God rescue me. And He wants to rescue you too.
God does not want you stuck under the counter or wherever the Enemy has you holed up.
God wants you free.
And He wants you with Him…looking to Him, trusting Him, finding security in Him.
Creatively and tenderly, He cares for you. I pray you can learn to live unafraid in the midst of an often terrible and terrifying world because you know and believe in a real way that God has good plans for your life.
And because, deep down, you are able to trust God. I pray you are able to know He loves you too much to ever abandon you in any situation. Not then, not now, not ever.
Until the age of fourteen, I had an expectation of God. I thought if Jesus was my hero, He would shield me from all the bad things. Or that, at the least, bad things wouldn’t impact me the same way they did people who didn’t love God.
At a very young age, I saw God all wrong.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen.
Bad, sad, horrible things will happen regardless of whether you’re a Christian or not. And bad, sad, horrible things will hurt with equal intensity.
Being a Christian does not safeguard you from a world of hurt. Jesus Himself promises trials and sorrows. And Jesus Himself hurt.
So the big question is, what then is the value of having a relationship with God? If we’re all going to get hit with the same awfulness, all feel the same dark pain, why be in a relationship with God at all?
I guess the answer would be, so you can be in a relationship with God.
We’re all so interested in how things affect us that many times we miss the main thing: God. The Creator of the universe. The Creator of you and me.
He loves us. He wants us. He will stop at nothing to get us.
The problem is, we let the bigness of grief and pain overwhelm the obvious: God loves.
I hate this about myself, but sometimes I think I’m the center of my universe. I forget the whole idea of God as Maker and me as just me. I forget there’s an actual structure in this seemingly chaotic life and God is at the tiptop of it. I forget to marvel in everyday amazement over the idea that God loves me.
God loves you too.
No matter where you are in your life and no matter where you are with God, He loves you.
But He’s also ridiculously protective of you.
He’s not content to let fear divide your heart in two and distract you from wholehearted affection.
God wants both our love and our trust.
And He’ll stop at nothing to get them.
Susie Davis is an author, blogger, speaker and church founder. She has written five books, the most recent is Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World. Susie and her husband Will Davis Jr., have three nearly grown children that keep them laughing and humble. Together, Will and Susie founded Austin Christian Fellowship, where they spend their weekends with some of the most fabulous people in town.
As Susie shows us, it is possible to break fear’s grasp on our lives. We can be aware of the terrible without forgetting the beautiful. We can look up with joy and realize the remarkable truth: Jesus wants to take our fear and give us, in its place, true peace. Walk this liberating journey with her and learn what it means to live unafraid. Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World is a needed, must read.
[ Our humble thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers for their partnership of today’s devotion ]