As she sat there, all the gruesome details unfolded in Maria Furlough’s mind. She was 18 weeks pregnant and the doctors told her that her baby would not survive long after birth. Maria would have only minutes with her son. Maria’s fears unfolded before her as the reality of her next coming months hit her like a ton of bricks. How could she possibly survive this? How could her family survive? The fear painted picture told her that the pregnant months before her would hold nothing but torment, pain, suffering, and death. But fear lies. It always lies. The story that God wrote in Maria during her months of carrying Gideon was not one of death, it was one of a new peace filled existence. Peace not dependent upon circumstance, but solely on the fear fighting power of the Holy Spirit within her. In Breaking the Fear Cycle, Maria shares with us all the tools she used to battle her own fears and her deepest prayer is that this book will minister to ours too. It’s a grace to welcome her to the farm’s front porch today…
Every time I give in to a fearful thought, I am taking a bite from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil all over again.
I am deciding, like Adam and Eve, that God’s reign on my future is not good enough for me; no, I need to try to tackle it myself.
Trouble is, my brain was not created for such a thing.
In our finite minds, we cannot comprehend the complexities of our futures. We can calculate all the what-ifs and the whys, and so we fear.
We fear because ultimately we wonder if we can trust God to do His job well.
Would you be willing, with me, to give God His job back?
Would you be willing to try, to take one brave and faithful step toward fearless living, by taking captive any and all thoughts that fabricate a future we do not yet know will come true?
Will you try?
This is no small thing. I know this because I lived it.
I woke up every morning and waged war against my fearful future telling. To have any hope of real change, I had to come up with a battle plan.
This is not just one of those “yeah, I’ll try to get better at that” type things.
No, this is a “I must have a plan of what to do when my brain starts getting on the fear train into the future” type thing.
Step 1: Identify a future fear the second it pops into your mind.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Is this thought about something I know to be true right now, or am I trying to tell the future?
Is this fearful thought based on something that is true or is it based on something that I am imagining could come true?
Call it out. Immediately identify a future-based fear when it comes, and stop it dead in its tracks.
Step 2: Talk to yourself.
Sounds funny I know, but try it.
Say it out loud, talk to yourself, write it down, do whatever you need to do to get your brain back into the moment.
Make yourself take a pause in your thinking. Try deep breaths, prayers, anything!
Step 3: Ask yourself this question, What do I know to be true right now?
Ask yourself, and then answer it.
Your answer could sound something like this: “What I know to be true right now is that this potential fear is not a reality, it is an idea.”
Then list out facts about your day, things that actually took place.
Step 4: Focus on blessings.
Combat negative with positive.
List all the blessings, big and small, you have in your life right at this moment.
Focus on them, go through them, smile about them, thank God for them. Try going through the “ABCs of Blessings,” naming a blessing in your life for every single letter of the alphabet.
Step 5: Name God’s truths.
There is power in God’s Word.
It is alive, it is sharp, and it is helpful (Heb. 4:12).
Reciting Scripture helps. It isn’t one of those things you have to feel or believe. You simply have to do it.
The power is in the promises, and they simply need to be uttered.
So utter them over and over and do not stop until you notice a shift in your peacefulness.
Following are some of the verses that helped me. I wrote them on my hand, taped them on my bathroom mirror, posted them on my kitchen cabinets.
I put them up everywhere and anywhere so that when I needed them, they were easily accessible.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34)
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. (Prov. 3:25–26)
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (Prov. 31:26)
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. (Isa. 26:3–4)
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:1–3)
When you picture the future, do you see God there?
Too often, when our brains are fixed on the worst-case scenario, we don’t imagine God meeting us there.
Surely that (whatever “that” is for you) would be so terrible that even God could not reach me in that place.
As a result, it’s tempting to convince ourselves that clearly we know what is best.
Our logic and analysis lead us to believe that we, and we alone, know the best, nicest, and loveliest plan for the future.
The truth is, we take God right out of the picture.
Would you venture into some time alone with God? Would you to sit with Him for a minute?
Picture your days unfolding before you—the good, the bad, the feared, the coveted—and maybe even let the planning of your own future unfold on paper and see what comes out.
Are you so convinced that your way is the only way?
Do you see happiness if, and only if, God answers your prayers exactly the way you want Him to?
Sit with Him awhile. Give Him your plans and ask Him if you are holding too tightly to the future you have envisioned for yourself.
Search your heart to discover whether you have made future planning your job instead of God’s job.
May God’s mighty and powerful peace meet with you as venture to give God your future, once and for all.
Maria Furlough is a proud Momma of 4 kiddos on earth and one living in the arms of Jesus. Her greatest joy includes loving on women with the comfort and the power that God has given to her. Maria has been writing Bible studies for over ten years and now enjoys shepherding women at her home church in Huntersville, North Carolina.
In her new book, Breaking the Fear Cycle, Maria shares that there is a way to live free from fear. Using her own story as a catalyst she shows readers how to overcome fear for good. She shows readers how step out in bravery and name their fears out loud, choose to bring them to God first before acting on them, and to trust God to be the only planner of our future. She shows what it looks like to finally give God full control over our lives and choose His sovereignty over our own ability. We can break the cycle of fear, grow through our suffering, and finally learn how to fully rely on God’s promises of protection and peace.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]