Fear or freedom? The answer seems easy – freedom; but yet so many times we tip over into fear. Looking back, I’ve tended towards the ‘fear’ end of the scale and recently this was highlighted when my dislike of flying became almost disabling.
Flying has never been something that I have enjoyed. I am that person who tries to identify every noise on the plane to try and feel in control, and stays awake just in case the pilot needs some help! This fear hadn’t started from a frightening flight, but the backthrust of the engines having landed. Yet that one unexpected incident allowed fear to take root in my heart. For years, I had faithfully watered my fear, speaking about flying in a negative and fearful way. The more negative I became, the more my anxiety increased. My daughter Bex was studying abroad and so Mike and I had planned several trips to visit her. On our way back from Madrid, there came a point when all I wanted was to get off the plane – not a good idea at 36,000 feet! All my usual distraction techniques just wouldn’t work and I felt completely terrified.
At that point, it was clear to me that while flying was the situation that had brought things to a head, I knew I could become fearful and worry about so many situations. I was a ‘worst case scenario’ person, feeling slightly proud that I could identify so many things that might go wrong, and had solutions for all of them! I also realised that over the years I had spoken negative words over myself – I was an ‘Eeyore’, a ‘control freak’, and these fed into my worry and fear.
I knew that I needed to be set free, and that going for prayer ministry was the way forward. During prayer, I realised that I needed to trust God – for me, for my family, for the future – and believe that He has good things for me, and that He is with me in every situation. I could see that difficult situations I had encountered in the past had coloured my view of the future.
Following prayer ministry, we were off seeing Bex again. Prior to going, I had asked people to pray for me. As we were waiting in Schiphol airport for my connecting flight, I received an email from one of my friends who had a word about ‘eagle’s wings’ and that God was completely trustworthy. I was encouraged by this, and as we were waiting to take off I saw a bird hovering beside our plane. For the whole time, we were waiting for our take off slot, the bird stayed and just before we took off, it flew away. As we thundered down the runway, I felt such an assurance that God was with me and that I could completely trust Him.
Since then I’ve reflected on life and I’ve realised that each day I have a choice to make – to live trusting God, or to worry about things over which I have no control. Some days it’s a struggle but on those days, I know that I have choice to make – I can put my trust in God, who loves me and cares for me more than I can ever imagine or I can give in to the fearful thoughts.
‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:38-39
In those two verses Paul mentions several times that nothing can separate us from God’s love, and I find immense reassurance that this is the same God who watches over me every day. I am always very struck by the Corrie ten Boom quote – ‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’ If she could say that in the most horrendous of circumstances, in a concentration camp, then I too can entrust my future to a God who loves me so completely. To me, this seems particularly fitting, when we live in a volatile world with daily uncertainties, political turmoil and ever changing circumstances which are broadcast 24/7 by news outlets and our Facebook feeds. This can seep into our thoughts and have more impact than we often realise. However, difficult as it may be, and while sometimes fear can still be a factor, I now cling to these promises which provide stability as things around me change. This is now my fight response rather than freezing and let fear take control.
Alison Elder is a part of the Gilc Park site where she leads a small group. She is married to Mike and they have 3 grown up children. She works as an OT at the Children’s Hospital and in her spare time she likes running 10ks, cycling, anything craft and spending time with her family and friends.