Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fear Not (Part Three)

You may want to read part two before reading the following post:

Enveloped by the empty sanctuary, the young girl sat in the chair selected, waiting anxiously for the doors to open. Questions reverberated through her mind at such a rapid pace it proved difficult to follow each cohesive thought. Who was the man who led her to this place? Where did he go? Why did he choose her?

About ten minutes later, the doors of the church opened to the eager crowd. The young girl curiously observed the other participants file into the aisles until all the seats filled, joy and laughter accompanying each believer as they settled in with friends.

Travis Cottrell and his praise team took the stage, signaling the beginning of the night’s events. From her front row seat, the young girl enviously watched the team sing with sincere, worshipful hearts, wondering if she would ever share a similar heart and desire for Christ.

The praise and worship in song continued, and the young girl observed a woman walking towards her from behind the stage. As the woman stepped closer, it became evident that it was Beth Moore, and it appeared as though she were striding purposefully towards the young girl.

Beth Moore smiled at her as she neared, and what took place next left the girl speechless.

Immediately following behind Beth Moore was the man who approached her in the crowd. It was the same man that led her into the sanctuary that held two thousand, the same man that offered a seat of her choosing.

There were two empty seats directly next to the girl that earlier were occupied. Beth Moore took the seat two places down, and the man took the seat beside the young girl.

The man was Beth Moore’s bodyguard.

The bodyguard did not know the identity of the young girl, or how much tragedy she had suffered. He never spoke to the girl during the remainder of the event, or glanced her way, but his presence provided a sense of security and reassuring safety the girl had not experienced since the horrific morning that changed everything.

God placed the bodyguard next to this spiritually damaged and heartbroken girl to demonstrate that she no longer had to fear. It was a physical reminder that He had never left her side, not during the shooting that claimed the innocent faithful, not during the years of struggle that threatened to claim her faith, and not now, as she wholeheartedly sought to reclaim what had always been hers. He would always be there.

That night the young girl prayed with her eyes closed for the first time in ten years. She was able to sing joyfully and with a heart full of praise, and participated in unabashed worship absent of any fear. She was finally safe.

Listening to this young girl share her story, I was overcome with the realization that it was meant for me to hear. Through the encounter on the plane, the shared taxi ride, and the placement of our seats together on two occasions, I knew our meeting wasn’t a coincidence.

Underlying fear permeated almost every aspect of this young girl’s life and with good reason. Fear comes in many forms, some more dramatic and painful than others, but we all will experience its devastating and paralyzing effect at some point. Those fears that have come in and out of my life aren’t nearly as comprehensive as those experienced by my new friend, but they all have impacted me negatively when I thought they were under my control.

What if I were to approach God as though safe, in the same way the young girl did when protected by the bodyguard? What if you did the same? What if we released our fears to Him in such a way it would allow us to move forward through our circumstances in a manner that suggested to others that we believe God is able to overcome all that makes us scared, all that produces anxiety, angst, and immobilization?

What if we decided to fully trust him with our fears when:
....we leave the doctor’s office with the devastating news of serious illness?
.... a loved one leaves us behind with a heart that now only knows bitterness?
.... the bills outweigh the income, and the worry outweighs the joy?
.... a rebellious child disappoints our expectations but delights the crowd that influences it?
.... we desire to step boldly forward when the accepted, popular opinion is to stay put?

While we don’t have a physical bodyguard beside us to convince us of God’s presence, the very assurances offered to the young girl are available just the same. God sat right next to her that night just like He promises to always sit right next to you.

Do not fear.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)


Not too old to learn said...

thank you

deann said...

I have waited all day for the conclusion to this wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us. It's so refreshing to be reminded that we really have nothing to fear as long as we have Him. Thanks again. DeAnn

acassidy said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing!

man of constant sorrow said...

Joni-This is absolutely awesome. Thanks for sharing it. I have anxiously awaited everyday to sit down in the evening to catch the next segment. The content of this life event is miraculous in itself...But then you wrapped it up in beautifully written prose. What a lesson to be learned from this experience. It seems that lately I have allowed myself to be bogged down with circumstances that can in and of themselves be very fearful. But just like this young girls life experiences have shown us, "God is able to overcome all that makes us scared, all that produces anxiety, angst, and immobilization." Thanks for the reminder...I needed that.

Mom of Eleven said...

Thank you, Thank you for sharing the story in written form. I loved her story and appreciate your thoughtful account of it. Thanks for sharing.

Tracy said...

thanks... I needed to hear that right now

Emmy said...

I am crying and I know the story!

Joni you are a beautiful writer! I loved how you tied it all together... I needed that reminder today!

Thanks- Emmy : )

Meritt said...

Girl - you wrote that one like you were writing for a publication! :)

Good for you. Excellent post!

laurie said...

Worth the wait. . . WOW!!

JMom said...

Awesome! Now I want to know who it is...Is she a blogger? Did she ever share her story with Beth at SF?

Lauren said...

Awesome...thank you.