“Hurry, load ‘em up!” I hollered over the wind as my young niece and nephew brought their horses to the trailer.
The temperature had dropped as the wind seemed to come up instantaneously. Everyone at the rodeo was desperately trying to get horses and kids rounded up and to safety.
I was just out of high school and was going to the town an hour north of us each week for the women’s and kids’ rodeo. It was a fun evening to look forward to each week. It also gave me an excuse to have my niece and nephew come stay with me for the weekends. It was also a way of getting them out of the situation they were in even if was just temporary.
I had always been a completely fearless person. Often not even exercising enough self caution to prevent way to many injuries to count. Then that storm rolled in and changed everything.
“Grab your ropes and get in the pickup,” I said hurriedly, “I think we can get ahead of this storm and outrun it.”
The sirens were going off in town and I knew there must have been a tornado warning issued. It was so dark the only way to see any of the sky was as the lightning sparked and illuminated it all. As far as I could tell there was nothing on the horizon so plenty of time to get out of there before it got worse.
My niece was concerned but had spent her whole young life with me and snuggled up beside me trusting my decision. It was short lived!
As we rounded the corner out of town the rain started coming down in sheets followed by hail pelting us in full force. Visibility was almost nonexistent at that point.
My poor niece was terrified. I was fighting my own fear welling up in me to calm her down. I was just trying to stay on the road as we inched along.
It came up so fast I didn’t have any time to react. I never saw it coming just the wind hitting us with such ferocity that fear completely overtook me.
The next thing I knew we were being picked up off the road and moved like a little matchbox car to the opposite ditch.
Something died inside of me that night. That fearless girl who believed she was completely invincible realized her own mortality. Fear had set in and the devil was trying to destroy me in new ways since his old ones had failed.
If there was so much as a cloud in the sky while I was outside, my heart would race uncontrollably. I would make every excuse in the world to those around me on why we needed to immediately go in the house. As rancher’s we work outside for a living and this presented a huge problem over the years.
It was especially bad if we were in a vehicle and crippling if I was the one driving.
It may sound like a logical fear but unfortunately it was a foothold for satan to gain ground in other areas of my life. New fears started growing and morphed into daily worries. I became the epitome of a worry wart.
One day, many years later, I was driving home by myself pulling a camper when a storm rolled in fast. My heart felt like it was going to explode it was racing so fast. Rationale was fleeing. Then I remembered a verse I’d chosen to repeat while I was in labor with my first son.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
I started repeating it to myself as a way to calm my heart. Also to help turn my focus back on Jesus who had always wanted to heal me of this fear.
The fear started to subside. I was fighting back finally and the devil knew he was in trouble. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I was taking ground back that had been stolen all those years earlier.
You know what, the storm didn’t subside. The wind blew hard and it rained and hailed on me for a good part of the way home. It was dark and scary on the outside but my heart had found firm footing inside and there was no way I was going back!
I love what Kelly Balarie reminds us in her book Fear Fighting – “What didn’t kill you yesterday has no real power to kill you today.”
Unfortunately, I had let fear rob me of the power Jesus had made available to me all those years. So, I exhaled all the fear and inhaled life back into those dry bones.
Does that mean fear never tries to rear it’s ugly head in my life? Of course not, but now I know that where the Spirit is – there is freedom!
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