Prisoner of Fear

“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather
of power and love and self-control.” -2 Timothy 1:7
Although nothing (“neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities…nor powers, etc”. –Romans 8:38)
can separate us from the
love of Christ, there is one thing that inhibits us from fully embracing his
love:  fear.  Fear of the unknown (held back by unanswered
questions), fear of what others will think of us, fear of not being counted
worthy, fear of giving up control (because “my life is fine just as it is”),
and fear of evil, darkness, and scary movies. 
Fear—meaning terror, anxiety, distress, panic, and cowardice—is the
antagonist of Faith.  Faith—the father of
poise, assurance, comfort, declaration, and Hope—gives us authority over any
spirit that tempts us into a state of timidity, a state in which Satan labors
to keep us captive.
last week’s events, I was delivered and protected from this fearful state
through all of the prayers I received from you, my blog-readers and faithful
warriors.  There were nights that I was
afraid to turn off the light before bed, afraid to sleep alone.  There were moments when I looked into Maria’s
eyes and my stomach became like my flip flops. 
But a dear friend reminded me of Michael and my vision I had while in
Mozambique.  “After this victory, Satan
will still work to put fear behind your eyes at any chance he gets.  Remember you have a God who sent you St.
Michael the Archangel to fight for you. 
He will be sitting on your bedpost and a dispatch of angels will be on
guard at the gate of the house.  I will
pray that you sense nothing but their holy presence tonight.” 
Because I felt overwhelmed by
the love and prayers from people all over the world, I overcame this pressing
presence of fear.  In doing so, Maria
gained strength and hope day by day. 
Though she’s been set free from demonic forces, she is still a prisoner
of fear; she now believes in Christ’s power over her, but she doesn’t yet
understand she has the ability to exercise that same authority.  In 1 John 4:4 it reminds us, “You belong to
God, children, and you have conquered them (spirit of antichrists), for the one
who is in you (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world.” 
She’s learning about this
greatness day by day.  In fact, she won’t
leave my side.  I really do feel like
she’s my disciple, following me everywhere I go (even when it gets a little
annoying, but I don’t tell her that). 
She won’t go to bed until I tuck her in and read Scripture with
her.  We’re actually reading through 1
John together, which has been really uplifting for her and she’s starting to
gain strength.  For the first two days,
it was by my plan to read and pray before bed. 
But for the past couple days, she is the one coming to me, making sure
we can pray together.  Just yesterday, I
told the girls I would be gone Monday and Tuesday night for a personal retreat,
but right before I left Maria came to me crying.  She’s afraid to leave my presence so I had to
explain to her that it’s not me who protects her.  I’m just the one exercising the authority of
Christ over her, but He is the one protecting and comforting her.  I reminded her that she has that same
authority.  I also explained that Kiley
would be staying overnight, and I left my iPod with her because she says the
demons don’t come when she’s listening to “the gospel singers.” So, although,
the victory is great in her life, she still has a long ways to go and still
needs to be delivered from her state of fear.
Please don’t stop praying for
her and us.
While satan wasn’t able to
captivate me with his tactics of fear, I was shaken up by another event that
occurred only two days after Maria was released from the demons. 
I watched Spiderman the other
night, and the evil (Green Goblin and Doc Oc) reminded me of satan’s tactics as
well.  Just as the Green Goblin knew how
to get to Peter Parker (attacking his heart), satan knows what would break my
heart as well. 
For the past seven years, I’ve
spent my heart on the one that everyone else had cast aside—the one that people
said wasn’t worth it, the one that people said would only disappoint me, the
one that would take one step forward and two steps back, the one that God
demanded that I show grace to, the one that finds it hard to love herself.  Tenele. She’s the one who in the past few
months has made the most miraculous strides of faith I’ve ever seen.  She’s the one whom God intends to use to set
her nation free, for this is a vision not only given to me, but also to the
director of Teen Challenge and to a prophetess from their partner church that
knows nothing of Tenele’s past.  She’s
the one who prayed fervently over me the other week when I was really
discouraged and stressed.  She’s the one
who cried out to God in journal entry after journal entry, praising Him for how
He has delivered her and expressing her excitement to share her testimony with
others at the end of the year.  The
program Tenele is in lasts an entire year. 
Yes, it’s difficult and she gets lonely and sometimes wonders if she can
make it the whole year.  But her faith
has been her cornerstone; she has been a rock, and even the director has talked
about how absolutely impressed she is with Tenele. She told me, “I had this
vision that Tenele would run her own project like this someday.” 
On Thursday of last week, I came
home after sunset to settle into my room, but Gogo grabbed my attention.  “Tenele,” she looked at me with sad
eyes.  “She’s gone.”
Gogo doesn’t know much English,
but her message was very clear.  “She
call me and say left project.”
I wasn’t completely shocked, as
the Saturday before Tenele had mentioned her wanting to leave but I talked her
out of it.  I was, though, completely
shattered.  Tenele wasn’t just walking
away from the project, she was walking away from God, from me, from her
children, from her future.  By leaving,
she canceled out all the progress she had made the past four months since she
began the program.  Worse, she was going
all the back to stage one, Mangwaneni, where I had found her seven years ago.
The heartache is too great to
explain.  The tears came through sobs
I’ve never heard come from myself before. 
I was so discouraged and upset. 
“Can I just get a break?!” I
yelled at no one.  It gets too hard being
strong for 15 individual girls with 15 different problems, let alone worrying
about my own.  So I broke. 
It has now been five days since
Tenele left, and I still haven’t heard a word from her.  She hasn’t called to explain what happened,
she hasn’t written a note, she hasn’t even come to see her kids. 
She, too, is a prisoner of fear.
Though the heartache is great
and the confusion is constant, I refuse to remain discouraged.  My friend Jenny said, “Well, that’s Hosea’s
heart, isn’t it?  She ran away, back to a
dark place from which she was delivered, just like in the book Redeeming
  Don’t give up.”  My God of Hope is the only God, the only
Savior, the only Faithful one.  I believe
in His plan for Tenele’s life, and I know it will come to pass in the visions
He’s given us.  It may not be in my
timing, but it will be done.  And that is
Truth that satan cannot take away from me. 
In the moment, I wanted to stop loving Tenele, I wanted to give up on
her, I sometimes still do…but I can’t and I won’t.  Because faith is stronger.  Because hope is greater.  Because forgiveness is deeper.  Because “perfect love drives out all fear.”
(1 John 4:18)  But I can’t do it
alone.  Help me love her when I am too

As the battles continue, I know
that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil, for you are with me.” –Psalm 23:4        

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