Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Belgium...on a personal note.

Yesterday I shared with you the day to day movement of the New Beginnings Ministry. I shared with you where we went...what we did...even what we ate. I shared with you the outer layer of my trip to Belgium. What you would have seen had you been a fly on the wall watching us buzz all over Belgium doing our best to obey God. But today I want to share with you about the inner layer...what happened behind the scenes in my mind and in my heart during the trip as well as the days and days and days leading up to it. God is not one-dimensional. He is a multi-tasker to the fullest. What may seem like a trip to Europe...a visit to a church...or a simple sharing of a testimony...becomes much, much more when placed in the hands of God.

This whole Belgium thing became a reality about a year ago. I had almost a whole year to prepare...mentally, spiritually, financially. Our team met regularly, making plans, working on fund-raising, reminding about Passports and airline tickets, talking about what to pack and what to wear and what to expect. We even met for a french lesson that turned out to be quite humorous! We met regularly to touch base with one another and to make sure we were all on the same page. And we were. We were all on the same mission...each of us bringing something unique to the table. We were a team. But we were also individuals. I was an individual. And God had big things in store for me, too. And as I look back over this last year I can see those things...clearly. And I am amazed...and grateful...and blown away by His goodness.

Fear. Most of my life I have operated on fear. I was a nervous little girl. My stomach always hurt whenever there was a situation I was uncomfortable with. And I was uncomfortable with a lot of situations. This fear carried on through to my adult years. And it got worse after I had kids. I was afraid of everything. You know, things like flying...and speaking in front of people..two of the main things God was calling me to do on this trip to Belgium. He was pulling me completely out of my comfort zone. Left to my own devices I would never leave my little house. I'd garden and craft and write and cook and take care of my family...I'd be perfectly content to live my little life under my little roof and call it good. I'm serious. But...God had other plans. He didn't allow me to walk through the battle of depression for nothing. He allowed me to walk through it...with Him right by my side even when I didn't even know He was there...so that I could learn from it, grow from it and then share it with others.

When this whole Belgium thing started and I came to the realization that I was going to have to fly and speak in front of people...two of my biggest fears...I was terrified. And every time I talked about it or thought about it I would feel sick. The nerves would flare up...the stomach would hurt...the jitters would settle in...fear. There it was, rearing its ugly head. And with that came anxiety...horrible bouts of anxiety. Heart pounding...ears ringing...hands shaking...sick...anxiety. Fear. Doubt. I was trying to be brave on the outside...but on the inside I was a mess. But over the course of this past year God did a work in me. A BIG work. HUGE in my book. By the time I got on that plane I was nervous...but not afraid. And when I stood up to tell my story on that Wednesday night in Belgium...into a microphone...with an interpreter!...I was calm. I was ready. I was prepared. I was one with God and following His lead. What was there to fear? Right? If God is for me, who can be against me? He sent me to Belgium for a purpose. And it was time to do what He'd called me to do. So I did it...confidently...with Him right by my side.

At first I thought something must be wrong with me...like pride had welled up or something because I wasn't nervous. But through prayer and asking God to take away any pride I might be feeling, I realized that I had been being prepared for such a time as this. It wasn't pride. It was preparation. It was God. I was completely in His will...and there was no room for fear. Fear is not of God. And at that time I was walking so closely beside Him that fear didn't stand a chance.

Fast forward...and I am home...and I am going to church. My pastor called me up to tell a bit about what God had done while Belgium. And when I got up to speak I didn't have an ounce of fear in me. I thought about being afraid...the devil tried to plant fear within me...but I refused it. I didn't play into the fear. I didn't agree with the fear. I thought about it....refused it...and moved on.

I make it sound really simple to just deny fear don't I? Well I have to say that at this point, it actually was. Thanks to Jesus. But learning to deny fear has been a process. A HUGE process...a hard process...a long process...years. A battle. It's not ever been easy for me to deny fear and anxiety. Caving in to it has always been my M.O. I caved because I didn't take hold of my power in Jesus to overcome it. We have such power in the name of Jesus. We have strength and peace and self-control. In Jesus we have grace and mercy and love. When we accept Jesus into our hearts we receive ALL of His goodness. It's in us. We just need to learn to tap into it. We need to learn to live in it...to live in Him.

Fear. It no longer controls me. Yes...I get fearful. And anxious. Terrified even. But these feelings no longer overtake me. They no longer control me or my actions or my thoughts. Fear tempts me...but I am aware of it now. And when this happens I tap into Jesus...I draw on the power and the gifts He's given me...and I conquer the fear. I conquer the enemy of my soul. And when I do this...I am victorious...in the name of Jesus. And the best part of all of this? YOU can be victorious, too! If you have Jesus in your heart, you have every bit of power that I have to overcome anything...fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders...you name it, you can conquer it with the help of Jesus.

On the other hand, if you do NOT have Jesus in your heart, maybe it's time to invite Him in. He's freedom and love and goodness. He's got good things in store for you, too.


Kelly said...

What an awesome testimony! Thanks for sharing.

We went to Costa Rica a few years ago on a mission trip and we're considering going again in March. Just not sure I'm being called for this trip.

ThyHandHathProvided said...

Praise God! Michelle! This is so awesome. What a testimony is right!:-)

Anonymous said...

aw, Michelle, this is wonderfully honest.

having suffered my own fair share of anxiety, i get it.

i'm so proud of you. you did an amazing thing.