Are We Being Conditioned to Fear?

The Root of Fear:

One Sunday afternoon, at the tender age of five, aboard my Daddy’s boat, lightning struck me. We’d invited the Emmons family to join us that afternoon for a boat ride on the Chesapeake Bay. Their son Nelson looked like a dark-headed John Denver and wore lenses so thick his tiny eyes appeared huge. I could feel the song Leaving on a Jet Plane in the pit of my stomach as our shoulders fused on the bench in the cock pit. I put my hand out to catch the spray over the side of the boat and smiled back to see if Nelson looked impressed. Then, out of nowhere, a flash of bluish light came down and struck the crab pot beside the boat, bounced off, and grounded itself in my arm.

It hurt.

I screamed.

I never flirted with John Denver again.

More Recent Encounters:

We have a home in Orlando, and another nestled on a remote farm in Georgia. Last month lightning struck both.

In Orlando while working after dark on my laptop a blue light flashed outside my office window. I felt the pressure in my chest, as did our dogs and our daughter, who landed in bed with me that night. That strike knocked out our cable, internet, phone, and garden lighting. There’s an electrician here this morning still trying to fix it.

A week later at the farmhouse in Georgia, while on the phone with Barby (HH editor) discussing the podcast we would tape that weekend, a bolt lit up the phone I was on. Screaming I dropped the handheld. Barby heard me scream and then the phone died. Minutes later, I waved my cell phone around the front windows looking for two signal bars to send her a text that I was indeed still alive.

That strike knocked out internet, phone line, satellite tv, and I do believe several of our outlets are fried.

My momma made sure to let me know that lightning comes from the Lord, by sending me scripture (Job 37:3, Psalms 144:6) about how God directs the strikes. I found this extremely helpful. Texting back, “So you’re saying God’s trying to strike me?”

She didn’t have an answer for that one, but stated I needed to thank Him for keeping me alive.

Meanwhile, my husband, Jay, believes I’m a superhero of some sort, as my body attracts energy. He’s starting to realize he chose an expensive, high-maintenance wife in a way no other wives are.

Beyond all that, September was an expensive month.

Look at how smart cows are, they know what to do when a storms coming.

Get Low.

Conditioned to Fear:

I’ve been conditioned to fear lightening most of my life. Growing up, when the storm clouds rolled in Momma would put me in the hallway, pop a record in the console player (that you had to turn sideways and suck in to get around), and we’d tap our feet to Motown, while guzzling down iced Cokes.

Albeit Daddy had a different approach. He hated for his brood to fear anything and thought it best to get us over everything quickly. One night when a storm came in, I pulled on Daddy’s arm as he tried to go out onto the porch to watch it.

“Daddy you’ll die out there!” I cried.

“Don’t be silly.” He peeled me off and stepped out. Seeing his determination, I retreated to my shelter.

A huge bolt came down shaking the house. On flimsy legs, I crept to the back door to peer out the glass. Daddy laid sprawled out on the floor. Lightning lit up his still face. Screaming, I sprinted to get Momma pulling her to the storm door.

“What!  What! What! Tammy?”

I pointed out the door. “He’s dead!” I said, hating to tell my Momma she’d become a widower. Tears streamed down my cheeks.

She quietly watched Daddy for a few seconds before putting her hands on her hips. “David, if you don’t get in here and comfort this child, I’m going to get my Sally (her gun) and kill you myself.”

Laughing, Daddy jumped up, spread out his arms, “Tada!” he said. “See?  Nothing to be afraid of.”

I stormed off.

It was probably my husband, Jay’s, gentle coaxing that has helped me the most. As newlyweds, he’d come home from work and find me huddled in our hallway, with the dog and cat. He’d pulled me out on several occasions, explaining that I’d have to get over my fears or I’d spend my entire life in a hallway (since Florida is infamous for its lightning).

Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I sought the safety of a hallway during a storm.

Hallways can be prisons.

It delights the enemy to imprison us in fear. He loves to condition us to fear things.

Let’s be real… there’s much to fear out there: Covid 19, vaccinations, the Taliban, empty toilet paper shelves!,  to name a few, but God is clear that if we fear something, we didn’t get it from Him.

 

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7 ESV)

How Do We Know We are Living in Fear?

There are clear indications when we slip into a pattern of fear:

  1. We take our eyes off Christ. We stop allowing God to speak to us about the subject and start gleaning advice from the media or well-meaning friends.
  2. We forget God’s promises.
  3. We feel confused. We enter a pattern of changing our minds—or freezing—because we don’t know what to do.
  4. We build walls of protection around ourselves.
  5. We become distracted.

Applying Covid-19:

Let’s talk Covid-19. I, myself, have experienced fear of the vaccination and fear of the virus at different times. How can one illness hit you from both sides and cause you to sway back and forth? Covid has put us in a prison. Are we putting more faith in the “experts” than we are our Heavenly Father? Have we lost our faith in God’s promises? Are we keeping ourselves bound at home? Have we become distracted from what God wants us to do?

What is the Cure for Fear?

The cure for fear is practicing abiding: spending time with God in prayer, reading God’s Word, and listening. Ask God for a Word every morning and be intentional about spending time receiving that Word.

When we do this, several things happen:

  1. God reminds us of His promises.
  2. We remember He’s in control.
  3. We hear His instructions for our lives.
  4. He restores our focus on Him, His plans, and our callings.
  5. His Word eliminates confusion, and we see clearly what we’re supposed to do.
  6. He breaks down those walls that imprison us.

If you’ve been hiding in your hallway, grab your Bible and allow God to gently coax you out with those familiar passages that speak into fear.

Here are some to mediate on:

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalms 27:1

Please note: Another article on HH about overcoming fear you may enjoy can be found here: Cultivating a Heart of Hope.

Tammy Carter Adams is the founder of The Hallelujah House. She’s happily married to Jay and they have four children ages 22, 21, 17, and 7. When she’s not writing, Tammy loves painting and interior design projects. She lives in Orlando, Florida, but escapes to her farmhouse on a working farm in Georgia. You can contact her directly by locating her profile page in the About Us tab above.

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