A couple of weeks ago, I was experiencing extremely frightening dreams. I kept having the same dream over and over again; that I was being chased and trying to hide from someone. I couldn’t see his face and I was absolutely scared out of my mind. Even in my subconscious state of mind, I knew for sure was that this person was extremely dangerous and I had to do whatever I could to get away from him. Unfortunately, I had reached the end of the road. I had nowhere else to run or hide and I was helpless to scream, move or even make any kind of noise. As he eventually caught up with me and he reached out to grab me, I gave out what I felt was the loudest I could scream. At that very moment, I would wake up in a cold sweat. It was always a relief to realize that it was just a dream, but I was so shaken with fear that it would take me a little while to recover and get back to sleep. The dream and my fear felt so real and it was clearly to me the worst fear I had ever felt. I wanted to know how to overcome such a level of fear.
I have come to realize that when you face a situation that is out of your control, the only choices you have are to either surrender or give up. Experience has helped me learn that there is a difference between the two. Giving up always leaves me feeling empty and distraught. As there is no acceptance of the situation, it always takes me a long time to let go of what is happening. While surrender always helps me find acceptance in the situation and in so doing, it brings me a sense of peace. It is a peace that is impossible to find when I give up. If surrender brings such a level of peace, how then do you surrender in the face of such a terrifying situation? I have heard so many people say, “Let go and let God” and I believe that I have used this phrase myself, but I don’t think that I had ever truly grasped the true meaning of it and yet, I don’t think that there could be a better phrase that truly describes the meaning of surrender.
It is easy to see that God knew that fear would be our greatest challenge. Almost every book in the Bible has a message about fear. He does not say that we will not feel fear, what He keeps asking of us over and over again is not to give in to that fear. A few of those Bible verses: (Genesis 26:24, Exodus 14:13, Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, Zechariah 8:15, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 28:5, Luke 12:32, John 14:27, Acts 18:9, Hebrews 13:6, Revelation 1:17). My study on fear has helped me realize that feeling fear is part of our daily life but the only way of not giving in to it is to surrender.
The bible is filled with people who not only faced such incredible terror but refused to give in to the fear. They completely surrendered to the consequences of their decision even if that decision mean’t death. David faced Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31-51); Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:8-30); Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s den (Daniel 6:1-27); and the list goes on and on. I believe that the reason why they were able to conquer their fear was a result of their level of obedience and faithfulness to God as well as their unshakable faith in Him. They believed that God was with them and that He would not fail them or forsake them. (Hebrews 13:5). David said, “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand.” (Daniel 3:16-17). Daniel continued to pray to God even though the King had issued a decree that nobody would worship any other god or human being except him for thirty days. (Daniel 6:10-11).
Jesus by far shows us the greatest example of surrender. He had to surrender all the way to death. Even He, in His human existence, experienced the power of fear. Like us, His greatest fear came when His life was being threatened but unlike us, He knew exactly what was ahead of Him. From a human stand point, it hard to imagine what that must feel like; to know exactly what is going to happen to you! He not only faced death on the cross, but His journey to that cross was extremely painful. As He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-39, 26:42), He was so distressed that He started sweating blood. (Luke 22:44). He surrenders to God will when He prays, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42). This is such a powerful verse! It is filled with faith, trust, obedience and complete acceptance of God’s will for Him. An angel appears to Him to strengthen Him. (Luke 22:43). This again clearly shows us that God will never leave us nor forsake us. There is such a sense of peace and complete acceptance from this point up to the time that He is put to death on the cross. There is no selfishness, anger, defeat, ego or defensiveness in his actions. He even performs his last miracle as he is being arrested. (Luke 22:47-53).
I listened to a Pastor who talked about being in a situation where he was facing incredible fear and prayed to God to help him overcome his fear. He said that he heard God tell him that he had to let go of his life in order to allow God to take him on journey that he would never be able to experience as long as he held on to his life. We have to die to self in order to give God control. Facing a situation where there is no other place to go always brings us to that place of surrender. We then have a choice of either holding on and struggling to the end which just elevates the fear or we can let go by giving God the control and find peace. Jesus’ surrender to God’s will helped Him find peace and was not only able to face His death on the cross, but endure the most painful journey to that cross (Luke 22:39-23:46). In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for me will find it”. All this gives true meaning to that phrase, “Let go and let God”. I have really come to understand that God gave us free will and whenever we choose to give Him control, we will find peace in Him, whatever the consequences. Losing our human lives does not make us lose God. Jesus’ death has gained us eternal life, so losing this life means gaining eternal life. I also know for sure that this will always be a work in progress as I always have to bring it all back to mind whenever I face any kind of fear. There truly is peace in surrender!