Two “worldview shifts”, out the darkness into the light
In the midst of all the ministry, the Lord continued to work on setting me free from the chains of the past. On one visit to Albania the Lord had a surprise waiting for me. I went alone on this trip, and when I arrived, our field leader and his family were away for a couple of days. He left me a message, telling me to stay in his house and which bed to sleep in.
So here I was, in a strange house, in a strange country, all by myself, and night was descending. Not a good situation for me with my fear of being home alone in the dark.
As I got into bed and turned out the light, I could see the bedroom door with its frosted window. The street lamp was shining into the hall beyond the door, and illuminated the glass.
Negative, scary thoughts began to come to my mind, “What if I hear a footstep on the stairs…..then another….. and another. Then what if a huge shape appears in the hall, reaching out a great hand towards my door, each finger tipped with a huge talon….”
I interrupted this flow of negative images: “No! I will not think this. The truth is that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He will protect me here. Even if such a creature did come, Jesus is with me; His rod and His staff will comfort and protect me. He will prepare a table in the presence of my enemies. I do not need to fear, I can trust Him!”
In the face of this barrage of Truth, the familiar fear of the dark, the demonic power that had tried to envelop me, began to crumple in on itself and fell to the floor.
In that moment, I was set free from this fear in a new and deeper way. Later that night, when I had to get up to go to the bathroom, I did not turn the light on, but walked in the dark, reciting Psalm 23 out loud on the way there and back. I wanted to continue to powerfully and directly confront those powers of darkness and fear.
I only had one more such powerful attack, several years later, this time in Germany. There, as I went to the bathroom in the dark, the fear came; it was a fear that when I opened the bedroom door, I would see a flaming face hanging there in the air.
As I began to recite Psalm 23, a question came to me: “You know who is on the other side of that door?” And I knew the answer: “Jesus is there, waiting for me, ready and very able to protect me from any and every possible enemy. I can trust Him!” This truth put my fears to rest permanently.
After that, every other attempt on Satan’s part to reestablish his reign of fear in my life has proved ineffective as I lift the shield of faith and wield the sword of the Spirit. True freedom comes only in Christ!
In 1996, came another big step forward into freedom through an epiphany sent by the Lord. All my life I’d struggled with an aversion to celebrations. Christmas, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving all made me uncomfortable. This was a mystery to me.
Holidays were opportunity to have time off from work, an opportunity to be with family and friends, to enjoy meals and celebrate together—something that should have made me happy. But it did not. I learned to stuff my negative feelings and join in, but I did not welcome holidays.
Later, I realized that one aspect of my inability to enjoy “down time” was that I felt most comfortable with myself and others when I was working. I liked to work; it provided me with a clear role and brought me a sense of security. Holidays took all that away from me, and added the further uncertainty of an unscheduled day stretching before me.
Then unexpectedly in my fiftieth year, during a quiet time with the Lord, it was like a door opened in my heart of understanding, and I realized the real reason I didn’t like holidays. It was because my father had taught me that celebrating was not masculine. It was only for women and children. It went into the same category as religion: unmanly. My father had never specifically articulated this, but his actions, reactions and stories had definitely communicated it.
More than once he told me how during holidays as a boy he had been forced to go with his mother to visit little old ladies. He had to sit in dark parlors for hours with these old women, enduring their “old lady” attentions and remarks.
Dad did join in on our family celebrations but always dashing in at the last minute, signaling to me that they weren’t important. “Work was more important,” was the message I got.
Dad would probably have been surprised to hear what I’d learned from him, since I am sure it wasn’t intentional, but I got the point that celebrating is not masculine and lived it out in my own life.
At the moment of my epiphany when I received this revelation, a statement of truth popped into my mind: “Well, that’s not how God thinks! Look at all the celebrations He initiated in the Old Testament! And think of all the celebration that the Bible says takes place among the angels when one person believes in Jesus. Think of the forever celebration there will be in Heaven!”
With these insights, I could immediately reject the wrong idea and feeling that celebrating is not masculine. I could now begin instead to embrace the positive concept of celebration and enter whole-heartedly into the holidays to come.
This may seem like a small issue, but for me it was like moving out of a dull, grey “twilight zone” into the full color of a bright summer’s day.
I could now whole-heartedly and fully join Barbara and mt mother, who were very good at celebrating in both American holidays and in the many holidays the Germans celebrate, another step forward in freedom.