Many people today are filled with fear: fear of the future, fear of losing their health, fear of losing their jobs, plus numerous other fears.
I know a woman who lives without fear, and we can do the same.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She is a petite woman, but her petiteness has increased over the years. In her prime, she stood five foot two. After 90 years of living life, her shoulders have rounded from age. She now stands four foot ten and weighs around 100 pounds. With a ready smile and twinkling eyes, she will give anyone who is willing endless hugs. Her bones are honeycombed with osteoporosis, but she is the cutest little old lady I know—she’s my little mommy.
Although her frame is fragile, she is not weak! She is fearless and has an indomitable outlook. Her steps have slowed, but her spirit still soars at hundreds of miles per hour!
In her forties, Mom turned her world upside down. She and my Dad agreed to accept a call to serve in Beirut, Lebanon. As Sarai followed Abram, Mom followed Dad, leaving behind her loved ones and her home. They sold nearly all their earthly possessions and heeded God’s call to a land they did not know.
During the six years my parents lived in Lebanon, Mom was encircled by an onslaught of almost continual fighting in that small, war-torn country. Bombs exploded around them. Neighbors’ homes and nearby buildings were damaged. A friend’s shoulder was injured in an explosion. Projectiles whizzed through Mom’s classroom while she tried to console terrified students. Bullets peppered the walls and roof of their home and ricocheted through their bedroom. A worker and a student were both killed. Living through such terrifying conditions often causes post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet Mom literally walked through the valley of the shadow of death and came out smiling on the other end.
How could she be fearless in such a fearful environment? She put absolute trust in God. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ . . . His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness” (Psalm 91:2–6).
Mom wasn’t afraid to die because, live or die, she knew God would take care of her.
My intrepid mother taught me that having a trusting relationship with your Creator brings otherworldly peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6, 7).
Because of the unsafe environment in Lebanon, the school where my parents taught was closed, and they were relocated to Kenya, East Africa. While serving in Kenya, Mom developed a year-long bout of problems with her equilibrium. When she stood upright on her feet, the world spun at a sickening pace. Yet she never complained. She never gave up. During her dizziness, she carried on each school day and then went home and collapsed into bed.
How could she do it? It would have been acceptable to return to the United States for medical treatment. But not my mom. She did not fear for her health. She trusted in God to deliver her. “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
She waited on the Lord to work things out in His own way and on His own schedule, not hers. During that waiting time, she claimed Bible promises like these “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). “Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you” (Proverbs 20:22).
With her unquestioning, childlike faith, Mom relied on God to get her through each one of those whirling days. When my parents came home for furlough, God placed a natural health-care provider in Mom’s path who helped her overcome her dizziness. Because she had claimed God’s promises day after day, Mom knew this was not an accident or coincidence.
After my parents retired to the United States, a salesman came to the door of their home. He was selling home security systems. As part of his promotional sales pitch, he said, “Burglars often target seniors because they think seniors can’t defend themselves.”
“God is my shield. I’m not afraid of burglars, and I don’t need any home security system!” Mom replied, thinking of Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (NKJV).
In the past 10 years, Mom has had three hard falls to the ground. One time, she fell backward and hit her head on some concrete. When Mom was 87, she stumbled during her morning walk. Mom did a face-plant on the asphalt, got road rash on her face, broke off some teeth, and needed stitches above her lip. After all that, she walked home with Dad even though Dad offered to get the car. Despite having fragile bones, none of her bones were broken, bringing to mind Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you continually . . . and strengthen your bones” (NKJV; emphasis added).
The last fall happened when she was 89. This time, the full impact of her fall was taken by her chin, and her jaw bone broke. Mom did not panic or allow fear to rule her mind. Rather than thinking God didn’t protect her, she thanked Him that she fell forward and not on her hip. She told her friends, “The devil tripped me up, but my guardian angel made sure I went forward!” She was optimistic about having her mouth wired shut for six weeks. “It’s better than breaking my hip! And I won’t be able to say anything I shouldn’t!” She enacted the wise counsel found in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
My dauntless mom sought out the director of a nearby nursing home, wanting to visit the patients who rarely received any guests. Every week before she made her visits, she prepared cute little crafts or greeting cards to give the patients, many of whom were much younger than she was. Before long, every patient wanted Mom to stop by their room!
In addition to volunteering for various church positions over the years, Mom originated and developed a birthday-card ministry that expanded to get-well cards, sympathy cards, and thinking-of-you cards. She started it in one church, but then they moved away. When my parents relocated to Mentone, California, she introduced the card ministry there. The church’s membership was about 250 at that time, but she bravely tackled it alone. Now the membership is close to 700, and she has many helpers.
She not only pioneered the card ministry at the church but also courageously initiated a card ministry in the senior community, Carriage Isle, where my parents live. There are 100 homes in Carriage Isle, and she boldly knocked on each door, gathering names and birth dates. She gives cards to every member of every home unless they decline them. Mom has a burning desire to share Jesus, so without fail, she includes a small book or tract with each card she gives.
In Carriage Isle, the homes sit about three feet from the street. Every morning, Mom rises early and sits by the living room window at the front of their home. She and Dad are faithfully studying their Bibles and praying, and the residents of Carriage Isle frequently stop at Mom’s window, knowing she is a prayer warrior. When they do, Mom opens the window and chats with them. In this way, she receives countless prayer requests.
Doesn’t this sound similar to the Bible story of Daniel? Even upon threat of death—being thrown into a den of hungry lions—Daniel remained faithful and continued to pray at his window where all could see. “He went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10).
As fearless and faithful as Mom is, I knew she would continue to be at her window every morning—even upon threat of death. If Mom had been alive during Bible times, I think she might have been included in the eleventh chapter of the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11!
Despite being 90, she has no fear of starting new projects and learning new things. “Go, Granny, go!” In fact, she recently began a texting campaign. Every weekday, she sends group texts to 38 family members and friends with Scripture messages, encouragement, and lyrics from inspirational hymns. On Fridays, she texts beautiful nature photos with a Bible verse. Many of the verses she sends are about not being afraid and trusting in God.
Did you know 365 verses in the Bible say “do not fear”? (Perhaps this is a daily reminder to be fearless.) Plus, hundreds more verses teach the same thing using different words. For example, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV).
How can we be strong even though it seems the world is crashing down around us? The words of a hymn come to my mind. They are based on Psalm 27:1, which provides the answer, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; / Whom [or what] shall I fear? / The Lord is the strength of my life; / Of whom shall I be afraid?” (NKJV).
Even though we live in fragile times, do we truly have anything to fear? “If God is for us [and He is], who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 118:6). “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, 2).
God does not want us to live in fear. He tells us in Mark 5:36, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
How can we live without fear? Just believe! Let the Lord be the strength of your life, and you, too, can be fearless.
Nancy Schafner is a regular contributor to Signs of the Times®.