Fears of all kinds used to paralyze me completely. One by one these fears have fallen to the wayside as I am beginning to really understand God's grace. Yes, I said understanding God's grace should begin to wipe our fears away.
Consider what Peter said to the Jews scattered across Asia Minor. They were living under persecution for their faith, in fear of death really. Peter explains to them how to live the Christian life with victory even in the midst of difficult and fearful situations.
"Grace to you and peace be multiplied" (1 Pet. 1:2).
Prescription For Overcoming
Peter gives a prescription for living an overcoming life. He points out they have grace or spiritual blessing and peace, but it's not static. It is active and always increasing in abundance.
It really identifies this increasing abundance of God's grace and peace as the reason we have freedom from all the things that come against us.
This mindset helps them understand that in and through Christ they have three things.
- Freedom from fears.
- Freedom from agitating passions.
- Freedom from moral conflicts.
Molested at age 11, I was afraid of men. I never told anyone as a child. I simply tried to protect myself by staying away from this particular man. I was afraid adults would not believe me. By not telling, my fears only increased in my mind looming larger than life within me. I had other fears too numerous to mention here, but suffice it to say they precluded me from any forward motion.
This means different things to different people. For me it meant not understanding my emotions. My mother had high highs and low lows. As a kid this was difficult for me to understand. I wanted only one thing—not to fully feel my emotions or be out of control.
I discovered early that food can be a great anesthetizer of pain and a way to cover up any emotion. If I was angry, sad, lonely, scared or even happy I could feed the emotion to keep it quiet. I just wanted to be even keel—no highs, no lows.
I was a moral person and followed all the rules of the church. However eating a lot of food was not against the rules. Even gaining weight was not against the rules. In reality, the church promoted indulgence in food by jokes from the pulpit about the great food at the church dinner.
God had tapped me on the shoulder enough times with enough scriptures that I knew for me overeating was a sin. One scripture especially spoke to me but still didn't get me to give up the foods I craved.
" 'All things are lawful to me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be brought under the power of anything" (1 Cor. 6:12).
I wanted freedom. I had carried all these things into adulthood. I could totally identify with this verse: "For the good I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do" (Rom. 7:19). I wanted freedom, but this verse seemed to verify that I was doomed to never be free.
The solution I began to live out and understand is also from Peter. "As obedient children do not conduct yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:14-16).
How is God the answer? When l live as a child of obedience and don't listen to the cravings of my flesh, to my fears, my agitating passions or my moral conflicts, my life all of a sudden becomes one of victory and freedom.
The life of freedom from fear really comes down to a simple formula: Love for God results in obedience to His truth which results in living in abundance, free from fear, agitating passions and moral conflicts.
"Since your souls have been purified by obedience to the truth through the Spirit unto a genuine brotherly love, love one another deeply with a pure heart" (1 Pet. 1:22).
What we need to live in right standing with God and others is obedience to the truth through the Holy Spirit.
I knew exactly what area He wanted me to be obedient in. I knew the truth. I didn't know how to accomplish it until I realized it is ONLY through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit that lasting victory is obtained.
My story is long and involved which is why I wrote my memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying To Earn God's Favor. I overcame my brokenness and weakness in the area of food by the grace, peace and power of God. He led me every step of the way.
As I would take a step, the abundance of grace would meet me there before my foot hit the ground.
It's impossible to describe until you've experienced that complete knowing that you are totally in His care because there is no way you can do it yourself. I tried for years, but it's only until I totally surrendered to Him that the miraculous work of God truly began to take place in my life.
If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, believe me.
Teresa Shields Parker is an author, speaker and coach. Her books, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation head the Christian Weight Loss Memoir category on Amazon. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com where you can find her weight loss courses and groups as well.
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