“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” ~1 John 3:18
From an early age the Devil worked hard to make me scared of everything. I had constant nightmares and waking visions, causing me to fear spiritual things. I was that guy who could never get the right words out of his mouth, so I feared public ridicule. Having been the victim of child molestation, I grew into an adult terrified of intimacy. Fear caused me to avoid people and any responsibilities that would cause me to interact with others in any way. I instinctively rejected people for solitary pursuits, knowing that people would only hurt me more then I felt equipped to bear.
When we came to Gateway and I entered into fasting and praying in tongues, God started unraveling pieces of my fearful soul, and I experienced breakthrough in many areas. I gained confidence in my abilities, and I learned to be comfortable enough around people to hold down a job for the first time in my life. These changes were good, but there was still more to be done. Through mortification, I reached a place where the Love of God began to deal with me about my fears and insecurities. Holy Spirit wanted to expose them and show me how to deal with them, but I didn’t believe I could face those fears and I didn’t want others to know about them. I realized I had become a fake, a façade… willing to live a life I could control with intellect and logic, but not willing to really open up to the Love of God or the love of others.
Instead of pressing in and trusting God, I ran from Him and I ran from the church. For eight years I was out of church and out of God’s will for my life. During that time, I was a faithful employee and a “good person.” I was kind to my wife, and I dedicated all my free time to building a community project that helped others. I thought I was ok, because I still prayed in tongues occasionally, I read my bible once in a while, God never convicted me for leaving the church, and I never spoke evil against the leaders of the church or hindered my wife’s attendance. Despite all the “good” I did, those same old fears controlled me, guiding my decisions and actions. Over time, patterns of isolation took over again. Those hidden fears manifested in full force and I pushed back against people so hard that I almost pushed them all away.
God, in His mercy, gave me a wake-up call. Facing the possibility of losing everything that was important to me, I finally accepted that something had to change…and that something was me. Sitting alone, crying from grief and pain, I realized just how much I hurt everyone in my life. I knew that if I did not face my fears, I would wind up loveless, friendless, and homeless. I also realized the only hope I would ever have to be the man I must be is to trust the Lord. I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to forgive me for my disobedience and the hurt I’ve caused others, and He immediately overwhelmed me with His love and forgiveness. He told me it wasn’t too late to turn things around if I would trust Him and accept His love completely.
To achieve breakthrough, I have had to repent to God and to those I’ve hurt. I’ve had to forgive myself, as well as those who hurt me. By God’s Mercy, I receive forgiveness for each of my transgressions and the Grace required to help me make amends. It’s only because of His mercy that I don’t worry about missed opportunities. My hope is that as I continue to die to myself and depend on Him, His perfect Love working in me will provide what I cannot provide for others. Every day I experience His strength working through my weaknesses. It has been an uncomfortable process, but with each step His Love is breaking through in my life, and I am walking free from years of fear and bondage.
All praise, glory and honor to my Lord Jesus Christ, the light and hope of my salvation, Amen!
~by guest contributor (and husband of Anessa), Eric Back