A Personal Testimony: Facing Our Fears: Whom Shall I Fear

MaryAnn Ward, Blog Post, Facing Our Fears

Facing our fears presents unique challenges for us all. We try to bury, deny, and wrangle fears into corners of avoidance. Sooner or later, however, God graciously leads us into bravely facing and dethroning them.

My Amplified Bible calls out the heading for Psalm 27 as “A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God.” Oh, if only I might claim such a constant position of faith. Isn’t that what we all seek? A fearless trust, not in ourselves but in Omnipotent God.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—Whom shall I dread?”

Psalm 27:1

When it comes to most things, I have more nerve than a toothache, naively going where others dread or doing what some prefer to shy away from. But lately, I’ve been facing more than a tad of fear. Only I didn’t recognize it until some close friends discreetly called it out. For that, I am most grateful.

Please, let me explain.

MaryAnn Ward, Blog, Fearless

The Origin

Last September at an InScribe Writer’s Conference, I felt God compelling me to write my memoir. Though I have shared snippets of my life story, I panicked at the thought of exposing the ugliness of my former life for all to see. “No, Lord,” I pleaded through tears.

I’ve never yet won an argument with God. After all, long ago my story became His story woven through the bright and glorious as well as the dark and ominous segments of life. Could His story in and through me possibly bring hope and help to others?

Grudgingly, I consented. “I give you thirty days,” I conceded, fearing the intensity of the emotional cost.

“Yes,” I felt God counter in my Spirit, “and you will paint thirty pictures in those thirty days — thirty pictures of roses.”

I laughed. To write “His story” in thirty days seemed more than an impossibility. To add another thirty day challenge felt outrageous. And roses! As a fairly new painter I’ve never once tried to paint roses.

For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Luke 1:37

But here we were, God and I, co-laboring to do something that would expose every raw piece of emotional flesh and disrobe every protective covering I’d invented. Numbly, I mass dumped memory after memory onto the pages until I was too exhausted to continue. Then, I’d paint, finding soul healing in the brush strokes. After thirty days of writing and painting, the rough draft and paintings were complete.

Facing my fears, God carried me through.

MaryAnn Ward, Blog, Father

God Intervention

But God had more proof that this little memoir was of His choosing. The first editor waved all her fees and asked to use the book, in combination with her resources, to bring healing to many others.

The second person to read the draft had the most to risk with the publication, but he found the contents entirely redemptive and healing. “This needs to be published. It will help many people,” he said.

The second professional editor also waved her fees. Without request, she offered this review:

“… Readers will come away with a renewed sense of hope, because through this writer’s experience they will discover that no one is too lost, too broken, or too far gone to have their lives restored beyond what they could even ask or imagine…” – Michele H.

“Do it afraid!” the slogan declares, regarding facing our fears.

But God provided even more assurance. Ordering the first shipment of books, I charged them to my credit card. Since my business account had funds to cover the cost, I neither worried nor prayed about finances. However, before the credit card payment came due, God stirred the hearts of people to donate money to my ministry efforts. (Something never done before!) No one knew the pending costs. I hadn’t expressed a need. But God picked up the full tab, providing more than enough to pay the entire bill!

Through God’s provision, He stamped, “MINE!” over this little memoir. “This is My story!”

MaryAnn Ward, Blog, Father's Love

Thursday’s Child

So, I now present to everyone Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go — a book I never chose to write and never paid for. I lay it down as a humble example of facing our fears.

“…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Isaian 43:1-2

Has there been fear? Yes, many times. Have I completely overcome fears of rejection, exposure, shame, and criticism? No, not at all. But this is and always will be God’s story of healing, deliverance, and redemption. A story to bring hope to others.

If you aren’t brave, please don’t read it. But if you would like to be brave, please read it. I’m sorry that it is a hard read. But I’m not sorry that it will make the road easier for others. Far too many people will relate to the painful experiences written within its pages. But far more people will hear God’s redemptive voice speak courage and life into their personal experiences.

Available to Order:

Overcome

As God leads, may we overcome our fears together. His love exceeds all other loves. Facing our fears, we focus on Jesus Christ who casts out all fear.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.
1 John 4:18

I welcome you to take a few moments to rest in His cascading love and to meditate on these few Bible verses to bring comfort and strength.

  • Isaiah 41:10 — “So 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.”
  • Psalm 34:4 —“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears
  • Psalm 23:4 — “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:6 — “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I’ve also included this play list of songs that has encouraged me, as one more resource that might help you.

Psalm 34 - Taste and See - by Shane & Shane (Lyric Video) | Christian Worship Music
Chris Tomlin - Whom Shall I Fear [God Of Angel Armies] (Lyric Video)
Zach Williams - No Longer Slaves (Live from Harding Prison)

**********

Nobody Can Tell Your Story — Tell What God Has Done

Nobody can tell your story but you. Nobody can tell my story but me. The most important story to tell is what God has done in our lives.

Biographies and autobiographies list the highest on my favorite genres to read. True stories of those who have courageously walked out their faith challenge my own faith to grow deeper and more steadfast. Call them trailblazers or pioneers, survivors or thrivers. Tenacious faith marked each of their lives. Their stories, personal and relatable, resonate within us.

So even though I know the power of personal stories, every time I attempt to tell my humble story, I flounder for the right words. I hesitate, wondering if my story has any real value.

Throughout my life, and even more so in these days, God welcomes me to tell everyone and anyone the things He has done for me.

As you tell your story and I tell mine, we join the ageless troop of those who have overcome fear and intimidation to tell their God-story.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Revelation 12:11

Uniqueness

Though similarities mark all our stories, each life-story charts the making of who we have uniquely become. The essence of our faith stories begins with who we once were and how our old lives looked. It includes an encounter with our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. And finally, who we are now.

I was one way. Then, I met Jesus. Now, I am another way. It’s that simple!

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.”
1 John 5:11

I stumble most to tell my story when I’m deceived enough to think it is “my” story. Oh, how wrong! God owns all our stories. Without Him, there would be no story to tell. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I gave Him everything, including my story. His story of redeeming grace weaves through my story. His story of power to transform broken, ruined lives has also become mine.

When you tell your story and I tell mine, we testify that God has given us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Not just a life in heaven, but a life we live every day.

Only God knows the eternal impact when you tell your story.

Prepare

Several years ago, a mentor challenged me to prepare three versions of my God-story — a one minute capsule, a five-minute version, and then a more complete fifteen-minute expansion.

His wise advice has helped me to tell my story over and over again. In casual conversation, we often only have a moment of opportunity. At other times, people may ask questions which lead to more details. Being prepared ahead of time gives us an advantage to naturally ease the things God has done for us into conversation.

I’m not talking about platform opportunities with a microphone and video recording, although that may come too. Sometimes the curious, or even condemning, ask questions about why we believe what we believe. Others may see significant changes in our lives and want to know the reason why. Then, tell your story.

“The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.”
Luke 8:38-39

Few people have such dramatic stories to tell. But every God encounter is worth relating to others.

Tell Your Story

People often disregard or dispute the truth of Scripture. They may question the validity of the Bible. But no one can deny when you tell your story, sharing your personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15

The Message Bible relays this portion as, “Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.”

As you tell your story and I tell mine, we allow no room for arrogance or pride. We can boast in nothing but Him. Gentleness, respect, and courtesy should infuse every word as we explain the Living Hope within us. Hope that has produced confident assurance, solid faith, and significant life change.

We have so many good reasons to tell God’s story about our lives. Let’s write it, speak it, and share it everywhere we go. Our story brings Good News to others.

Today’s Prayer:

Father, open our hearts to respond with gentleness, respect, and courtesy to all who ask about You. May we be sensitive to those who are aching to know You intimately and deeply. May we always be ready to tell about the incredible grace You have shown to us. Give us the right words for each situation that we may share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a loving and humble way. May the gratitude we feel for all You have done be expressed sincerely and simply. With thanks, we pray. Amen.

**********

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day

A Daughter's Redemption - Dawn of a New Day!

Most of us have heard stories of redemption where someone is saved from something.  The something could be a person, a destination or place, or a situation of their own or other people’s making.  My name is Dawn; the story of my life is one of a daughter’s redemption.

I have been saved many times from situations, beliefs or ideas, and behaviours of my own and others.  Sometimes my salvation has been quick or even instant.  At other times, I have come to a slow awareness of salvation available before I could walk into it.

The Most Important Salvation

The most important salvation of my life was both instant and a slow realization: salvation from my own worst self, fears, sin, and ignorance of Jesus Christ.

“For the Son of Man came to seek
and save those who are lost.”
Luke 19:10

As a young girl, my little sister, Rhonda, and I lived with my addicted dad.  He was one of the few single fathers in the 70’s. I already had experienced much fear, pain, and loss.

Fear, pain, and loss!

When my parent’s marriage disintegrated, my mother was separated from Rhonda and I.  My father loved us deeply; he also loved the drugs he used to pacify his wounded heart and mind.

In the midst of

stints of foster care,
multiple moves and school placements
(6 schools by grade 4)
parties, strangers, threats of violence in our home,
weapons, secrets, jail visits
and lack of adult supervision and structure.

Jesus introduced Himself to me.

I was 8 years old and beginning to have an awareness of and feel frustration with my home life.  My entire little-girl heart LOVED my father deeply — flaws, secrets, instability, and all. I was beginning to see direct effects of his poor decision-making on Rhonda and me.

I was also beginning to be angry towards him. Questions filled my 8-year-old heart and mind:

Why can’t we see our mom?
Where is mom?
Has she forgotten us?
Why do we have to keep secrets about guns
drugs and drinking?
Why do we move all the time?
Will we have to go to another foster home?
Why are police always at our house?
Why can’t we be like my friend’s families?”

In the midst of the darkness, danger, and fear in my home and heart, the strangest, most unexpected thing occurred!

A School Bus

A school bus started coming to our home to pick Rhonda and I up for Sunday School!  Not only that, but the same bus came and picked us up on Wednesdays for Pioneer Girls, a fun group for girls at church.  Twice a week, the yellow bus brought us to a Holy Spirit-filled church where we learned about Jesus for the first time.

School bus, church and Pioneer Girls

During one of these groups, my teacher took me aside and shared how Jesus knows and loves ME.  She asked if I’d like to know Jesus and invite Him into my heart to be with me always.  I did not have to think long! I did not know much about Jesus. What I had heard so far sounded wonderful!

I chose to believe that God and Jesus were real and that they could and would help me. And He sure did help me!  The change was instantaneous!

 “Then you will call on me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:12

I was no longer alone as a small girl in a big world.  I began to talk to Him and believed He heard my prayers.  My father was not a believer. He made it very clear he would never set foot in church. Either he knew we needed it, or he was glad for the structured activity it gave us, so he let us attend.

The Unexpected

Sometimes, the help Jesus offers is painful to receive, centering around earthly change and loss.  This is also my story. Within a few months of being introduced to Jesus, our lives would be forever changed.

We moved that spring to a large house outside Calgary, Alberta. The indoor pool, 4 bedrooms and 100 acres of land were welcome.

As a little girl, I had no way of knowing my dad had become deeply involved in a drug ring. The property was owned by someone in that circle. We were allowed to live there with expectations of my dad.

We finished the school year at a new school and experienced another month in foster care, before returning home to dad and country life.

Our grandparents came to take us to Regina for the summer vacation.  We were excited! We loved time with grandma and grandpa!  Here there was Sunday school, lots of yummy food, love, attention, and care.

Within 2 weeks of kissing and hugging our dad goodbye, we received the worst news any child can hear — our dad was no longer alive. He shot and killed himself!

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

Grief, loss, tears and sadness became our companions that summer. Adults decided the best care for us. Two little girls, aged nine and seven, were required to begin a new chapter in life.

Without Dad

Early in this experience of loss, I came to a realization: life was not easy nor always good with my dad. We LOVED our dad and wanted him back with us, but I also had to admit we were heading down a dangerous road in life. I began to see how Jesus was intervening to save Rhonda and me.

God was not responsible for or caused my dad to take his own life.  God’s will is never death or sin.  I am assured that God was grieving for the loss of his son, our dad, alongside Rhonda and I grieving for our father.

Grief, Sorrow and Pain - A Father Gone!

After my heart healed a little, I was able to look back at life before and after losing my father. I began to learn that God sometimes allows deep pain and loss because He knows it can lead to equally deep trust and life. Can and will we surrender and trust Him to allow His tender healing of the hurts?

Life began again in July, 1980 for me.  It is not the end of my story, but it was the end of that chapter of my story.  I thank Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit for walking through that season with me.

I’m also thankful to the Pioneer Girls leader, loving praying grandparents, and for the prayers and actions of others who gently circled us. When we meet Jesus, face to face, He will introduce us to the many people who influenced our young lives.

Redemption

And today? These many years later, how has life unfolded? Twists and turns! Lumps and bumps! Jesus continues to surprise!

The latest is a call to the woods of Tracy, New Brunswick. Here my husband and I have committed a year of our lives to volunteer. We are learning a program model for a Christ-Centered residential addiction program for men called “Village of Hope”. Some days we feel we fall short of the call, but we press forward knowing He has led us here for this time and His purpose. There’s no other place I’d rather be!

Village of Hope New Brunswick

Jesus continually called my name, even after a long season of running away and denying hearing His voice. I am blessed on earth to be called “mother” “grandmother” “wife” and “friend”. The core of my identity though is knowing my name as “Daughter”.

“And, “I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:18

I spent many years not knowing the experience of being addressed as someone’s daughter. Now my Heavenly Daddy gave me the mind and heart-jolting revelation, “You are MY daughter”. The sweet reward of redemption!

My response is to live as a child of the King – by spreading seeds of His joy, His peace, His love and light.  To do so allows me to thrive.

**********

Note:

Thrive Dawn does! Dawn loves and cares for others passionately and genuinely. It is fitting that Dawn is the first to share her testimony, as representative of her First Nations Indigenous heritage.

Dawn’s redemption continues to influence numerous lives nationally. She effectively “mothers” multitudes, inspiring them to break free from generational and personal places of pain and addiction.

The Dawn of a New Day! Philip & Dawn

I am proud to call Dawn a friend, a sister, and partner in the work of Christ. She is a humble “daughter” of her Father God in the fullest extent of the word.

More Good Reading:

Rebuild the Walls! Fight for Your Families, Your Sons And Your Daughters!