Are you fearful? Are you overwhelmed by some circumstance in your life over which you have no control? Is it finances, health, fear that you will lose loved ones? I have had my share of fears. I’m sure we all have something about which we are afraid. The Bible has much to say about fear, but before I share those verses, I’m going to share my story of fear.
Bear was the funds clerk Chaplain Assistant at our new assignment in the Army but before serving there for very long he got notification that another unit was in need of a Chaplain’s assistant, and by the way, they were deploying soon.
Though Bear didn’t want to deploy, he knew that he could help these soldiers and wanted the opportunity to serve with them. This was at the end of 2002 and things were just beginning to happen in Iraq and we didn’t know when they would deploy, the dates kept getting changed, we had two months, then we had 6 weeks, then we had 5 weeks, then it would be back to 2 months again. The packing list kept changing, they were doing FTX, field training exercises, firing range practice, inspections, inspections, and extra drills. For weeks on end he had 18 hour days often coming home after the kids were already tucked in bed.
We had so little time to spend together before he was supposed to deploy, but it seemed that at the most crucial time, we didn’t get time to spend with him.
Then came the whammy, I found out I was pregnant, I had a six month old baby, a 4 yr old, a 5 yr old, and a 15 year old, and my husband was leaving for a year, maybe more, no one knew how long deployments would be back then.
Fear had begun to get a strangle hold of my heart, a grip that would not release for months. I decided to just be busy, that’s what all our Family Readiness Group leaders said, don’t just sit around the house and mope, get involved with something, make new friends, do something outside your comfort zone, the time will go faster.
Finally we had firm dates. There were three “waves” of departures in his unit, Bear was the third group to go. I wanted to savor every moment, so we spent the day with Daddy taking pictures of everything, getting his rifle issue, gathering and putting on all his gear, they even had to get on a scale and weigh while carrying it all. Most guys carried anywhere from 90 to 120 pounds of extra gear including bulletproof vests and weapons, helmet, etc.
The busses came and names were called, bodies counted, loaded on the busses and then counted again. I saw a lot of fear that day, crying wives, clinging girlfriends, and lots of picture taking. But I would be ok, I'd just stay busy. We stood and waved as he drove away, then it hit me. He was gone. I wouldn’t see him for at least a year, maybe more. I was the sole caregiver for our children, 4 children: 2 girls, 2 boys and another on the way. I couldn’t go home. I didn’t want to face the empty house. We went to the mall, we went out for pizza, we rented a movie. I did NOT want to face that empty space. I cried myself to sleep for days. It got so bad, that I would stay up and watch movies instead of going to our empty bedroom alone.
Fear had raised its ugly head. I was alone, what if I would forever be alone, what if he never came back. That was a shock, I had rightly named the fear that gripped my heart. That was the thing I was afraid of. Alone, no skills, I was a Mom for crying out loud. I went to college for about a semester and a half until I met Bear, got married and dropped out. How would I support our children? At that time our soldier’s insurance policy was only $250,000. I spent it over and over in my head. It would be gone after I bought a house. What would I live on?
In the military, if there were a casualty, the chaplain and officer in charge would come to the door in their dress uniforms and inform the next of kin what had happened. So every time the doorbell rang, my heart would be in my throat. I hated to see anyone in their Dress Greens.
Right after Christmas time, I was visiting my mother in Utah, and I got a call on my cell phone from our FRG leader, Jennifer, telling me that we had had a casualty in our unit. The husband of a friend of mine had been killed, and could I be back in town for the memorial service? I would try, but I did not want to be there. I would have to face my fear head on, I wanted to stay busy, I wanted to just forget about my husband being in a combat zone driving around on roads where IEDs were cleverly hidden amongst the trash, protecting his Chaplain with his own life if necessary.
Jennifer also informed me that I did not let anyone know that I was leaving the area. I needed to keep the Family Readiness Group informed of my whereabouts in the event I was “notified.” There it was again, that ugly paralyzing fear of losing him.
The drive home from Utah with my mom was a bit unnerving, (she rode with us to Washington and then flew back to her home in Utah so I wouldn’t have to drive with the kids all by myself.) It was snowing, there were closed highways, we had to take ski routes that meandered around the freeways in order to get back in time for her return flight. One road in particular was very scary to me. It was only wide enough for us to pass, and the snowdrifts were taller than the van. It was so hard to steer because of the washboards in the packed snow and it was foggy and dark. And though I prayed more during that drive than ever before, the kids slept in their car seats, oblivious to the treacherous driving conditions outside and I prayed.
Dear Lord, please get us through this, I can’t do this alone, I need you. I can hardly see, the steering wheel is so hard to control. I need your help.
I felt rather than heard Him speaking to my heart. Do you trust me? Do you trust me to get you home safely?
Yes, Lord, I do trust you. I know I can’t do it on my own. That’s why I am asking for your help. I felt much better, knowing that He was with me on the drive home.
Then slowly, sneaking into my heart came another question. Do you trust me? Yes, Lord, I do, and thank you for being here with me. Then...
Do you trust me to get Bear home safely?
WHAM! Wait, that’s not what I was asking about.
Do you trust me with Bear’s life? You aren’t in control of what goes on over in that foreign country half a world away, are you?
Well, no, I’m not. But…
I Am. I Am who I Am. I Am the resurrection and the life. I Am the way. I Am all that you need.
I couldn’t see from the tears in my eyes. It was a good thing He was there guiding our way over those mountain ski trails, because I was crying tears of joy and release. Release from the fear that permeated every part of me. At that moment I was able to turn control of my sweetheart over to God and leave it right there.
I was able to go to the memorial service for my friend’s husband and offer her comfort and support. My fears relieved, my torment was squelched, and comfort was offered to me so that I could offer it to her in her time of need.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 13:5 (the second half of the verse and verse 6) For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Now those verses did not mean that nothing would ever happen to my husband, it could, and I knew that, but I also knew that he was in God's hands and that if anything did happened to him, I would be ok. God was with me just as He was with Bear in the desert. And if God was with us, who could be against us?