I have always been a pioneer at heart. My curiosity drove me to venture to the farthest hill, explore the secret path, or dream of touching down in remote lands to fully experience exotic cultures .
Being a girl was never an issue for me; I had a fairly courageous soul. If I fell and scraped my knee, I would examine it, clean out any sand or pebbles, and then just get up and keep on going.
My dad always told me he hated that I would never cry as a child, especially when he would spank or correct me. I apparently just pursed my lips and walked off without uttering a word. (Pride, stubbornness, and a child’s version of “don’t ever let them see you sweat,” were the likely reasons.)
Trying new things was always intriguing…I couldn’t wait to go to school like my older brother Bob did; couldn’t wait to ride a 2-wheeler; loved my first camping trip; and taught myself how to swim and dive.
One might wonder, how does a well-adjusted, courageous, adventurous pioneer, grow into an adult with so many unexpressed and hidden fears? When do they take root and begin to grow?
The weird thing for me was I had no fear of real dangers: speeding cars, inner-city violence, fire or break-in. I had no fear of strangers or large crowds.
My fears were suggested, imagined or exaggerated.
All my life I heard my mother’s voice when we would walk on top of a fence or bridge: “be careful, you’re going to fall!” Running down the back steps I’d hear, “don’t fall—be careful!” As I grew, I slowly developed the fear of heights and would eventually avoid ferris wheels, roller coasters, look-out towers, high ledges–anything that made my stomach whirl and take my breath away. Later, I came to realize the fear I was dealing with was not the fear of heights, but the fear of falling. The familiar warning voice in my head eventually became a full-blown phobia.
I also developed a fear of flying. To me, this one is the most puzzling. As a young child, I have flown with my parents countless times. When I was young, most people were flying in propeller-planes, which were fun but always had very loud noise. At that age, I was totally unafraid and that fearlessness continued well into my early 20″s.
But, there must have been a rash of airline tragedies for the next few years. Stories of bombs, birds hitting windshields, down-drafts and hydraulic systems failing came out of Lockerbie, JFK, Dallas and Chicago. Some planes were reporting the fuselage spontaneously combusting, leaving gaping holes mid-air.
With that reporting streak I internalized on thought: “it’s life-threatening to fly”. Eventually that fear developed into a fully-developed phobia. For about 10 years, try as I could to overcome the debilitating fear, I shut down emotionally and refused to fly.
It was something that caused me much shame. I felt as though I was failing God because of my fear. I would purchase airline tickets “in faith;” drive to the airport with my bags packed; then, at the last moment, with sweaty palms and a faint feeling, I would go back home, giving into my fears.
To this day, I still get queasy when I look down off a high-rise building. I never quite shook the fear of heights. But, I can testify that God completely delivered me from the fear of flying.
I was in the Bronx, working diligently at opening the Christian academy I founded. Since I had graduated from CBN University, now Regents, the directors wanted to talk about the work we were doing on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. They asked me to fly down for the interview–and I knew I could not say “no” to Pat Robertson.
At that time our pastor had established 6 am prayer meetings for the staff. (not my favorite time of the day to pray) But, I remember so clearly around that time, kneeling at an altar. While there, a friend of mine came up behind me and began to pray in the Spirit. Her hand never touched me, but I could sense it near the middle of my back. As she continued to pray, I felt chains begin to pop in my spirit. Of course, they weren’t physical, but spiritual–and I felt them burst and release. In that instance I knew I was set free from that fear.
Of course, wanting to be very spiritual, I asked the Lord, “if I’m really free of this fear, will you confirm it to me some way?” (Oh me of little faith)
Patiently, the Lord answered that prayer. The very next Sunday, God sent an unexpected messenger to me before church. He said the Lord asked Him to give me Psalm 121:8, “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”
Amazingly, when I was age 9, God had given that verse to my grandmother when she was afraid to fly. As we sat on the Eastern Airlines’ brand-new Whisperjet, I offered her my promise box, and she drew out Psalm 121:8! Father God had used the very same verse to bring her peace that day.
On that special day in the Bronx, I wept, claiming that verse as a blessing over my life. God set me free that weekend; it was my first step of preparation for the world-wide ministry He had planned.
Since that time I have come to realize that fear and intimidation are twin tools in the enemy’s arsenal, and they are usually smoke and mirrors– just lying illusions. If he can get an inroad to a person’s psyche, he will magnify a thought into a grand imagination that causes paralyzing fear. The more one gives into the imagination, the stronger it becomes, until it is eventually a phobia.
My life is a witness to the power of God to deliver. He broke chains off my life through intercession and a word of encouragement. Since that day I have flown to over 40 nations multiple times, bringing the gospel of deliverance to many. I am so thankful, “…God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)