It was out there; it was out to get me, and I was scared to death.
I was 14 years old at the time, and my stomach was in complete knots for almost an entire year. My heart would almost beat out of my chest every single morning and evening when I had to go out to that cold, dark barn.
I dreaded feeding my horse. I feared climbing up into that loft to grab a bale of hay to throw down into the pen and then high-tailing it back to the safety and warmth that awaited me inside the walls of our home. Panting for breath, I feared that that “thing” was probably crouching in the corner, waiting to grab me, looking piercingly into my soul with its glowing red eyes.
Now this was all in my mind…or at least, that’s what other people would say. But it was VERY real to me, and the devil had me trapped in a never ending black hole of fear that gripped my heart and mind so tight – it was as if I were living inside of a horror movie.
That was until a small sliver of hope started to crack through the mounting darkness.
I remember that moment vividly. Late one evening after school, my mom was in the kitchen cooking dinner and the phone rang. She called me in to say, “It’s your teacher.” I’m sure the look of shock and wonder didn’t escape mom’s gaze as I grabbed the receiver. Mrs. Vicki asked me how I was doing and said that she had heard me talking about my fear of going out to the barn. She sounded really concerned. Concerned enough to call, concerned enough to let me know that she understood what fear could do and that she was going to be praying for me every single morning and evening at the exact times that I was going to be going out to the barn. She then told me about God’s love, and how I could focus on that love instead of being afraid.
She also encouraged me to do something so backwards from what fear wanted me to do – to not run.
She told me to speak 2 Timothy 1:7 out loud over and over when I was on my way out to the barn, and the fear would eventually loosen its grip. I thanked her calling and hung up after she offered up a beautiful, heartfelt and powerful prayer, asking for God to help me, to show me His love, and then she commanded fear to leave me alone.
I marveled at what had just happened – and I was willing to try almost anything to make the insanity stop. So, as I got ready to head out in the -40 subzero Alaskan temps and filled up two 5 gallon buckets with hot steaming water, I began the trek across the snow covered path out to the barn. As the barn got closer, I started to say the scripture as my teacher had instructed: “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I said it over and over again, but nothing changed and I was still very scared. “Why wasn’t it working?” I’d say to myself, heart beating a mile a minute – just waiting to see that scary thing appear in the corner of the loft. So I quickly threw the hay to my horse, brushed my hand down his face and ran back to the house as fast as my wobbly legs could carry me.
The next day and many following…it was the same old story; that stupid fear didn’t let up. It kept pressing in, making me sweat the daily feeding ritual.
But guess what? I didn’t give up either. That verse became the mantra of my everyday life for months as I spoke it, yelled it, sang it, spoke it. Whatever way it could it would tumble out of my mouth on every single trip out to that darkened building.
Everything changed when I found a book called Run to the Roar.
It’s all about how a lion was king of the jungle – that was until he lost a costly battle and his kingship to much stronger opponent. In that war the former king lost his authority in the land and would never again be seen as the King who could beat any opponent with the fiercest of strength, able to oppress and devour anything he wanted to. That was unless the prey he stalked would just give up at the sound of his still ferocious roar. That roar was all he had left; it was nothing more than him trying to prove to himself (and anyone that would listen) that he still had it going on. However, that roar was just a lie, a facade, trying to make anyone around him believe that he still had the power to hurt them. But the truth is, he didn’t.
That is the perfect picture of who Satan is: A defeated former king roaming the earth just like a lion…seeking whom he may devour.
He is trying to find people who will listen to his roar, his voice, and tremble; ones that allow themselves to be devoured by fear and lay down at his feet as prey. I instantly saw him (and that thing in the barn) as only a menacing voice, and not as the powerful entity that I had once believed them to be. I saw him as the beaten, bruised, and humiliated opponent to a much more powerful King. In my mind’s eye he became a mangy old lion with no teeth and a matted mane, his tail had been cut off, and his once sharp toe nails were missing. This former king had lost his power and authority to rule and all I had to do was run straight toward the roar and stand my ground to beat him back down – he was the humiliated powerless one, not me. I discovered that I had the truth of God’s word surrounding me, and Jesus – my true King, was standing behind me, going before me. Surrounding me, covering me and upholding me in His hand.
With this “light bulb moment”…the trips out the barn took an entirely different turn. I started looking forward to going out to feed my horse because that verse came out more forcefully, with more power and authority than ever before, for now I was convinced of the truth behind what God had said, and what He had empowered me with in this daily battle. It was not long after winning this mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual war that I wrote a song about it – and with guitar in hand and determination in my heart, I sang it in front of my entire school. The school administration (at the urging of my supervisor) allowed me to talk about my experience and what I learned about fear, about lions, about darkness, and about what it felt like to feel God’s love so much that fear would melt away.
It was then that I finally understood, that I would not become prey. I would not be one of those that MAY be devoured.
What Roar are YOU going to run toward today? I am praying for you as you find YOUR battle cry.