Quaking. Numb. Frozen with fear. I'm not talking about my reactions to the latest horror flick. It's standing before an audience.
My job has involved doing some public speaking. When it came time to make my presentations, I found I'd go cold with fear. Then I'd lose my train of thought and find my mind absolutely blank.
I would make every effort to free myself from thoughts of fear before speaking, by trying to pray for myself. But you could compare what was going on in my mind to what two boxers do in a ring. I'd go several rounds with the fear, really trying to stand up to it. Then, although I didn't necessarily feel peaceful, I'd at least content myself with the thought that I'd done some combat.
My prayers were certainly attempts to confront what was troubling me. The efforts were sincere. But they brought little improvement when I had to face another audience.
Then things changed! As I prayed once again before a presentation, a new thought came to me: God never made fear. The founder of the Monitor wrote in the Christian Science textbook that God, as the divine Spirit, is "that only which is perfect, everlasting, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 594). How could a completely good God create something as cruel as fear? Something that seeks to paralyze, incapacitate, victimize, overwhelm, disable?
According to the Bible, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7). Realizing that God never made fear now meant that I did not have to destroy something that had real power; the task was to face down something that I was incorrectly believing had the power to hold me.
The entire premise of my prayer changed. I no longer sought freedom from an objective enemy. I prayed to remove something imposed on me in thought: the belief that fear could actually exist as a force within our good God's omnipotence.
What a relief! My feeling of burden left. I saw that although I had been calling on God for help in my prayer, I had unwittingly taken on a challenge of trying to make into nothing a big, bad something - a thing that He Himself had created. And that approach won't ever get our prayers very far.
I started relying on the fact that God never made fear; on His complete and utter love for me, His daughter. It was no longer a matter of doing battle with a mighty opponent.
I went out on stage that day with a new feeling of peace - even of joy. I felt God with me. And this sweet assurance of His presence has remained. I've never been troubled again by that cold, cruel fear when I've had to speak in public.
Jesus illustrated fearless living. He stood fearless and unafraid in the face of danger, disease, death. He taught that coming to know God as good, as all-powerful, as everywhere - as Love itself - is the sure way to prove fear powerless.
Jesus did not just do this for himself. He encouraged everyone to do the same. His words were "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
In sickness, in a business or relationship problem, in whatever threatens us, we have God our Father's authority to understand that we can't be gripped and tormented by fear. The "kingdom" we've been given includes power over the lie called fear. And the love with which we can counteract and extinguish it. And the soundness of mind with which to stand up to the situations that cause it.
Instead of feeling cold with fear, open your heart to the warmth of divine Love. Then you will see fear for what it is - powerless. You will see that God is with you when you stand and deliver.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of
the wicked, when it cometh.
For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep
thy foot from being taken.
Proverbs 3:25, 26
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society