Joyful Mothering - 4 - Smiling at the future

Smiling at the future

Part Four: Exchanging Fear For Joyful Confidence

by Leslie Ludy

Photos by Ashleigh Coleman Photography

Corrie ten Boom said, “Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” How true that statement has been in my life! There is nothing that can rob today’s joy quicker than foreboding about all the fearful “what if’s” that might possibly happen tomorrow. Fear destroys joy, while faith promotes joy.

But living in joyful confidence rather than fearful fretting is far easier said than done, especially for today’s moms. We are constantly surrounded by messages of fear and worry—bombarded by all latest studies about what electronics could be giving off harmful radiation, what kinds of toys may cause lead poisoning, what damage is done when BPA leeches into our kids’ plastic cups, or the detriment that GMO’s are to our health. Being “in the know” about these potential dangers seems like wisdom. But often the more knowledge we gain about what might possibly harm us or our families, the more paranoid, fearful, and self-protective we become. I’ve heard it said that the amount of stress and fear caused by researching all the current health threats actually damages our bodies far more than the toxins themselves ever could. I think there is a lot of truth to this statement!

While I’m all for following sound “life principles” such as taking care of our health, protecting our children, and avoiding outright stupidity, I have come to realize how easily fear can disguise itself as “wisdom.” Living in fear is not equivalent to living in wisdom. Rather, living in fear is living in disobedience to God. He doesn’t just suggest that we “fear not.” Instead, He commands us to not to fear: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9), and, “As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:6).

God desires us to smile at the future, not dread it. Proverbs 31:25 describes a godly woman, saying “she smiles at the future.” What a powerful concept! Imagine how joyful you could be each day if you were set free from the cares, worries, and concerns that often weigh you down. That is how God desires us to live!

So how do we make the shift from constantly fearing the “what if’s” to joyfully living by faith? I’d like to share a few practical ways that God has challenged me to develop the habit of smiling at the future instead of dreading it.

1. Surrender Your Children to God

In his powerful teaching series called The Pineapple Story, veteran missionary Otto Koning describes a time when he and his wife were living deep in the primitive jungles of New Guinea with limited medical supplies and sparse contact with the outside world. One night their baby daughter became deathly ill, and it didn’t seem that she would live until morning. There was no way for them to contact help or get her to a hospital. They prayed desperately for her all through the night, and finally knew what the answer was—to surrender her to God. They lifted up their daughter’s frail body to Heaven and whole-heartedly entrusted her ebbing little life into God’s hands: “She is not ours, Lord, she is yours. Do with her what You will.” Then the couple fell into an exhausted sleep. The next morning, Otto was almost afraid to open his eyes, afraid that he would see that his daughter had died during the night. But as he finally ventured to look at the small child lying next to him, he realized that she was peacefully sleeping and breathing normally. As they had surrendered their child to Him, He had healed her. As Otto says, “God takes very good care of what belongs to Him.”

My parents walked through a similar experience with me when I was four years old and in the hospital with severe pneumonia. The situation looked grim, and my parents knelt beside the bed to pray. They prayed for my healing, but my dad took it a step further: “We entrust our daughter to You, Lord. If You choose to take her or if You choose to heal her, we will trust You.” My mom was immediately resistant to the idea of giving God an option to take her child, but soon realized that the safest place she could entrust her child was into the arms of the Good Shepherd. As my parents surrendered me to Him, He showed Himself amazingly faithful.

I love the verse where Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me…and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

When we believe that we are the ones solely responsible for protecting our children, we will be gripped by constant worry and fear. But when we entrust them to God, we can rest securely in the fact that He will take care of them and fulfill His purposes for their lives, even in the moments when we cannot personally be there to protect them.

When we entrust our children to God, we can rest securely in the fact that He will take care of them and fulfill His purposes for their lives.

That is not to say that surrendering our children to God means that bad things won’t ever happen to them. But when God is in control of our lives and our children’s lives, He will always do what is very best for them and for us. When we have surrendered our children to God, we can confidently walk in the reality that, no matter what happens:

  • God can turn anything the enemy means for evil into good in our lives (see Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28).
  • He will not allow us to walk through trials we are not able to handle (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • Even when we walk through difficult circumstances, we can triumph through every challenge when we put our hope in Him (see Psalm 25:3).

Remember, there is no safer place for you or your children than in the center of His will!

2. Watch out for “Worldly Wisdom”

Worldly wisdom pressures us into making decisions out of fear. The wisdom of this world promotes notions such as, “If you don’t take this ground-breaking new supplement, you are bound to die an early death!” or “If you don’t feed your kids all-organic produce, they’ll never reach their full academic potential!” or (my personal favorite), “If you don’t breast-feed your baby until he’s at least two, he will never learn how to bond with you and will surely rebel when he’s a teenager!”

There’s nothing wrong with taking supplements, buying organic produce, or choosing breast-milk over formula for your baby. In fact, those may be great choices for your family. But be watchful of reading every new study on health, snatching up every trendy diet book that hits the market, and treating the advice of parenting magazines as gospel truth. Sure, you might find a few helpful tidbits through those channels, but more often than not, that kind of worldly wisdom does not flow from a foundation of Biblical Truth. When we become overly influenced by the wisdom of this world, we end up operating out of fear, rather than faith. Our security and confidence for our kids’ well-being should rest in only one Source—Jesus Christ—not in a health-food plan or three-step strategy for avoiding environmental toxins.

For instance, what if America was hit by a devastating war or extreme persecution broke out against Christians, as it has in so many other places around the world? Our ability to run to Whole Foods each week and buy all organic produce or grass-fed meats might be hampered. Do we trust that God would still sustain us and protect our children, even if we were to find ourselves in a situation where we can’t take vitamins or feed them green smoothies every day?

If you have been in bondage to worldly wisdom, ask God to renew your mind with His Truth. Consider whether there are certain books, blogs, magazines, or other information sources that you need to stop reading and listening to, so that you don’t build your life and thoughts around the world’s fear tactics and self-protective mindsets. And whatever decisions you make in the area of health and protection for your family, make sure they flow from a heart of faith toward God, rather than a fearful, paranoid, self-protecting attitude. Take time to read some of the powerful promises in Scripture about God’s amazing protection, such as Psalm 91, Luke 10:19, and Proverbs 3:23-26. Remember who your ultimate Source of protection and strength truly is! A more secure fortress we could never find!

3. Become Spiritually Offensive

Christian moms often take the brunt of the enemy’s attacks. Why? Because we are raising up world-changers for God’s kingdom. Satan knows that if he can keep us paralyzed with fear, we will spend all our time cowering and worrying rather than being strong for the calling God has placed upon our lives. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my journey to become a “fearless mother” is the concept of being spiritually offensive, rather than defensive. In other words, not just rolling over and playing dead when the enemy attacks me or my family, but resisting him in the strength and authority of Jesus Christ.

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Often when bad things happen in our lives or families, we don’t stop to consider whether they are trials being allowed by God, or attacks coming from the enemy. While the Bible makes it clear that our lives as Christians won’t be easy, there is a big difference between difficulties that God allows for the purpose of spiritual growth, and blows from the enemy that are designed to weaken and destroy us. When God brings tests, discipline, and trials into our lives, we are to submit to them. But when the enemy harasses us, we are to resist him. So how do we know the difference?

Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Take some time to study the difference between the nature of God and the nature of Satan in Scripture. Soon you will begin to recognize the difference between God’s hand and the enemy’s hand at work in your life. God’s trials bring about a greater spiritual strength to our souls, much like the difficultly and “pain” that comes with athletic training. It’s uncomfortable, but it serves to actually make us stronger and healthier. The enemy’s attacks only break us down and make us weaker, bringing hopelessness and defeat into our lives instead of spiritual strength. Once you learn to recognize enemy attacks upon your life and the lives of your children, you can begin to resist him in the power and authority that Christ has given you. This doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic experience. It can be a simple, silent statement such as, “Satan, I resist you in Jesus’ name. You must leave me and my family alone.” The key is to understand your position in Christ, and not to back down.

Once I began to practice resisting the attacks of the enemy, I was amazed at how much it helped me overcome fear. As I began to walk with the authority and confidence that God intended me to have, I realized that I didn’t have to put up with constant harassments from the enemy. I could resist him, and watch him flee before my eyes. There have been times, for instance, when it was clear to me that the enemy was hounding one of my children with nightmares. When I chose to wield my authority in Christ and resist the darkness that was attacking my child, the nightmares stopped.

Other times the enemy has hounded me with messages of despair and doom, attempting to paralyze me from walking confidently in my calling as a wife, mother, and ambassador of truth. Once I took authority and resisted his attacks, the fog and darkness lifted and I was able to see clearly, from a Heavenly perspective.

Ask God to show you whether there are any areas in which you or your children are being harassed by the enemy. Practice taking the authority that Christ has given you by resisting the enemy. Once you become spiritually offensive rather than letting the enemy have his way, you will gain a tremendous freedom from the bondage of fear.

Practice taking the authority that Christ has given you by resisting the enemy.

A quote from Leslie's Book, Set Apart Motherhood

Contrary to popular belief, our job as mothers is not to fret, worry and imagine the worse-case scenario. Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything of value and only brings turmoil into our lives. But resting securely in God’s faithful and loving care brings perfect peace to our souls.

-Set Apart Motherhood, Chapter 9