My parents have lived in the same house for as long as I can remember. It’s a normal sort of house, in a normal sort of neighborhood, where I had a normal sort of childhood. Except for something completely not normal—the creepy basement. I had been afraid of that basement for as long as I could remember. There would be times down there when I’d catch this strange sense of something creeping up on me or waiting just beyond my bedroom door in the dark to ‘get’ me. This irrational behavior could easily be explained away in children, but this sense of an ominous presence dwelling in the dark of the basement persisted into my mid-20s.
I was a grown woman and I was afraid of the dark.
In those moments I felt too afraid to call out, too afraid to move, too afraid to do anything and it shaped my life in very negative ways. I became irrationally convinced that bad things were going to happen to me and to my loved ones.
I was a slave to the spirit of Fear.
And then I met Jesus Christ and He set me free.
On June 2, 2002 (back in that same creepy basement at my parents’ house) having hit what I would describe as ‘rock bottom’ in my life, I called out to God, “If you’re really there, then please will You show up? I’m so messed up and I don’t know how to fix my life.” As I prayed that desperate prayer, the room began to fill with a presence…but it wasn’t like when the spirit of Fear came near. This was a glorious, companionable and powerful presence. I felt safe, and it was a new and wonderful feeling. I surrendered my sins and my pride and my darkness to God and I was filled with His holy presence—His Holy Spirit. My life changed forever in just a few moments and God really did transform me—I had experienced transformation, deliverance and hope. I was now a follower of Jesus!
Shortly after that, I was accepted at The War College, an incarnational, Biblically-based missions training school run by The Salvation Army in Vancouver, Canada. Through my training there, I learned about the power that is available to believers through the name of Jesus and I saw it at work in my midst. I read about Jesus’ encounters with demonic spirits in the New Testament. Clearly, even evil spirits acknowledged His Lordship and submitted to His power (Luke 4:41). Jesus was all about setting people free.
I wish I could say that at the moment of my salvation I was delivered from the power that Fear had over my life. Nope. I held onto that familiar influence (harmful and inhibiting as it was) until October of 2005. I was living in a basement apartment (of course!), and one night when I was all-alone, I felt that same dark and foreboding presence lurking in the room. It was a spirit of Fear. For years it had imprisoned me in my heart and mind, and I had always felt so powerless to do anything about it. That night, as anxiety and hopelessness stirred in me, I almost gave in. Almost.
It was time to act. I stood up and said out loud in very plain terms, “Go away fear, Jesus is stronger than you, and Jesus helps me not to be afraid.” Nothing happened. I could still feel that Fear close by, oppressive and mocking. So I repeated, “Go away fear, Jesus is stronger than you, and you’re not welcome here anymore.” It felt sort of awkward talking out loud like that, but it made all the difference for me, because as I spoke, I was reminding my own self of the power of the One who delivered me from darkness and rejection and self-hatred. Love became stronger than Fear. I was stirring up my inner faith and it was working. Fear was receding. I walked all the way to the end of the hall and opened the door to the cold Canadian winter. “Get out Fear, and don’t come back. Jesus is Lord of me and you aren’t welcome in my life anymore.” I shut the door and went back to the couch. There was no longer a dark presence in the room—just me and God’s Spirit and a whole lot of joy!
I felt exhilarated at having finally broken away from feeling powerless in the face of Fear. In that moment, I had taken advantage of the authority that is available to me through my relationship with Jesus and I had put my faith in the love of Christ rather than Fear. That evil spirit had no choice but to depart. Don’t get me wrong…I hadn’t seen the last of Fear! Every now and again (even to this day) I get that familiar sense that Fear is lurking nearby, just checking to see if I’ll let it back into my life. I am getting better and better at recognizing Fear and in response I pray out loud, and walk in faith, thankful for the love of Christ that has set me free. Friends, it is my deep desire that only one Spirit will ever have control and influence over my life ever again—and that is the Holy Spirit of God!
Lieutenant Heather Dolby | Corps Officer of Anderson