Sometime around age 15, my youth pastor showed an end-time movie where the rapture had already happened and those believers who remained (and I question why they remained) were given the choice to stand for Christ or die. One young girl, my age at the time, was beheaded in a horrifying scene.
Yeah, what you're thinking.
Needless to say, that movie scared the living daylights out of me, or perhaps into me because I said that day, I would never let anyone talk to me about prophecy again, especially not about the book of Revelation. I meant that and kept my word. More than once, a preacher chose prophecy as his topic, in the years after that, and I walked out. No one would do that to me again.
Now, in case you are not aware, I just turned 50. From age 15 to 50 is a lot of years to be afraid. But in fact, though I struggled with fear in other areas, I didn't know I was still afraid of prophecy. I didn't know one fear allowed in all others and wasn't conscious of how much that fear ruled my life.
There are a lot of people bashing the prophets right now and tossing out what they have said, I submit, largely out of ignorance and fear. What they don't know about God's voice and His heart keep them from having understanding, and thereby, walking by faith. They miss the joy of salvation entirely, that thrill knowing God can and will do something crazy great and amaze everyone. God's joy and your fear are incompatible.
I build my endurance daily, aware of my mental shortcomings. It does me no good to be defensive of my inadequacies. I have discovered that usually what I am avoiding or not accepting from God is because I really don't want to either (a) make the effort to change (laziness) or (b) I am afraid because of a misunderstanding of His ways.
I have learned, where fear is concerned, to examine my heart instead of criticizing God and other believers. 99.9% of the time, the issue is within me. God would not have us be either afraid or ignorant. (2Co 2:11) Therefore, if I am afraid, and I don't understand what I see, something in me needs to change. The instant I open my mouth to criticize or spew hatred and strife, a Holy Spirit alarm goes off in my head. That is NEVER how God would have me REACT. God wants better for me, and in fact, I should RESPOND in love and mercy instead, but to do that the fear has to go.
Take my fear of prophecy, for instance. I could not share what He has given me this last year and also hold onto the images frozen in my head at age 15. They stood in the way of God's plan for me. Though I had surrendered my heart to Him, my ignorance and fear stopped my ears to His voice. Frankly, I didn't give that any thought and considered myself okay. I wasn't. God could see in me what I couldn't.
That gives me such huge relief! God can do in me what I am often aware of.
God set me free from my old fear without asking my permission to do it. He never held up a huge sign with an arrow saying, "Do this!" He didn't condemn me for staying that way. I never fought some huge weight of guilt. He guided a book by Rick Renner into my hands. Even having acquired it, I resisted reading. I declared I would never ever read that. "I don't know why I bought it!" I said. I then buried it in the bottom of the book basket forever.
Except, one Sunday, I decided to read the first chapter. I'd prove that I didn't need to know anything about end times. God would be back in the slot I'd created for Him. But hours later, I'd read the entire thing and every bit of that fear was gone. Completely. And, bonus, in the days that followed, I heard God speak some amazing truths about my life, my friends and family members, and this nation.
You simply have no idea how incredible God is.
So, instead of limiting Him to your natural understanding, instead of settling for how things always are, determine to examine your heart and change. God can use you in ways you do not expect. I am proof.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
Suzanne D. Williams, Author