I have been clenching my jaw for a while now. It started when I broke up with a friend earlier this summer. After five plus years of trying to fix her—not healthy for her or me—I chose to distance myself and in that process, my jaw-clenching habit began. It now has become my body’s go-to response to stressful situations. Like fear. Fear is something I’ve struggled with all my life.
Apparently I’m not the only one who knows about my fear factor. Two summers ago, we traveled to Puerto Rico and on the flight there, I felt God say, “Spend this week facing your fears.” Wanting to be obedient, and feeling significant bladder pressure, I headed to the airplane bathroom. I hate those things. The toilets flush with such force I worry that I’ll be sucked out of the plane into the sky where I’ll fall forever screaming, “I knew this would happen!” and, “Man, I hate heights!”
Bolstered by my initial success, during the next week, I tamped down my aversion to physical risks in order to enjoy a number of adventures with my family. We hiked steep trails, unfortunately devoid of safety railings, through the mountainous rain forest region. We kayaked in complete darkness through mangrove stands to marvel at one of Puerto Rico’s three bioluminescent bays. On a sailboat outing, I donned snorkeling gear and pressed my face into the aquamarine water over a dozen times until the I-can’t-breathe-I’m-going-to-die panic was replaced with a holy-cow-look-at-all-those-fish delight.
For me, it’s an ongoing battle—fighting fear. So much so, that I recently sought the Lord in the hours just before dawn. I told him I needed a fear-fighting plan, a system. He obliged, with a really cool acronym. FEAR: Fight Enemy Attacks with _____. But what does the ‘R’ stand for, Lord? Rhema. I’d heard the word before but didn’t recall its meaning so I Googled it and found this: “an utterance, a portion of scripture that speaks to a believer. The Rhema word is timely and extremely valuable in a Christian’s walk with God.”
But which scripture is my Rhema word? Good thing I had a pen in hand because immediately, God started firing verses at me and not just 2 Timothy 1:7 and Joshua 1:9. When he was done, I had a list of 10 verses. There seemed to be a process, a flow, so I wrote each one on a slip of paper. I then arranged them in an order that makes sense to me, that soothes my anxious heart. And now, each time I feel the tightness in my lower right jaw, I locate my paper-clipped stack of verses and review each one. It’s helping a lot!
If you feel tempted, afraid, inferior, unloved—by the way, negative emotions are almost always from the enemy, not God—I recommend you ask God for a Rhema word of your own.
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