Before I met Jesus in 2010, my life was ruled with fear and anxiety due to a terrible stutter that greatly hindered my ability to communicate. Every day consisted of sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. I planned my day around avoiding situations that required me to speak to another human. I would act like I didn’t have my homework in school so I didn’t have to read aloud. I would write my order down at restaurants rather than telling the server. My life was infected with anxiety. I tried every medication you can imagine and the only thing that “worked” was a handful of Klonopin or Xanax, a couple bong hits, and a syringe full of heroin.
On Christmas Eve of 2010 I heard the Gospel. Jesus saved me out of drug addiction and made me into a new creation. Soon afterwards, He called me to preach the Gospel and share my story. Jesus began to miraculously heal my speech. He opened doors for me to speak at churches, camps, rehabs, and in 2015 Chris Dew Ministries was born. I have traveled all over the world to speak to tens of thousands of people. God has opened my mouth to preach the Gospel and we’ve seen thousands of people respond.
This opportunity has been incredible, but each time I spoke, fear and anxiety would rear its ugly head. Preaching became a burden rather than a joy. There were many times that I would get to a big event and not even want to preach due to the fear and anxiety. I thought anxiety was just part of my cross to bear and was my “thorn in the flesh”.
Over the past few months, God has opened my eyes to some truths in His Word that have freed me from this bondage. As I am writing this, I have just finished a busy camp season and my soul is truly at rest. Typically camp season has been marked by "too much preaching” and the desperate need for rest due to anxiety, but this year it’s been marked mainly by deep soul-rest and the peace of God. I am definitely not the expert in the area of fear and anxiety, but I want to share what God has taught me in hopes that others who struggle with deep rooted anxiety could experience true freedom and deep peace.
1- Anxiety is not God’s best for your life.
For years, I believed that because the remnant of my speech impediment was part of my thorn in the flesh, anxiety was also a part of that cross to bear. God brought me to this beautiful passage in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus…” I began to see that the speech impediment may be my thorn in the flesh, but anxiety was not God’s best (or His will) for my life. It wasn’t until I began to separate these two things that I began to experience the freedom and peace God desired for my life. God does not want your life to be plagued with anxiety either. The words “fear not” are scattered hundreds of times throughout the Bible. God accepts us as we are when we come to Christ, but He loves us too much to leave us in our anxiety. The Gospel has paid for our freedom. "By His wounds we are healed," and that includes the area of anxiety.
2- We have more power than we think.
Over the past year or so, I have been learning more about the Holy Spirit and the authority we have in Him. Jesus said “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” (Acts 1:8). Luke (9:1; 10:19) also records that Jesus has given us power and authority over all the powers of the enemy and evil spirits. I have been learning how to walk in this power and authority in many areas of my life. If you are in Christ, you have access to this same power!
“God did not give you a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love, and sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Paul clearly sees some fear and timidity as a spirit rather than just mere emotion. If fear is a spirit and I have authority over evil spirits, then I have the authority to cast out fear. At first this sounded "overly spiritual" to me, but it has played a powerful part of my freedom from anxiety. I have began praying with the authority of Christ to cast out anxiety and true peace has flooded my heart. If you are in Christ, you have authority over all evil spirits, including the spirit of fear and timidity.
3- Keep moving when you smell the lion’s breath.
I heard someone say once that there will be many times in your life as you follow Jesus that you will smell the breath of the lion (aka the enemy). In that moment you have the decision to keep moving in spite of the stench or to shrink back in fear. Throughout my preaching experience, I have smelled the breath of the lion right before I get on stage to speak and have chosen to press on in spite of the foul smell of fear.
Freedom from anxiety is often a process of learning to walk in freedom rather than an overnight event (although it can be). Until the miracle of complete freedom happens let’s continue to press on in spite of the lion’s breath. The space where you smell his breath the strongest is normally the space God is going to use you the greatest.
In Daniel 3, as the three Hebrew boys are about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshipping the golden statue, they say, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us, but even if he doesn’t, be it known to you, o king, that we will not serve your gods…” They knew God could deliver them from their circumstances, but even if he didn’t, they were going to stay the course and stay faithful. Let’s have the same posture with anxiety. Let’s know God is all-powerful and is able to deliver us, but even if the process takes longer than we hope, we will stay faithful and press on in our calling in the face of the enemy.
This is not to say that all cases of anxiety are the same. There are many situations where the common graces of counselors and medical professionals can and should be utilized. I have personally benefited greatly from a counselor.
God doesn’t want us to be trapped by anxiety. He wants us to trust Him completely to provide for every single need we have emotionally, relationally, and materially. He is a Good Father who cares about you deeply. Let’s walk in the authority He gives us as His kids. And through the mountaintops and valleys of this journey, let’s press on toward our calling in spite of the opposition. True peace is possible!
Where are you currently experiencing anxiety and fear?
Have you accepted this as part of who you are or have you acknowledged this is not God’s best for your life?
How can you wage war on your anxiety through the authority you have in Christ?
Where have you shrunk back due to fear rather than pressing on in spite of it? What do you need to start doing to move forward again?