January 1, 2015

Trading Fear for Faith

Trying to sum up all that I am thankful for poses a challenge, for how is one supposed to put into words the wonderful blessings I have been privileged to enjoy?

My mind often goes to the spot at the altar of prayer where I first understood about my need for salvation. Being raised in the Gospel, I had always known every soul needs the Lord, but there was a time when that fact just clicked. That moment was on a Sunday morning when I was four years old. I was saved that day. The devil puts skeptical thoughts in our minds when a child says he or she knows about being saved. Although I did not fully understand salvation, I realized that I needed God. I clearly remember getting up from the altar of prayer that morning, and it was the happiest moment of my childhood.

Coming into my pre-teenage years, there were times when I wavered in my relationship with God. Then on January 27, 2007, it occurred to me that tiptoeing around my commitment was a sad commentary on any relationship, let alone a relationship with the King of the universe who deserves our full attention. That night I resolved to give God all or nothing. Thank God, I made the right choice! Kneeling at my bedside, I made a commitment to be completely and fully His forever.

My heroes had a role in bringing me to the point of salvation. Some children wish to become Superman or some celebrity, but I just wanted to be like my grandpa. I loved Grandpa Taylor more than anything and depended on him. When he died, my relationship with my other grandfather, Grandpa Copko, became even deeper than it had been. Then he died also, and it felt as if everything was changing. Now I understand that I had been depending on them more than God. When we hear it said that people will let us down, the saying does not just refer to wrong doings. It means that God is the only One who will always be there for us. My grandfathers’ deaths taught me to understand trusting in God in a whole different light. Trials like these help make a Christian stronger.

One summer, my greatest fear came true, and now I can thank God for that circumstance. I had long experienced recurring nightmares of not being able to breathe in cold, dark water. For months, God had asked, “Would you trust Me with your greatest fear?” I didn’t answer because I did not want to say yes if I was not sure. Then in 2009, I went body boarding. While waiting for a big wave, suddenly I was swept into the water. The current was much stronger than my swimming ability, and within seconds I had no idea which direction was up or down.

Having just read a book about a Navy SEAL who said those who panic in the ocean almost always die, I kept calm with God’s help, and did not fight the waves. Opportunities to breathe when you are being tossed in the surf are few and fleeting, but God helped me breathe at the right moments. Then my head came out of the water, and time seemed to stand still. I’m sure I could not have been above the water for more than a moment, but it felt like forever. It seemed the sun was on the opposite side of the sky creating a beautiful sunset over the hills. A sense of perfect peace overwhelmed me, though I knew how easy it would be to die in this situation.

God’s Spirit spoke to my heart, “Moriah, don’t you think I can handle your fears?”

As the Lord allowed me to ride a wave to the shore, the thought came to me, Who can hold my fears if not Jesus? Even if I might think I have control, wouldn’t it be much better to be in the hands of the One who created me? God’s Spirit spoke to my heart, “Moriah, don’t you think I can handle your fears?” This was the real moment of truth, and I completely gave all my fears to God. The thought of an unpleasant death is never fun, but I know now that He can give complete peace in place of fear.

The story of seeking my sanctification is an account of my stubbornness. In ta prayer service at camp meeting as an eleven-year-old girl, I knelt by the center flower arrangement below the pulpit and tried to reach God on my own terms. Let me tell you, giving God a list of “I will nots” isn’t a good way to pray! For an hour or more I stayed there and tried to negotiate with God. Why do we make simple things so complicated? Finally, I gave in to the small thing God asked of me—raising my hands in prayer. My fingers were just above my head when I was overcome with a wave of peace. Right there God sanctified my soul!

The night I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, a friend had come to town for a visit. During the service, all the things I wanted to tell her were running through my mind. We knelt near each other at the altar, and she began to pour her heart out to God. As she prayed intently, I began to feel the Spirit as He flowed around us. Soon my eyes were filled with tears, too. We hear often in testimonies that people do not notice how long they have been praying when they are being blessed. My experience was no different. Four of us spent hours praising God, and He filled our hearts. When we finally stood, we saw the church was empty except for a few friends and family. In my mind had been a list of ways that I did not want to pray—not loudly, not shedding tears, without reaching out, and so forth. But how was God supposed to use me if I was unwilling to do such simple things for Him? He cannot be put in a box. If I limit the ways I will commune with Him, how can He bless me? Every single point on my list occurred the night God filled me, but every fear faded when God poured out His Spirit.

So, how is a person supposed to tell what God has done for him or her? We stammer out how we are thankful. We try to describe to those who do not know Him how much we all need Him, and how everything else in the world pales in the light of His glory. But in the end, our testimony is the way we live our lives. Thank God for the people He has placed in my life who live their testimonies. Without them, I do not know where I would be. And my prayer is that God will help me be such a testimony to others.

apostolic faith magazine