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When Fear Holds Us Back

My wife and I have four cats, three girls and one boy. Two of the girls are sisters and we adopted them when they were eleven weeks old. Up until that point they had never been handled and were clearly feral cats. Feral cats are highly suspicious and fearful of any human contact. If approached they will usually back away, hiss and even howl, and if cornered, they behave just like a wild animal (which is what they are). Generally speaking, if kittens aren’t handled (picked up, stroked, and cuddled) in the first seven weeks, then it is likely that they will never break free from their feral behaviour.

One of the sisters, JoJo, did eventually change quite suddenly (often this is the case when a feral cat decides to overcome their fear and trust a human being). But her sister, Tilly, never managed to fully trust us. Tilly is very sweet and is now happiest living most of the time indoors, especially as she has grown older, and when the weather is unpleasant. The only place where we can stroke her without any problems is inside her cage. They each have their own cage at night. Strangely, because it is an enclosed environment, she feels the safe there and will let us stroke her, tickle her and generally make a fuss of her. We can hear her purring, and she will roll over and let us stroke her tummy. Outside the cage she is wary, and won’t let us get anywhere near stroking her, but she will take little titbits from our fingers, as her desire for tasty food overcomes her fear, to a large extent.

Why am I telling you all this? Because some people can be like Tilly in terms of their relationship with God. Things may have happened to them in the past and they consciously, or subconsciously have a fear of God as they think He will treat them the same way they have been treated in the past. Or maybe they hold God at a distance because they blame Him for the pain and loss in their lives.

Like Tilly, such people often feel safest when they have their own protection around them (their cage). There they allow God in under their terms, but the rest of the time He must be kept at arm’s length.

I believe God feels the same way towards us as my wife and I do towards Tilly. We love her unconditionally. We realise it’s not her fault that she behaves as she does. We provide for her, love her and want so much to be allowed in to show her the love that we know, deep down, she desperately craves for, but her fear prevents her from receiving. We don’t take her rejection of us as personal, but we wish she could understand how much we really love her and would do anything for her.

Are you a Tilly? Are you pushing God away or just not letting Him get too close? God wants to remove your fear and change that ingrained response towards Him. Maybe today it’s time to bring to Him whatever it is that holds you back from letting Him into every part of your being. If you know what the cause of it is then bring it to God and confess it and ask Him to heal you from the inside out. If you are unsure of what it is, or really don’t know, then the first step to your healing is to ask Him to show you. God doesn’t want you to be a human version of Tilly because, unbeknown to her, she is missing out on so much love that we want to show her, and so are you.

If you can identify with this, you might like to say the following prayer.

Prayer: Dear Lord. I realise that I am fearful at times of letting You get too close to me. I shy away from You because of hurt and pain and confusion in the past. I choose now to invite You into my hurting places. I ask You to help me bring them to You and ask You to heal me from within, so I may fully experience Your incredible love. Amen.
 

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Scripture

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1a, NIV

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Today's Writer

Philip Asselin Philip is on the associate ministry and teaching teams at Glyndley Manor. He, and his wife Gillian, attended the second Healing Retreat at Glyndley Manor in 1992, and were greatly helped. They have two grown-up children, a daughter living locally and a son in California. They have two young grandchildren and one step-granddaughter. Their desire is to see people set free to serve God.

Philip Asselin


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