… perfect loves drives out fear… — 1 John 4:18

Last summer, as I brushed away leaves and sticks from the coreopsis patch, it slithered past. You know what I mean by “it”, right?

Here’s the deal: I’m so frightened by certain scaly creatures, that it takes a certain amount of courage just to type the word.


There, I did it. Phew.

Anyhow, last spring, the surprise encounter turned me into a prisoner. For the rest of the summer, I rarely entered the flower patch. From the dining room window, I watched as weeds slowly overtook my landscaping.

Fear is a powerful thing. Look what creeps in when we’re chained by it.

One afternoon, as I observed new weeds under the river birch, my daughter Lydia enlightened me: If I saw snakes more regularly, she told me, I’d become less and less afraid of them.

I think she’s right. As a child, I saw snakes almost daily. I found them in the lilly-of-the-valley by the chicken shed, by my mother’s tomato plants, out by the evergreen patch where we’d bury our pets. These typical, garden-variety snakes from my childhood were nothing to fear.

Yet one unexpected encounter in my adulthood has taken me captive.

That’s the sort of fear I’ve been facing these last 12 days, ever since I collided with another vehicle on Highway 75. It has been difficult for me to return to the roads following my car accident. It’s been nearly two weeks, and I don’t know which is tighter: the fear gripping me, or my hands gripping the steering wheel.

But I’ve done it. I’ve gotten in my rental car over and over again, driving kids to preschool, going to Grandma’s, the doctor’s office, the grocery store. And at least two times a week, I drive past the site of the accident on my way to teach class here at the Dordt campus.

I made it safely past the accident site again, about an hour ago. And here I sit, at a campus computer, with my crutches propped on the desk. I’m safe. I’m healing.

I think it will take time. As Lydia said last summer, the more I face my fears, the less I will be held captive by them.

It will take time.

Time will loosen the grip on the steering wheel, loosen the grip of fear on my heart.

by | January 29, 2009 | 21 comments


  1. patty

    Oh Jennifer, you know how this topic is so close to my heart. Thank God he’s given you the strength to keep driving and I pray you’ll continue to experience healing in body and soul.

  2. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    I’m similar to your post, but not with snakes, though I still wouldn’t want to come across one. But I am this way with FROGS….ewwww, YUCK, groooosss!
    Especially TOADS!!! (Shiver!)….

  3. Chris Godfredsen

    Wouldn’t think someone 6-5, 475 would understand fear, would you? Praying His grace and mercy around all of those things that bind you – bind me.

    Praying for you in your travels today, tomorrow and the rest of your days.

    The amazing thing to me is that you are sitting there with your crutches propped up. I thank Him that He is obviously not through with you on this earth!

    Grace and peace to fear…

  4. Chris Godfredsen

    Wouldn’t think someone 6-5, 475 would understand fear, would you? Praying His grace and mercy around all of those things that bind you – bind me.

    Praying for you in your travels today, tomorrow and the rest of your days.

    The amazing thing to me is that you are sitting there with your crutches propped up. I thank Him that He is obviously not through with you on this earth!

    Grace and peace to fear…

  5. janelle

    Jennifer, I had an accident when I was about 19 years old on about the same stretch of road. There is hardly ever a time when I drive that piece of road that I don’t think about it. It happened on black ice and I was the 3rd car in a 4 car accident. I was not hurt – at all. But the gentleman that caused the accident was hurt badly. It took me a while to gain confidence on the roads again but God gave it to me, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

    Praying for peace to quickly replace fear.

  6. Miriam

    I know that fear, and though my accident wasn’t as severe as yours, it is as fresh as the day it happened each time I drive through the intersection.
    Hang in there…

  7. Chrissy

    Having been in a terrible car accident, I still have a little bit of fear, it never totally goes away. But with time I have been able to heal that fear, and drive again… now days, even weeks go by that I don’t even think about the accident when I’m driving. It will come. Prayers heading your way 🙂

  8. Jennifer

    Dear ones, Thank you for your kind thoughts and words. You’ve been such an encouragement to me, and offer hope in place of fear. A friend sent me a private email today after reading this post, and she reminded me that as I drive by that place, my fear can be replaced by the reminder that God rescued me, that the place is holy, that God was with me in that place.
    I want to grasp hold of that truth …

  9. Peter

    Fear is such a powerful force. I like to reverse that verse to remind myself of the other end: “Perfect fear drives out love.”

    Five years ago I found myself ACCIDENTALLY on a gay date. I don’t think I realized I was so afraid of homosexuals until I found myself not only confronted by it, but suddenly mistaken for it! I was so shocked at my fear of another human being (a child of God) that I began a lot of personal deconstruction. It’s a painful process to look in the mirror and realize I’m not as loving or gracious or “brave” as I thought.

    That was a tangent, sorry. But great post!!

  10. Carey

    Good for you, for facing your fear!! One day at a time.

    As a person that’s been in a few accidents myself, I’ve experienced a little fear, too. One time in college I fell asleep behind the wheel. I wasn’t hurt, PTL, but crossed the lane into oncoming traffic, up a hill, into the ditch and just missed a culvert. To this day, if I fall asleep in the car while Brandy is driving, if he hits a bump, etc, I’ll wake up with a start of fear and adrenaline. I read that that is actually a learned response by a gland in my head, or something.

    May any bit of fear/adrenaline that remains just serve to remind us both that God is always with us.

    Keep on, keeping on, girl! God’s got you by the hand, of that I am certain.

  11. Billy Coffey

    I’m with you on the snake thing, Jennifer. Not a fan.

    But oh, the wisdom of children! She’s right, you know. Small steps. That’s the key, I think. To most anything.

    Glad you’re getting up and around.

  12. Andrea

    YHWH… that’s what popped into my head as I read your post on fear. I’m studying His immutability – His unchangingness – Isn’t it good to know that the same God who protected you then protects you now? That nothing can happen to you outside of His sovereign will?
    Your posts are so encouraging to me – that you face real topics with such honesty – and Jennifer – I have used your posts to encourage others also… I shared the car accident post with my prayer team – and several emailed back that they had wept with you over God’s protection.
    Press on for His glory!

  13. Lori

    Good analogy. Your family is in my prayers. Have a great day!
    Keep up the good work.

  14. girlforgod

    Praying for God to release you of any fear and anxiety that You may have. I know it takes time, I know it’s a process, but God truly wants us to be free of that junk the devil just tries to destroy us with. May our Lord come and affirm His love for you in your heart and may you be lead to scripture that bring you more peace and understanding. Love and Hugs, your sister in Christ,Robin

  15. lynnrush

    Hang in there, Jennifer.

    It’s tough, but God can overcome any fear or worry.

    I’ll be prayin’ that he heals not only our physical wounds, but your emotional ones as well.


  16. Carol

    May you have the spirit of peace as you travel….the spirit of acceptance and praise and thanksgiving for all He has done for you and in you. Love, Carol

  17. Red Letter Believers

    I have a fear of failure…so I try extra hard at everything.

    And unfortunately, that makes me fail!

  18. sharilyn

    courage to you, my friend! each step you take into His arms is a step further away from fear! keep on baby-stepping!

    a quote i really like from a book i read — “Your courage is there, right alongside of your fear.” ~Elvira Woodruff, The Orphan of Ellis Island

    and…”Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” ~Dorothy Bernard

    ha! funny! my word verification is “decon”–as in, pest killer. appropriate word for this post. prayer and faith and confidence in God truly is DECON! 🙂

  19. Talkin' Texan

    I remember the same fear after my first “T-boned” experience. And you are right… I’ve had several accidents since then (none of them my fault) and now I just close my eyes and pray. I want to be talking to Him if I’m flung through the pearly gates at 70 mph.

  20. sharilyn

    jennifer, how did the drive to the retreat go for you?…thinking of you tonight and sending up a word or two to the Father on your behalf! 🙂

  21. Darlene

    OH! How hard it must be, friend.
    I just did a mini post on how fear grips me, and a scripture God is spreaking over my heart right now.
    May you have peace!



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