By Jackie Buckingham

I still remember the first time fear entered my heart. I was 2 years old and stood crying next to my mother as we peered out the front screen door of our home in Vero Beach, Florida.

I often cried as a young child, and my mother would become frustrated in her attempts to calm me. As we stood there that day, a bent, scraggly man, carrying all his belongings in a sack slung over his
shoulder, shuffled past on the sidewalk. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him-and feared him. His name was Sammy.

“Jackie, if you don’t stop crying,” my mother said in exasperation, “I’m going to tell Sammy to come and get you.” Then she cupped her hand around her mouth and pretended to call, “Sammy, come get Jackie…”

I was horrified. My young mind was paralyzed with the fear of being abandoned into evil hands. From that day forward, my mother knew she could stifle my tears by calling, “Sammy…”

The fear never left.

As I grew up, I was afraid of the darkness. If I returned home in the evening from a church or school function and our house was dark, I would sit on the curb under the streetlight until someone else from my family arrived and turned on the house lights.

I was also terrified of being alone. Then, at the age of 16, I met Jamie Buckingham-an athletic, popular boy from the good side of town-and I instantly fell in love. I thought I’d never have to be alone again.

Through those courting years, Jamie became my security and my life. I had no ambition except to be the wife of Jamie Buckingham.

We married-but I soon found that my fears had not been left at the altar. We moved to an unfamiliar city where Jamie’s long days at seminary and long nights driving a bus to support our small family quite often left me alone. Night after night, I sat by myself in our little home with all the lights on.

Later, as our family grew and Jamie began pastoring, a worse fear took hold. I was afraid I’d lose my precious husband-whether to another woman, to his ministry, or to something else I couldn’t identify.

I had no peace.

Peace in the Storm

I should have had peace. After all, I had given my life to Jesus as a teenager. And as a pastor’s wife, I knew by heart all the Scripture verses pertaining to God’s promises of peace.

But somehow I couldn’t overcome the stronghold of fear that had cemented itself like a lonely fortress in my heart. Peace-that true, deep inner peace that transcends all outward circumstances-eluded me.

My breakthrough came shortly after Jamie returned from a Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting in Washington, D.C., in February 1968. He bubbled with excitement as he told me about being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant; but in the following weeks I saw so many positive changes in Jamie’s life that I wanted it, too.

Like Jamie, when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, my life was changed-forever. Suddenly I was able to draw on a reserve of peace I had never known. Fear no longer controlled me (though it could still
tempt me). Its stronghold was broken by the power of the Holy Spirit. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Since then, that perfect peace has anchored me through the storms of my life. Many times I have experienced His voice speaking to the winds of those circumstances: Peace, be still. But in the first few years, since my husband Jamie’s first diagnosis of cancer in the summer of 1990 to his death 18 months later in February 1992, I’ve had to draw more deeply than ever before upon the Holy Spirit’s reserve of peace.

Jamie’s death was no mere storm. It was a hurricane-devastating my life, my hopes and my future as thoroughly as Hurricane Andrew devastated the homes and businesses in nearby south Florida later that same year.

Through it all, however, I’ve been overwhelmed by the reality of peace as a fruit of the Spirit-not a factor of comfortable circumstances or a “don’t worry, be happy” mind-set. When Jamie died, my worst fear came to pass. And yet the pain I’ve experienced has been born of deep sorrow and grief, not fear. God has been faithful to give me peace in the midst of the worst hurricane of my life.

I remember being startled in the first few months after Jamie’s “homegoing” when I would find myself singing a praise chorus or humming a familiar hymn. I couldn’t understand it. You’re not happy, I would
remind myself, so why are you singing?

Slowly, I came to realize that deep within me, deeper than all my sorrow and pain, was the unmistakable mark of the Lord’s presence: peace that passes all understanding-the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God!

Stayed on God

On my refrigerator hangs a handwritten Scripture verse that ministered greatly to Jamie during his illness-and it ministers to me today: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee” (Is. 26:3).

That verse has been a lifeline this past year as I’ve struggled with the threat of depression. Satan has dangled before me the thought of “giving up” like a carrot on a stick. But every time that I’ve been
tempted to climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and stay there, I instead have rebuked Satan and run for the safety of the cross. There, Jesus bore not only my sins, but also my griefs and sorrows (Is.

Rather than allowing me to wallow in self-pity, our dear, loving Savior is teaching me to “stay my mind” on Him. I’m learning to walk through my grief comforted by the knowledge of the Lord’s promise: “Surely I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20, NIV).

I have peace-because He has given it freely. Just as the blossoming fruit tree outside my window produces oranges without effort or strain, so the Holy Spirit provides peace as a natural by-product of His life in me. I am content, knowing that He is my strength and my security. He is my peace.

(The above information was published by CHARISMA, May 1993)

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