Confession: I am fearful…full of fear, I am!
Yes, I am a minister of the Gospel.
Yes, I believe God is big, strong, and mighty.
Yes, God has delivered me from more deadly situations than most.
Yet, I still live in fear.
On Wednesday, June 7, 2017 around 1:30 PM, with hands full of a hot lunch from Wendy’s…my world flipped upside down, literally. As I took the driver’s seat, preparing to deliver fast food vittles to my sister, I felt as if the car seat whirled backward. A fear-filled yelp escaped my lips, I closed my eyes, gripped my mother’s shoulder and waited to wake up in the hospital…waiting…waiting…waiting…
I did not lose conscious and I am still in the same time and space. What happened?
Both my mother and I asked the same question, she audibly, me silently.
“I feel like I am going to faint,” was my reply.
My, sometimes mentally feeble, mother managed to regain her strength of old and issued words of comfort and wisdom. Such were her words that my fluttering heart slowed its pace, and my shaking hands steadied. We locked eyes, and I was strengthened by the stilling peace of her gaze.
That day began what would turn into a three-month journey of unexplained vertigo. Initially, it came and went—lasting only minutes at a time, but then came July 14, 2017. My husband, Mark, and I, returning from a trip, prepared to deplane. For me, the normal rocking and reeling of the aircraft did not stop. Upon realizing I was the only passenger still feeling the tilt and toss only air pockets can bring, my heart began to race. I couldn’t look down without being pulled forward by earth’s gravitation-vision doubled, stomach nauseated, and my steps so unsteady, Mark had to firmly guide me to the car.
Internally I battled between whether to scream, “Take me to the emergency room,” or sit there and wait to keel over into Mark’s lap. I chose the latter…which never happened.
It was quite the dilemma, as we were heading home just to head out again. This time to one of Mark’s biggest conferences of the year. There was no time for me to die. Besides, I had tickets to see my favorite Women’s Bible Study leader, and there was no way I could go to the Great Beyond before that happened.
The point is…something was very wrong in my body, so I did what any good Christian would do- Googled WebMd. Yep, it was official, this was a life-threatening condition…WebMd does not lie!
As fate would have it, and when I say fate… I mean God, Mark and I made doctor’s appointments two days before the topsy-turvy, July deplaning debacle. We were simply looking for a new primary care physician; neither of us knew my vertigo would turn into a major life event. Little did I know, God was orchestrating the intersection of my fear and my faith.
July 28, 2017 was the set date. My faithfully fearful mind analyzed all the events and decided God was trying to tell me something, or do something in my life…I was heading into a faith building crisis. Although I had been praying to trust God more, I suddenly felt like turning tail. But, where would I go? How could I hide from the destination we all must face? I couldn’t!
As the date drew near, my daily devotional reading was filled with hints of my belief being true. My dreams began to haunt me as well. In them, I felt I was being warned of an impending doom. These thoughts, ever present, ever looming, began to interfere with work. My new charge as Exceptional Education Department chair was being challenged. Ministry opportunities hung in the balance of my doom-dimmed brain.
Appointment day…My new doctor and I fit together like peanut butter and jelly. She was the smooth calm I needed, assuring me there was an explanation for my wavering world, and it was not a brain tumor. She asked about my hearing and discovered at least one of my ears was filled with wax-perhaps an infection had set in. Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat specialist) appointment set and fears quelled, or so I thought.
Turns out my hearing was better than average, and the tiny beads in my ear were perfectly aligned-bottom line, not the cause of the vertigo. Oh no; back to WebMD I go! Several nights I found myself searching the web, inputting my symptoms; the results were not good. So, I returned to the doctor for a full physical. She too was perplexed.
“Ms. Brenda you are going to make me look in your head, huh?”
“Yep! What else could it be?”
She motioned for me to get on the table and conducted a neurological exam. Bloodwork was drawn, eye examination requested, CT scheduled and more wait time to go. The last thing my sweet physician said to me was, “I won’t call you unless I feel you are falling apart…otherwise, I’ll see you in two weeks when all your tests are in hand.”
My body decided it would show me just how many things could go wrong: headaches, dizzy spells, impaired vision, ringing in ears, muscle spasms, and intensified lower back pain. My heating pad even rebelled on me-burning a hole in my sheets while I slept atop it!
With the fear of what was to be mounting, and my faith being questioned on every hand, I glided through each day fearing my fears. My poor husband-I made the announcement of my illness and assigned him a new wife and directives on how that should happen. Just about bid the Bible study class I am teaching goodbye, and almost, almost allowed this fear to paralyze me to the point of running away from the looming doctor’s appointment. But, where was I going? I questioned how I could be so scared and believe that God is with me all at the same time. Then it hit me-something I heard a young preacher say- “Courage is just fear that has said its prayers.”
Satan tried to make me believe my fear was unnatural because I am a Christian, using God’s word against me…bringing up how many times the Bible stresses not to fear.
I felt unworthy to lead my bible class, unworthy to minister to those who have been assigned to my life, unworthy to finish the ministry projects I am working on. But that was Satan’s plan the whole time. By turning fear, a God-given warning tool, into a whip- intended to beat me into stagnation and continual contemplation of my standing with God. The problem was not my being afraid, the problem was I thought my faith was somehow diminished because of my fear. I falsely believed my fear prevented me from continuing the work God has assigned to my hands.
Thank God, I understand now!
Having a natural fear of something is alright. However, allow faith to intersect and run full steam ahead into whatever your fear is. Yes, the bible is clear-God did not give us a spirit of fear- a spirit, something that is with you all the time leading and guiding your decisions. God gave us His Holy Spirit and that is his job, to lead and guide. So, no…fear should not control our decisions. But, that does not mean fear does not have a purpose. Fear was created by God to signal when caution is needed, but Satan has turned it into a paralyzing spirit.
Satan’s plan was to prevent me from going to the doctor-keep me wondering what was slowing killing me while he was slowly killing the plan God has for my life. His goal was to put mental distance between me and God.
“You shouldn’t go to the doctor- that means you don’t trust Him.”
All the while, the fear of what was wrong and my trying to mask my concern would have shut down my life’s work. Faith intersected with fear says, I will run on into the darkness, into whatever the situation seeking to find resolution no matter what the end will be.
And I did, I went to that appointment and discovered my issue-it wan’t a brain tumor-it was fear intersecting my faith…translation, a migraine.
What else could it be-Satan is the biggest headache we can have. So, I am Psalms 91ing it for awhile…
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.