This past Monday night was the kick off for my church's Vacation Bible School (or Kids Camp, as they call it now). This is the first time in 11 years that I've never really been deeply involved in it. I'm just kind of there for support for two dear friends of mine who are heading up the station I'd done for several years. So there’s not much stress on me this time around, no running around like the crazy woman that I can be, decorating, setting up, trying to buy every item for our room that I think we could possibly need for the week (it’s the snack room for VBS station leaders and helpers). All I really did for the first night was to print out a sign for the door so people knew where we were, burn a music CD to play in the background as the volunteers sit and relax and chat for a few minutes during their break, run out to buy some coffee from Dunkin Donuts, and then help with clean up at the end of the evening. Compared to other years, this was a cake walk.
My kids and I returned home close to 10:00 PM, and got ready for bed. I was really tired, not because of anything I did (again, all minimal stuff), but because it’s extremely humid this week with temps soaring into the high 90s. Even with air conditioning, this weather just drains me. I laid down in bed, all prepared to get a good night's sleep and.....my heart started to pound, and my mind began racing faster than NASCAR driver Kyle Busch at the Nationwide Series race this past weekend.
And the thoughts that were on parade....so absolutely frightening and ugly. I lay there paralyzed for awhile by the fear and anxiety that suddenly had me in its grip. I tried to pray, but couldn't. Those dark, anxious thoughts just kept tripping me up. I tried quoting Scripture in my head, but I couldn't remember a single one. I kept getting stuck. It was like I was brain dead and that scared me even more. I tried deep breathing exercises...yeah, those exercises they teach you during childbirthing classes that NEVER WORK while you're in labor. Well, they didn't work this time, either. I tossed, I turned, I sat up, I cried, I went downstairs for water and grabbed my iPod, hoping music would distract and calm me. Wrong. I can probably name every single, solitary song I listened to in my musical library. NOTHING helped. And those ugly, dark, fearful and anxious thoughts just kept coming, surrounding me, dancing around in my brain. I realized that this was no doubt spiritual warfare, a horrific attack on my mind and my heart, although for the life of me, I can't see that I'm doing anything tremendous for the LORD this year at VBS, so why all the flaming missiles headed my way? Maybe because both of my teens are involved as volunteers? Perhaps even our smallest, most humble acts of service for the LORD are able to cause some big ripples in the lives of other people, big enough ripples to enrage the enemy and bring us under attack. Knowing this, however, did nothing to comfort me. I felt like I was dying. All I could do was whisper the Name of Jesus, over and over, begging Him for some relief.
"Bring Me all your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn't have. Fear and anxiety still plague you. Feelings per se are not sinful, but they can be temptations to sin. Blazing missiles of fear fly at you day and night; these attacks from the evil one come at you relentlessly."
YIKES!!! He KNEW!! Why did I think my LORD hadn’t been listening, that He wasn’t aware of my awful plight? Of COURSE He heard and knew. I eagerly looked up the Scripture references for that day, and Isaiah 12:2 was the verse that I held tightly to throughout the day:
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
Later in the day, the LORD used a phone call, three email messages and a face book chat from three sweet sisters-in-Christ (thank You, Jesus, for Cecilia, Toni and Linda!) to bring me some much needed encouragement and prayerful support. Linda, who sent me the three separate emails, had NO idea what I was going through at the time, yet each email was brimming with God’s Word, and messages from Him that I needed to hear to remind me that He was in control, He was for me and not against me, He was on my side, He was holding my hand, I could cast ALL my anxieties on Him, and that His perfect peace would guard my heart and my mind through this attack and future attacks. All those truths I seem to forget about when I'm falling apart at the seams.
I’m happy to say that as the day went on and into Night Two of VBS, I was no longer tired, in pain, cranky or anxiety ridden. No small miracle to me! My mind slowed down to normal, my fearful thoughts had stopped bombarding me and I felt a peace that could only have come from Jesus. And, later, I was able to get 7 ½ hours of sweet, uninterrupted sleep! I’m so thankful to my Jesus for these simple, yet to me, powerful blessings.
I’ve included the beautiful picture that my friend, Linda, sent to me in one of her emails. It’s a picture taken at Sandy Cove, where our church holds its annual women’s retreat, and it’s a place which I always associate with the LORD’s perfect peace and true, loving presence. I'm in awe that He knew exactly what I needed.
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God…
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against? ~ Our God, by Chris Tomlin