Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
It’s interesting how we overlook things that are commonplace until they somehow collide with our experience.
One day, not too many years ago, I literally stumbled across this sign in a favorite shop in Savannah, Georgia. My heart was heavy, and more precisely, I was afraid. I found myself in a circumstance that threatened to overwhelm my ability to keep my emotions in check. During the daylight, I could derail the scary feelings, but at night, they would loom large in my dreams and thoughts. I knew that God was with me, that He loved me, and would give me only good things. Even if He allowed bad things to happen, I clung tightly to His promise that He would work even those for my good. (Romans 8:28) But I was still afraid. Never in my life had I known the sheer, white-hot panic that taunted my normally logical thoughts. Logic led my thoughts of the future to an even scarier place, and I prayed and cried and quoted Scripture and . . . . still the fear nibbled at the edges of my consciousness, taking larger bites of my confidence for a favorable resolution.
Meditating on Scripture, the very God-breathed Word that gives life and hope, helped to calm the biggest waves of anxiety. But still, those relentless poundings of “What if?” beat against the peace that just wouldn’t seem to stay. I sought counsel from people wiser than I, read stories about conquering impossible odds, and tried to practice everything I had encouraged others to do. I walked miles at the park, praying and begging God to deliver me from the fear that threatened my health.
Finally, in absolute desperation, I cried out loud, “Lord, what am I missing?!” “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10a NKJV) was the thought that came, straight from the Bible. “ I can be still, even if I can’t still my pounding heart or the anxious thoughts,” I told myself as I sat perfectly still. “Be not afraid,” was the next thought. (Isaiah 41:10) – another Scripture I knew. “But HOW do I not be afraid, Lord, I don’t know how to DO it!” Joshua 1:9 began to part the mist of confusion: “for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” At last the peace came as I reached like a drowning swimmer reaching for a life preserver. When you’re drowning, you simply take the preserver and put . . . it . . . on. The presence of the preserver is designed to rescue only when the perishing person simply rests inside the buoyancy provided by the preserver. The reality that God is with me reached from my head to my heart. The anxious feelings still came, but now they were met with faith in the presence of my Heavenly Father. I floated above the waves of fear, secure in the nearness of the everlasting arms.
About the Writer:
Nan is so grateful to belong to God’s people. She loves getting to know all kinds of people and enjoys discovering new places, which is a good thing since she’s moved twenty five times. She has been married to Jim, a pastor, for 34 years, and together they have four grown kids, a son in love, and three grand puppies.