The end of my rope? Nothing left to give? No more strength to fight? Yes, welcome to my yesterday.
After a full 2 weeks of fighting sickness in the Heerlyn home including: a sick birthday, a week of missed school and an ER visit, I thought we were finally in the clear. Then it happened. On the way to school to drop Alliyah off, I looked in the rear view mirror to see Joshua vomiting. I quickly pulled the car over just in time to swing the door open to the back seat as round two was ramping up. There really is nothing you can do when your child is strapped in a 5 point harness and the “stuff” is all over and it just keeps coming.
In that moment, I’m pretty sure I looked over my shoulder for someone who could jump in and take over. You want to tag someone else and say, “You’re it,” only, YOU are it. I knew that if I turned around and cleaned him up at home, Alliyah would be very late for school and then it could happen all over again. So I cranked a window and the heat and drove on. When we finally got back home, my poor little buddy was soaked in his “stuff,” and I was just about sick from smelling it the whole drive.
I got him all cleaned up and settled on the couch in front of the TV. Then it hit. The adrenaline rush was gone and shear exhaustion set in. After 2 weeks of being stuck at home and fighting my own battle with sickness for the latter half of that time, I was mentally spent and physically exhausted. Yet ahead of me stood piles of laundry, the need to pack for a long road trip, and a doctor’s appointment in less than an hour to check and see if I might have skin cancer.
I have fought anxiety and panic-y-ness for about 10 years now. It began when I took my first real step to whole-heartedly follow after Jesus. All of the anxiety and panic is rooted in fear – usually the fear that I will throw up or faint. If I feel sick, I freak out and almost make myself more nauseous in the process. If I am in a new situation (like a doctor’s office or jury duty), my heart can start to pound and I start feeling light-headed. I have experienced freedom from this fear over the years as I have fought with the truth and authority that Jesus gave us. But yesterday I was not feeling victorious.
When you read about anxiety, the word “control” always seems to sneak its way in. I am in agreement that often times anxiety and the perceived need to control are closely linked, but I think there is also another form of anxiety that is simply fear-based. I could argue that fear is really the perceived absence of control, but let’s not make this more complicated. As I struggled yesterday, I did not feel any need to control my environment. Obviously, I would have liked to snap my fingers and make things the way I wanted, but my anxiety was not rooted in what was happening now. It was rooted in what COULD happen. I can handle the here and now. I handled the puke in the back seat. I handled the doctor’s appointment where they painfully numbed, then scraped three places on my body. I handled grocery shopping with two glaringly obvious bandaids on my face. But whenever anxiety was present, it was not present because of what was happening now, it was present because of what I feared would happen. I feared Joshua would throw up again. I feared more pain. I feared having to answer questions. Fear.
I really do know all the Christian things that people tell you. I know that God won’t give me more than I can handle. I know that God’s heart is good. I know that I have a boat-load of authority to exercise against the evil one. My problem was not found in lack of “know”ledge. The problem was in feeling too tired to exercise all that I know. Am I alone here?
The truth is, even though you may have the tools, the will to fight is also needed. Having a weapon (God’s word and prayer and your voice) is only helpful if you are willing to use it when confronted with an enemy. Some times it is so very difficult to fight. Yesterday was one of those days. The enemy taunts you telling you, “You have already lost. It won’t make any difference if you pray or say His name. You just have to endure this.” In my weakness, I almost gave in. I was weary. I did not want to fight any more. I knew, I mean I KNEW, it was a battle and I knew I needed to fight, but I just had nothing left. Enter Jesus.
The gracious, loving voice of God says something like, “You’re too tired NOT to exercise all that you know. If you know I won’t allow too much into your life that it will overcome you, then make sure you do not try to handle it all on your own. I am here. If you know that my heart is good, then don’t turn your gaze away from me and onto earthly things (like puking or fainting). If you know that you have authority, then use it. Live by the Spirit and in the spiritual realm, and you will overcome the physical one.”
I found myself telling God that I had nothing left. I told Him that I knew I needed to fight, but I did not feel like I could do it any longer. Have you ever been in a situation that you knew would make you stronger, but you almost didn’t want to embrace the growth or strength because you were fearful that the next challenge down the road would be even harder because of this awesome strength you were building? Maybe I am the only one who thinks like that. Regardless, Kris Vallotton, a pastor with Bethel Church in Redding California, has a good word for people like me.
Kris Vallotton says something along the lines of, “Don’t try to look at tomorrow with today’s grace.” God has only given us enough grace for today. If we try to look at tomorrow, while living on the measure of grace we have been given for today, we won’t have enough. We have been given all that we need for TODAY. And tomorrow, we will have more than enough grace for tomorrow, but we won’t get tomorrow’s grace until tomorrow. (Kinda like the manna in the Old Testament)
So…the grace for today:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis added).
Pray, and do not give up until you receive the peace that transcends your circumstances. I am prone to give up if the peace does not immediately settle on me like a blanket the moment I begin to pray. Remember that the battle is thick, but your victory is already guaranteed because of Jesus. Once His peace rests on you, it is like a protective coating over your mind, preventing further anxiety from entering. Fight for peace. The battle is won, when you use your voice and cling to God’s voice (the Bible). You may feel limited, but His grace is unlimited (and is enough for today)…