By Nancy Virden (c)2020
I can’t wait to read all the end-of-year summaries and poignant reflections about 2020 when the New Year comes around. Different points of view will probably be as numerous as there are people.
We are each challenged this year to find new ways to cope. For those who struggle already with mental illnesses, behavioral health issues, emotional instability, addictions, and destructive relationships, this year is no doubt especially hard.
My heart goes out to people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and agoraphobia (fear of leaving home) because so many warnings about staying home and sanitization have probably triggered some. I pray for people whose anxiety and losses have developed into depression and even suicidal thoughts. I also pray for children and others stuck in abusive homes. Clients who typically see a therapist in person have had to settle for phone or video chats while recovering addicts have lost many face-to-face 12-step meetings.
There’s a silly scene in the old television show Perfect Strangers. Two men fall into quicksand and reach for a branch nearby to pull themselves out. One man, however, is willing to climb over the other resulting in physical comedy and laughter.
God put a different picture in mind this week during my meditation on him. In this mental scene, I was swimming underwater escaping a battle on the surface. Holding my breath, it seemed I maybe had six seconds left. Jesus, whose face was in front and facing me, said “just breathe.”
He had not lifted me to the surface mind you, so it was logical to realize the danger. After a brief hesitation, the memory of Peter walking on water raised my faith. The same Lord capable of keeping Peter on his feet could do what is best for me whether water filled my lungs or not. Clenching my eyes like a child on a dare, I took a deep breath.
It was air. Jesus had created an air pocket surrounding my face. It was traveling with me. He was still in front, neither swimming nor standing still. He was only there, his bright presence lighting the area between us. He watched me with joy, in confident serenity.
Laughing in sheer excitement and worship, I said, “This is amazing! You are wonderful – the God of the impossible! In your mercy and love, you have kept me here for a reason. I trust you.”
Remembering a recent conversation about the walls of water in the parted Red Sea, I continued. “I’m curious how the water looks against the sides of the air pocket. May I look around?”
The end of Peter’s walking on water experience came to mind. Because fear led to his terrifying fall, and because of my history of paralyzing anxiety, I knew to question simple human wisdom. To Jesus, I said, “Or would that make me afraid and sink?”
He said, “Keep your eyes on me.”
And so I did. Aware that he always knows what is happening above the surface and beyond the air pocket, that he is in charge of my past, present, and future, curiosity submitted to rest. I swam forward into the unknown with perils above and circumstances below demanding that I should fail. My eyes stayed fixed on his, and he gave me his peaceful joy.
What this means for you
Visions and dreams must never take the place of the Word of God in our understanding of him. The point of this story is that when we believe God’s Son and turn our eyes to him alone, he promises peace that surpasses human understanding. In other words, he offers an amazing gift of mercy and love. This air pocket of peace travels with us throughout life’s emotional, physical, relational, mental, and spiritual dangers. We can breathe.
And in due time, we will laugh.
Today’s Helpful Word
Luke 6:20-21 (ESV)
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.., Carlo Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved