“Only the self-deceived will claim perfect freedom from fear.”– Bill W. (Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)
The cold swept in just ahead of the dark; the coldest day so far this winter, with overnight temperatures forecast at twenty below. We pulled into the driveway after a long day at the emergency room, tired and hungry and six thousand dollars poorer than we were at breakfast. If I didn’t know that God had a plan for all my days (Psalm 139:16) I might have been tempted to knock a few off the end of my lifespan. It had been a long time since I’d been this low.
Since late December I’ve been short of breath, and last week my chest started to hurt. Sounds like a reasonable excuse for a trip to the doctor. But with a $4000.00 deductible and a $3,000.00 out of pocket expense, I’ve tried to avoid spending the money. Good thing, too, since the economic downturn wiped out our savings and has me clipping coupons to save a dollar here, a dollar there. We are grateful we still have our house, and we’ve just begun to recover financially. I figured that, if we were really careful, we might make it out of this hole.
For a month I agonized over going to the doctor, just trying to wait it out. But always in the back of mind is June 8, 2005: the day my brother Matt passed away. He developed chest pain at work, went home, writhed on the sofa for a few minutes, and died. The neighbors noticed his truck parked askew, looked in his window, and broke down the door. It was too late. He was forty-eight, my little brother, dragged from this life down the same heart attack trail our father traveled when he was sixty-one. Dropped like a sack of dirt. It’s not the worst way to go, but I’d gladly settle for passing gently in my sleep when I’m no longer in my right mind.
So, I bit the bullet and went to the doctor, who immediately sent me to the ER. After four hours of poking and sticking and prodding and pictures they cheerfully announced I was in no imminent danger, “so go on home and c’mon back tomorrow for MORE tests. Oh, and here’s your bill. Do you want to take care of this now?”
Fighting the urge to clutch at my heart (there’s undoubtedly a charge for that) I stumbled out the door and into the cold, even asking Kevin to drive home- a rare occurrence indeed. The self-flagellation began before we left the parking lot, and by the time we pulled into the driveway I was in full self-hatred mode. How could I be so dumb? So thoughtless? How could I do this to my family? Would God forgive me even though I should have just toughed this out? Would He think I was just crazy and stupid, and if we do lose everything, it’s all my fault?
My best thinking said to me, “The only way it would be okay to spend $6,000.00 is to prove I’m dying.”
My best thinking said, “God may forgive you for making such a dumb decision, but your family’s financial insecurity is now your fault.”
So I lay awake half of last night, beating the crap out of myself emotionally and figuring God isn’t going to bail me out of making such a selfish choice. I still don’t know why I’m short of breath or why my chest hurts; more tests are scheduled tomorrow and the next day. The only good news is that once we pay the seven thousand dollars, insurance will pay the rest. But seven thousand is so much more than we have I cry just thinking about it.
By the morning’s light, all of this gave me pause to consider: For someone who says her best friend is Jesus (hence my website, http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com), why do I not believe He will provide for us? Does His provision EVER depend upon my performance? Does He really shake His head over my self-centered concerns, deeming me beyond hope because I put my fears above my family?
I believe I have fallen prey to the illusion that God takes care of me because I do my best to follow Him, and make the best possible decisions for everyone involved; moreover, if I only had enough faith, I would have heard Him shouting, “Buck up and wait it out, dummy!” My best thinking seems to run contrary to what God actually says. I believe I’ve been listening to a lie; or rather, a liar. I believe Satan’s been whispering in my ear.
I believe it’s time I look to the Bible to remember what God actually does say about me, and about all those who have given their lives to Christ:
I am God’s child. John 1:12
I am Christ’s friend. John 15:15
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. Colossians 1:14
I am complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10
I am free forever from condemnation. Romans 8:1-2
I am free from condemning charges against me. Romans 8:31-34
I cannot be separated from the love of Christ. Romans 8:35-39
I have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power,
of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
I can find grace and mercy in my time of need. Hebrews 4:16
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me. 1 John 5:18
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 2:6
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.
(Excerpted from Living Free in Christ by Dr. Neil Anderson)
I believe Bill W. was absolutely right when he said, “Only the self-deceived will claim perfect freedom from fear.” But as a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve been given the promises of God’s Word. When I fall into the arms of Jesus and seek His truth, I am rescued from both “my own best thinking” as well as the enemy who hates me. The truth can set me free.
Though the sun shone brightly today, it never warmed up and forecasters have plastered their minus signs all over the Colorado map. We’re in for another cold one tonight. But rather than lying awake and listening to the voice of the enemy taunting me into fear, I’ll remember this promise and repeat as necessary until my thoughts slide into a warm and friendly darkness:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”– Jesus Christ (John 14:27 NIV)
Beats the heck of counting sheep.
© Rachel Ophoff, 2011, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Find out more about Him on my website: http://www.friendshipwithjesus.com .