Happy New Year!
Michael and I just returned home from four days in Atlanta, worshipping with sixty thousand young adults in the Georgia Dome. Passion 2013 was more than I ever dreamed it would be, and one of the best experiences of my life. There are memories that I hope I will hold onto forever, because God used that time to completely undo me in so many areas of my faith. The main area is fear, and my ability to trust Him.
I don’t mean to be so serious, but I need to write about this. It helps me process it and work it out in my mind. I’m also very transparent and honest, and I feel strongly that we need to share what we go through in order to encourage others.
The week before the trip was a mess. If there was a germ in this house, we caught it. There was flu, ear infections, eye infections, stomach stuff…the whole shebang. I knew on Christmas Eve that I was getting sick, and then Aidan and Molly went down with me. We spent most of that day and the rest of the week in the living room, under blankets, watching movies. Paisley came down with it a few days later. I prayed constantly that God would protect Michael, and He did. Michael is still not sick. I’m in awe of that, because there is no logical explanation. But our God so often defies logic.
The worst part of the week, however, was not the sickness. I was attacked with fear. I am not a fearful person. I have never worried about taking a trip, or leaving my kids with my parents, or spreading an illness. I’m usually brave and ready for anything. Last week, however, I was wracked with a terrible fear that something bad would happen. I would shake involuntarily. I would cry out as I tried to fall asleep and my mind was filling with thoughts of all the awful things that could happen if I left town. I would beg Michael to pray over me, because I just felt so afraid all the time. I couldn’t understand it, it was so out of the ordinary for me. I was afraid of being afraid! I didn’t know what it all meant, and why it was happening. I talked to my husband, my dad, and friends and they all told me I was overthinking and worrying unnecessarily. That’s true, I was, but it was more than that.
I believe that there is an enemy who hates us. He lies, steals, and tries to ruin whatever joy and hope we are promised. He lives constantly in fear, because he knows he has already been beaten, but still he tries to make us believe lies that keep us from identifying with the One who is victorious.
In the worst of the fear, I wanted to stay home. I had thoughts of guilt for leaving my children. I had thoughts of guilt for possibly exposing the students to sickness (even after I was better). I had thoughts of getting so behind in my work, school and housework that I’d ruin the start of my year and spend the rest of the year catching up. They were ridiculous lies, and I was believing them.
There was hope, though. Throughout the week, I held on to the knowledge that Michael wasn’t sick. He was able to care for all of us, work his job from home, and help me get ready for the trip without getting sick. I knew that if God was answering my prayer for Michael, then surely He wanted us to go to Passion2013.
So I packed my suitcase, and the knot in my stomach started to release a little. We took the kids to my parents’ house, and the knot loosened more. The next morning, we loaded the van and headed east, and I felt the anticipation and excitement of the teenagers with us, and the knot came undone. I was fine. There was no more fear.
We arrived at the Dome, and found a row for the nine of us. The lights went out, and the music started, and I knew I was exactly where God wanted me to be. At some point that night, we sang a new song with these words:
“You hear me when I call, You are my morning song. Though darkness fills the night, It cannot hide the light.
Whom shall I fear?
You crush the enemy, Underneath my feet. You are my Sword and Shield, Though trouble lingers still.
Whom shall I fear?
I know Who goes before me, I know Who stands behind. The God of angel armies, Is always on my side. The One who reigns forever, He is a Friend of mine. The God of angel armies, Is always by my side.”
While singing that song I was so aware that He has WON. I have nothing to fear. He has defeated the evil one, and nothing formed against me shall stand. I’m in awe of that truth, knowing that it’s so much more than I deserve, and yet, it makes perfect sense because why wouldn’t a loving Father protect one of the children He gave His life to save? He loves me. He loves us. He wanted me there because I needed to move past the fear that paralyzed me in the process of getting there. Once I was there, I learned so much and loved every minute with our students and worshipped with everything in me. But the real lesson was just in the going. Even in the darkness, God gave me something to hold onto: Michael being well. That was an answered prayer, and I could trust that He was working. Then once we actually moved forward with what we were supposed to do, God affirmed that it was right, He was there, and there was nothing to be afraid of.
There is so much more I could say about the week. I’ve laughed my head off and sung my heart out. It was a time of refreshment for both Michael and me. We rarely get to spend four days just soaking in, we’re usually being squeezed out! I feel recharged and energized and ready for a new year. It was great for our marriage, because spending four days talking about what God is doing in your life is pretty much the same as getting a steroid shot in your relationship.
So many people prayed for us, and I’m so grateful. Our students had an incredible time, and they are amazing young people. To God be the glory, great things He has done!