520: I woke up at 5:20 this morning. It was a very sudden, “oh my word” type of awakening. Chest constricted, mind-racing: I was having a panic attack. I’ve had a few before. The most recent one in the hospital the morning after I returned from Honduras when I was half incoherent and in incredible pain. Other than that, my panic attacks have been limited to airports and airplanes. The cause of this one became apparent as soon as I realized what had my mind racing: This is the last full day of my vacation. That alone isn’t so bad; I am fully rested, and I have had a truly wonderful week.
What is bad about vacation ending? Life begins again. Normally, I love this time of year! I love the opening of school, catching up with my students and colleagues, getting back into routine. Because we always vacation in August, I often take a day or two and update my syllabus for AP Language and/or redo my “Welcome to Mrs. Farish’s class” handout. But, there’s no such planning this year – no PLAN. I love a good plan, and I don’t have one. That is petrifying to me. I have no idea what the next week, month, or year holds. And, I desperately want to know. I prayed, turned over and cuddled with Steve (in a “holding on for dear life” way), and then got up. Lying there was helping nothing. I grabbed my iPod and my sneakers and headed to the beach for a walk.
I turned on my iPod, scrolled to the first new podcast, and pressed play. I soon hear Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church in North Carolina. I love listening to him because he has a cool Southern drawl that adds flavor to his practical messages:) The title of his message? Treatment, Anxiety: Worry Don’t Work Coincidence? I used to think nothing of such situations: I have a panic attack and then just happened to land on a message about anxiety. Blah, blah. But, over the last few months I’ve resolved to try to see God everywhere and in everything, so I know this moment is from Him.
Steven Furtick was preaching from Matthew 6: 25-34. If you’ve been “churched” at all, you know this passage: “25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “ Really? Do I need to hear this again, God? His answer? Yes, yes you do. Either Pastor Furtick had a new take on Matthew 6, or I was hearing it with fresh ears – or both. I think both. Furtick called this verse a command, not a suggestion. He said, “When God tells you not to do something, and you do it anyway, that is called a sin last time I checked.” Ummm….yikes! He reminded me that worrying doesn’t change the situation. Sure, I can plan, evaluate, and work – but simply worrying is sinful.
Pastor Furtick also reminded me that I don’t have any trouble trusting God with the big things in my life. I truly believe I am going to heaven when I die; that’s pretty big. But, what about my finances, God? A leave of absence = no paycheck. What about the day-to-day Farish schedule and my sanity? I am worker, a doer. I love teaching and working; yet, that’s no longer my daily grind. I could keep listing anxieties about the year to come, but they pale in comparison to my eternity, which I’ve completely entrusted to God. I realized this: While God doesn’t give a license to be irresponsible, he does want me to trust Him in the details. The details…that’s where I don’t trust God…ever. I am in charge of details. I’ve always justified this with self-talk that sounded like this: “God doesn’t care about my day to day schedule – the details – he has a universe to take care of.” Wrong…so, so wrong. And, deep down I have known for most of my life this is wrong thinking. God called me to this place and time, and he’s promised he’ll meet my needs in this season and always. No, his definition of need meeting will probably not agree with mine. Moreover, as Pastor Furtick put it, “He’s not going to tell you a single thing about how he’s gonna do it- just that he’s gonna do it.” I hate that. I want a plan, but I am not getting one. When God called Abraham in Genesis 12, he told him to go. That’s it. No GPS, no map, no detailed plan. Just go.
So, I am just going to go. It’s “going” to be a daily struggle for this planner to just go – to just follow daily without being able to see God’s entire plan. What about you? Are you a planner? Do you wonder if God’s in the details? If you have those “where is God” moments or if you’re a worrier, I encourage you to read Matthew 6: 25-36, to listen to Steven Furtick’s message, to pray, ro lean further into Him, and to share with me how God’s working this out in your life. Maybe you can’t see God in the details, but rest knowing he made the plan, he wrote the script. That’s what I am trying to do even as I type today. I’ll let you know how it goes:)