520: Panic and the Details

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:)


Matthew 6: 25-34

Genesis 12

Steven Furtick

Elevation Church

Treatment, Anxiety:  Worry Don’t Work


  1. You know my story…It’s a scary, yet amazing journey! 🙂 So awesome how God had help for struggle today immediately…love this post, Sarah! Thanks for sharing… See you all soon!!! We miss you all…

  2. We miss you all too:) And..thanks for the words of encouragement. I find that I have to sit down, type, and press “post” really quickly – or I’ll chicken out. I acted like the whole hospital incident was nothing…so this was my first step in admitting it was something:) Baby steps:) God is good. He’s proven that to me time and time again – especially this week. See you Tuesday..can’t wait!

  3. Lisa Sams says:

    Hi Sarah, I was directed here by Traci Weber and I am so happy she did. Thank you for sharing and opening your heart. I recently had an experience really realizing what sin is. We think of bad actions and terrible words so often. It is really anything that we are doing against God’s will and commands. There are many scriptures where God commands something of us. The Ten Commandments would be the most obvious. I know God is in every detail of my life and I know there is no such thing as coincidence and after learning to really listen and obey the Holy Spirit, I know I have been a part of other people’s God’s moments. I am definitely a work in progress and have so much more to learn but I am humbled and amazed at God’s love for us and his willingness to let us be a part of HIS Glory! I hunger and thirst for more of HIM and less of me and I just pray he allows me to continue on this journey. I am definitely a planner. I am a dental hygienist and my life is scheduled 6 months out and with 3 kids you definitely live by schedules. I feel your anxiety but am also very excited for you as you take this journey without one. To be honest, we never really had one to begin with, we just thought we did!

    • Lisa – Thanks so much for your words of encouragement! It’s so comforting to know that others are on the same journey as I am. I often feel like I am the only person in the world who struggles with worry and busyness….and so much more. I am so glad there’s a fellow planner out there who’s willing to provide some feedback, too. I love your definitive way of explaining sin: anything we are are doing against God’s will and commands (you may just see that in a future blog post:) Again, thanks for reading; I hope to hear from you again in the future!

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