God asked a lot of me this summer.
If you have been reading my blog recently, you know that it is not full of easy, fluffy posts. And that is because I have not had an easy, fluffy summer.
Like I said, God asked a lot of me.
I have been afraid of a lot of things in the past 6 months. In some ways, looking back on it, I like to view myself as Satan’s #1 enemy, because I can only explain the sudden onset of intense fear in my heart to be an attack from him. Though I grew up anxiety-free, it hit me full force these past months, and I was an easy victim. Unaware of how to handle these new fears and feelings, I just succumbed to them- losing faith in God and more scared of my own shadow with every new day.
And yet God was still leading me, and He was still asking much of me.
And in the midst of my distress and distrust, He called me to State College, Pennsylvania for the summer. In the face of a multitude of uncertainties in my heart and mind, one thing was certain: God was calling me to intern with a ministry named Pure Freedom. And in a whirlpool of doubts that plagued me day and night, I knew with absolute certainty that it was the direction I needed to go.
And so I did, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
You see, in order to get the internship, I had to interview for it. And in the act of interviewing, it was me declaring that, despite my fears and unbelief and distrust, I was walking towards my Jesus.
And, friends, Satan hated that.
I will never forget the Monday after Easter when I made the 2 hour drive to State College to interview. I woke up in a war, battling the anxiety that was welling up in me- the tangible fear that I felt I could touch and yet nobody else could see. But I knew I had to go- if one thing was certain, God wanted me to interview for this job. I just.. I knew it. His call was that clear.
So I took off. I jumped into the family mini-van and drove the hills of Pennsylvania towards the face of Jesus.
And battle waged.
About an hour into the drive, panic welled up in me in a way that I can’t explain. I truly believe that only those who have experience with panic attacks can know how it felt. Though it was a sunny spring day, the car was driving fine, and I was driving towards a job that I was passionate about..
I was not ok.
I was not ok, and one thing became shockingly, abundantly, painfully clear: I was in a war, and if my Jesus didn’t step in, then I was going down.
I had no fight, no power, no ability to overcome. I was panicked, shaking, strongly considering pulling over and curling into a ball on the grass. The sky threatened to crash down on me and my intestines were going to well up and explode. There was nothing in me that in any way could defeat the panic that was beating me.
And in that moment, when I admitted my weakness in a way that I never had before and never imagined I would, I heard Jesus clearer than I ever had.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“God, be with me!!” I remember screaming. Pounding the steering wheel, I cried out for Jesus to be everything He claimed to be.
I needed Him to be everything He claimed to be. I knew, with precision-like certainty, that if Jesus wasn’t my rock, my fortress, my father, my protector, my hope… then I wasn’t going to be ok.
“Hold me, Jesus! Hold me like you said you would! Be my fortress! I can’t live without you! I can’t survive this moment without you!”
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” In the midst of my screaming, that verse kept pounding in my ears. “I am everything I claim to be. Now, believe it! You think you are alone right now? You think that I don’t see you? Oh daughter, if only you could see how tightly I am holding you right now. If only you knew that this moment you are more in my plan than you have ever been before.”
Sobbing and desperate, I turned on the worship CD that was in the car and began to scream out the words of the songs. And in the name of Jesus I began to call off every lie that was choking me, every thought that was deceiving me.
Shaking and sweating, I prayed that way for an hour.
And by the time I got off at the exit towards the Pure Freedom offices, I had never felt a greater peace. I had never felt more comforted by the Holy Spirit and more held by my Jesus.
Jesus asked a lot of me this summer.
Two weeks later, I received an email that I was offered the internship, and I didn’t hesitate a second to accept it.
But not because I wasn’t afraid.
My anxiety hadn’t subsided, and I could still taste the panic that had been my every fiber just weeks before. Yet one thing had changed.
I could feel God’s hand on my shoulder, reassuring me that He was with me.
And He was not telling me that it would be an easy summer. In fact, the opposite. He was assuring me that it would be a very difficult summer. I could already see the hard, anxious days ahead. I knew without a doubt that I would spend lonely nights on my knees and long days in silence. He did not hide the fact that He was asking a lot from me.
But I knew that He was with me. And I knew that it was enough.
So on May 23, I woke up, crawled into the family mini-van and set off towards State College, Pennsylvania. In God’s incredible strength, I ran fast and free towards the fear the strangled me. In prayer, I drove the same route that swallowed me just a month before.
But God asked that of me.
And He was with me.
And I cannot begin to write about how incredible my summer has been. It was so hard, but I have never know my Jesus better than I do now. His incredible love has romanced me and swept me off of my feet and held me in ways that I never imagined it ever could.
Not because He led me through easy times. But because I went into battle and there, on the front lines, learned how strong He is.
I don’t know what God is asking of you today, but perhaps He is leading you somewhere that you don’t want to go. Maybe He is calling you in the direction of your fears, and maybe you feel that you will be defeated if you take one step towards them.
I need to tell you: God is who He says He is.
He has never promised an easy life. In fact, the Bible repeats over and over that this life is hard. And God rarely calls us in fields of daisies.
He calls us into war zones.
But friends, wherever God has called you, GO. Don’t run from war.
Run towards it.
Because it is in the battle that you will know the strength of your Jesus more than you could ever imagine.
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”