The second week of waiting began and I continued to get encouragement from the most random places. For example, my coworker has one of those small desk calendars useful for keeping up with the date, it also has a meaningful quote or Bible verse on it for daily inspiration and encouragement. More than once the quote or verse would be something so perfectly applicable to my situation; it was uncanny and so perfectly like God. Songs on the radio that I’d heard many times before suddenly took on new meaning as I soaked in the lyrics and allowed my unsettled heart to rest for a moment. Bible verses practically jumped off the page at me while I read. One particular passage choked me up every time I heard it,
Psalm 91:14-16 MSG
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll RESCUE you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”
The word RESCUE stuck out to me and resonated over and over in my mind. Who doesn’t want to be rescued from a hard situation, a difficult person or place in life? We long to be saved and safe. I began to constantly pray to my heavenly Father to rescue me from all the fear and anxiety; to teach me to rest, not just outwardly but inwardly.
All the while, I waited.
One morning as I was driving to work listening to Christian radio and talking out loud to the Lord, I cried out, “I just can’t keep waiting, I need a word from you, some finality, closure. Please” I was exhausted, ill, and at this point sleep deprived.
I felt empty.
A few minutes later I arrived at the office and started my usual morning routine, it wasn’t long before a friend of mine dropped by. He is actually a friend of my whole family, we’ve known him for years. He came in holding a book and started telling me how he’d read the whole thing the night before. I stood listening to how he’d gotten the book and couldn’t put it down until he had read it completely. After reading it, he thought of me and my blog. My curiosity was piqued and after a few more minutes of explanation he handed the book to me and I was stunned. I couldn’t believe the title. I kept my feelings in check as he encouraged me to read it, I bid him farewell and he made his exit.
I stood there holding the book with my mouth hanging open in shock and suddenly all I could do was laugh. It was one of those crazy, on the brink of hysterical kind of laughs.
I immediately called my husband and asked him to come to me because I had something incredible to tell him. As soon as he arrived I began to recount what happened starting with the tearful prayer I’d prayed while driving. Then I handed him the book and he read the title out loud…
“Life, Death and Beyond.”
He looked up at me and a slow smile spread across his face.
Seriously, who brings a person a book about death unless God tells them to?
I have to admit that I questioned why the Lord wanted me to read about death and the afterlife. I had a sneaking suspicion why, but I still thought it kind of strange. I mean, after all, I thought, if thinking about death scared me then shouldn’t I think about it LESS, not more? But, I’ve learned a great truth in the mess of all this; most times we have to face our greatest fears head-on in order for them to lose their power. We have to stare them in the eye and keep walking forward, maybe even right into them, right into the scary unknown.
So I opened to page one and started reading, and at the same time I took the first step.
I thought I might be sick to my stomach.
But, you know what? With shaky legs and weak knees, obedience is still obedience, it doesn’t have to be pretty.
A few weeks ago our son’s car was hit in the high school parking lot. Honestly, I can’t believe it hadn’t happened sooner. Driving or walking in a contained lot with a hundred sixteen to eighteen year olds is perilous to one’s health and doubly threatening to their vehicle. This “scratch” that turned into an expensive insurance claim landed us at a local auto shop waiting for an estimate on a cold Friday night.
My husband had gone into the lobby to talk to the mechanic while I opted to wait in the warm car with the engine running. The wait began to take longer than I’d expected and I was finished checking my social media sites when I found myself bored. (I don’t do boredom well, probably something I should work on. I’ll add it to my list of things I need to do better.) I suddenly remembered a devotional CD that I’d bought several months earlier on a whim. It was five dollars at the checkout so I threw it on top of the books and gifts I was buying, vowing to listen to it on the way home; only to toss it into the console between the seats never to think of it again, until that moment.
I carefully dug in the dark cavern between the seats until I located it, popped the CD out of the case and slid it into the player. The music started and the next thing I heard was a story that reached out and grabbed me, pulling me in and buckling me up for the entire ten minute session. I haven’t been that riveted in a while. I went from mild interest, to revelation to tears, this woman on the CD was telling of her struggle but describing my pain.
How is that even possible?
She spoke of loss and anxiety and unfulfilled responsibility then she spoke to finding significance and meaning in life, all in TEN MINUTES. And you know what her key word was, the one thing she had prayed for and eventually found? Ah…you guessed it.
I sat in the repair shop parking lot, in the dark, and cried. I didn’t know exactly right then what was happening, but I sensed it was something BIG. I mean what were the chances that I would experience all the small details that led up to opening up a CD I had bought months earlier only to hear a word I needed RIGHT THEN. If I ever needed meaning in my life, it was NOW. I was drowning in my fear and wondering what in the world I was here for, the daunting thought of empty nest hanging constantly in my mind. If I ever needed to feel safe it was NOW, with middle age and all the uncertainties that these years bring. If I ever needed rescue, it was NOW, life was getting the better of me.
Once I was able to see through mascara filled, bleary eyes I turned on the overhead car light and studied the CD case to find out who the mystery speaker was. She had referred to a book she’d written and how she walked through, you guessed it, panic attacks and anxiety. She told her whole story in the book and knew I had to have it.
After all, I had already lived part of it.
I guess this is where my story of finding significance will begin. This is the place I will set out on the painful journey to finding meaning in life. I want to be clear, this is not a search for value, I know I matter to many and most importantly to God. This is more about wanting to know what I am here for. What am I called to do? What is it that will bring me joy while I am doing it? We are all called to something, I firmly believe that. Some of us are luckier than others to find out sooner rather than later what that “thing” is.
But, what matters is that we find out, no matter how long it takes.
I think I have for so long flung myself into being a good mom or being a loving wife or a faithful daughter or diligent employee that I no longer even know who I really am. There is nothing wrong with striving to be those things, but I am sure there is more. What I want to know is, what do I bring to the table of life? I know I have gifts and talents, what am I supposed to be doing with them. And how do I refine them? I sense there is a calling, a responsibility that I am to be fulfilling, but I have no idea what it is.
Some of you can relate.
In the days that followed my parking lot epiphany and while reading the book about death, I began to grow a little stronger.
I knew I had the beginnings of my rescue, no matter what the test results revealed.
On the exact day marking two weeks from my appointment, I finally heard from the doctor’s office. Turns out the issues I have are treatable. It may take a little time, but everything should be okay. As much of a relief as it was to hear those words, I understand why I had to wait to hear them. The healing I needed was not only physical, but emotional and mental. There is so much more work the Lord wants to do in me, and I sense He has great things ahead. I don’t know what may happen between now and those “great things” but I know in the meantime I will be learning, reading, studying and praying for meaning.
The Lord impressed a truth deeply on my heart one sunny afternoon when I was walking and praying…
“What I have ahead for you does not necessarily involve death, but it does involve dying.”
I remember feeling startled when I first understood those words. But, after thought and meditation I had a revelation…
The more He lives in me, shines into me and the more healing I receive, the less I look like me or act like me, “me” is dying and HE continues to live.
It’s about surrender.
If you had told me when this all started that my anxiety would lead me on a pilgrimage to find meaning and significance and ultimately surrender, I’m not sure I would’ve understood. But after all that has happened, I look forward to what lies ahead. I may still be shaking in my boots some, but it’s the beginning of a new chapter; one that has brought hope and joy into my needy heart.
I think I am on the edge of a life changing journey.
I am going to do my best to put into words the things the Lord teaches me and the process it takes to get there. At times it may not be pretty and at other times it may be glorious, either way, I would love to take this trip together. I want to walk with you to find the places of our calling, to cheer you on as you have revelation and find meaning, and pray for you as I know from experience how hard it can be sometimes. I have a feeling through this process none of us will ever be quite the same and it will be magnificent.
Oh, I bought the book my CD speaker wrote and so far it is so good (I’m still reading), it has made me laugh, cry and really think about my life. It also reminds me that I’m made to share my story with anyone willing to listen, with anyone desperate enough to search for rescue even if it means walking straight into the dark unknown. And with anyone who’s ready to live a life of deeper meaning, living fully not crippled with fear.
Anyone who is ready to live openly, courageously and is willing to tell their story…one rooftop at a time.
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I
will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”