Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to a believer, without God's ordering and permission. There is no such thing as "chance," "luck" or "accident" in the Christian's journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are "working together" for the believer's good.
Much like the goods scattered about at the flea market by the sea, my inner life harbored a chaotic mess during the first half of my faith journey. There were areas of hurt and pain locked away in the deepest recesses of my heart and soul that kept me from experiencing the full and abundant life Jesus tells us about in John 10:10:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)
There were wounds unhealed, robbing me of what God intends for a life ransomed by Jesus. The perceived randomness of my existence kept me restless and afraid. These patterns and fears were woven into the very fiber of my being. They were a cage that altered hopes and dreams. I didn’t know there was a way out, and attempting to bury the struggle inside only added to the confinement.
I always thought that I was managing it and that I was internally strong because I had never sought counseling for my problems ... until the day that those internal problems began manifesting themselves in the form of panic attacks and an ER visit or two. There was nothing I could do to muster up anything within myself to get free of them. The prescribed medication only exacerbated the situation. Upon returning to my doctor to seek help for the added struggle, I was informed that I had only two choices – drugs or counseling.
I realized then that I was going to have to try counseling. I was a relatively new Christian at that point. I told my medical doctor that I would go to counseling – but that I needed to see a Christian. Looking back, I recognize that it was God giving me the words to speak in the midst of the pain and confusion.
Within a few days, I was seated in the office of a compassionate man who helped me get started on the journey of unzipping the backpack of life’s heartaches and pain so that I could be set free of the fear and panic holding me hostage.
The conquest of fear had been part of his own journey. This gave him great insight into practical things that could also be beneficial for me – if I actually put them into practice.
One of the biggest takeaways I left those meetings with was the need to acknowledge the fear and then do something to conquer it. My counselor shared his own experience of making an annual trip to an amusement park and going for a ride in the front seat of the biggest, scariest ride there.
A couple of years went by between hearing that and actually standing in front of the “Wild Thing” after passing through the entrance gate for a day of family fun. But I had purposed in my heart that I was going to do it. And I did. (With one modification – avoiding the front seat. Thankfully, it was already taken.)
My husband and children were amusement park lovers, so there were many opportunities to put the lesson of courage into practice over the years. Once you enter the line for some of the biggest and scariest rides, you walk past plenty of warning signs for people with health concerns, including claustrophobia and panic attacks.
I always whispered a prayer while buckling into the ride car or cage: “God, please help me be brave.”