Sunday morning, I weaved my way through the crowd and found my seat up front. Late as always, worship was already in full swing. The words of the second congregational song filled my ears . . .
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle. . . 1
The lyrics continued, but my mind and heart paused right there on those last words – “when I’m caught in the middle.” That’s what it feels like right now, like I’m caught in the middle – in the middle between living and dying, in the middle of waiting and hoping, in the middle of groaning and redemption. I’m caught in the middle of a warzone, catching my breath in between battles.
Tuesday, my mind foggy with fever and my heart heavy with fear, I sat next to Austin asleep on the couch and cried. The tears and snot flowed freely. It wasn’t a pretty picture. He had woken up that morning completely out of it. The best way I can describe it was like someone delirious coming out of aesthesia, but he didn’t just have surgery and he hadn’t been this “lost” in two months. I would find out later that Austin had caught the virus that’s been flying around our house and his brain can’t tolerate the fog like ours can. But I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know if the tumors were taking over. I didn’t know if the medicine I gave him would help. I didn’t know if he would wake up. So, I just sat there and cried and prayed. What else could I do?
This is where I live. In the middle place – a place of uncertainty and a lot of wrestling.
It didn’t seem a coincidence that Sunday I would be asked to sing about fear. Whom then shall I fear?Well, I could think of a lot of reasons to be afraid. Anxiety. Panic. They have been constant companions despite my repeated requests for God to take the fear away. It didn’t feel like He wanted to answer me, and this left me feeling abandoned. So when I read Psalm 56:9 (“My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help. This I know: God is on my side!” NLT), I’m not so sure I believe it. God is forme and not againstme. These are biblical truths. I know them, but I am having a hard time believing them.
Reckless Love. The last song we sang Sunday, and it just about wrecked me. You have been so, so kind to me.2 Did I really believe that? Has God been kind to me? But then the words of the bridge slammed into my heart:
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
In a moment, I saw myself in a valley so dark I couldn’t see the next step in front of me. Mountains surrounded me. I was stuck. Retreating wasn’t an option, but I couldn’t take another step for fear of where I might land. I stand there and cry out. Lord, save me! Be near me! Why can’t I hear your voice? And I imagined that although He feels far away, if I could only open my eyes, I would see Him so close it would be as though there is no separation between Him and I.
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open my eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:16-17 ESV)
The Enemy would like nothing more than for me to buy into the lie that God doesn’t really love me, that He really isn’t for me. He doesn’t want me to believe that God is on my side. He would rather me read despair in the scriptures like 2 Corinthians 4 than to find hope there. Satan wants me stuck. He wants me to distrust the steadfast love of my Lord. And I have to admit, he is good at his attacks. He knows what he is doing. I amstruggling. But God isn’t giving up on me. His Spirit dwells within me. So, I will keep going back to His word – to the places and words He has spoken to me before. I will be real with you and my closest friends who see me on my darkest days. I will seek wise counsel, and I will cry out until the healing finally comes or the Lord returns.
1 You Never Let Go Matt Redman 2006
2 Reckless Love Cory Asbury 2017