Word Press Prompt: Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
For as long as I can remember I have always had significant trouble sleeping, or at least, sleeping well. In high school, it was not unusual for me to go days without sleep. Despite intense exhaustion I would toss and turn all throughout the wee hours, desperate for the one thing that thinly evaded me. Terrified that with each passing moment I grew nearer to the cruel and inevitable peal meant to rouse me from what ought to have been a restful night.
Thankfully, my “affair” with Mr. Insomnia lasted only through high school. I suppose college just zapped me of whatever remaining resistance I had left. And while I remain an insanely delicate sleeper to this day, I have mostly said good-riddance to my faithfully anxiety-stricken companion. Yet every now and again, I suppose just for the fun and torment of it, he likes to show up for a nightcap to remind me of a relationship I gladly washed my hands of years ago. This was one of those particular evenings. Tired but restless, I tossed and turned, longing for sleep that simply would not oblige. And what sleep I did catch was fitful and brief. It was one of those moments, caught in the tension between dreamland and cognizance as you become aware that you are no longer asleep, but had perhaps been asleep, even if only ever so briefly.
And as I lay there on my back I remember with distinction that though my eyes were closed, I was poignantly aware entirely of my physical surroundings; able to visualize in my mind exactly where I was in relation to the space around me: my roommate sleeping directly to my right [we had pushed our beds together; we were cute like that], desk to my left, closet and bedroom door at my feet; and that’s when it hit me. The heaviest, most suffocating weight I have ever been subjected to, seized my entire body, accompanied by the most frightening, most pronounced sense of darkness I have ever encountered. It was instantaneous, as though the ceiling had given way to the winds of a hurricane so fierce it forced all of the air out of my lungs in a flash. I felt as though I had been steamrolled with no hope of deliverance… only I knew that what had entered my room that night was far fiercer and far more damning than any wind or machine. Furthermore, I knew in an instant that without immediate rescue, it was inevitable, I was going to die: quite literally, and quite quickly at that. I am not speaking in hyperbole, nor am I fabricating any part of this story. My initial thought was to wake my roommate. In retrospect, I have no idea how she might have been able to assist me in that moment had I been able to cry out to her, but in my desperation and fit of frenzied panic, the nearest body was my first impulse. But this was a fruitless attempt, for my entire corpus was paralyzed, and I was unable even to utter a sound.
My second thought, which ought to have been my first, was to cry out to the one who was greater than my oppressor. I could not speak, this was true, but I would not be silenced. In my thoughts, I cried out to my Maker, “Jesus save me!” And as one struggling to swim upward from the depths of the ocean, trying desperately to remain conscious for just one, two, three more seconds before reaching the fine but definitive line between life and death, breath and suffocation that exists where the top of the waters kiss the horizon, finally in a sudden and overwhelming moment, a merciful gasp reinflated my lungs with oxygen, and life, and hope, and renewed gratitude for every precious moment of existance. Immediately after catching my breath I sat up and prayed. And as the pins and needles of new life shot through my veins from the tips of my fingers to the soles of my feet, I began to tremble a bone-deep tremble as I convulsively rebuked the enemy: “In the name of Jesus, I release Peace, in the name of Jesus I release Peace…” and so on and so forth. I must have repeated this proclamation for 5 minutes straight. And sure enough, because the Lord is faithful to fulfill his promises, Peace ensued in the moments thereafter. It settled over me. It permeated and dispelled my fear. It soothed my nerves and blanketed me in the assurances of the eternal. It sang me back to sleep until morning light.
About a month later, I boarded a plane to Northern Ghana with 6 other students where we spent 6 weeks proclaiming the Good News to all those who would listen. And surprisingly enough, many people did just that. And in God’s great mercy, several [that I know of] gave their lives to the Lord over the course of those short weeks. Washed in the blood of Christ, drenched in the joy of freedom. The enemy did not want us there. That dry, dusty ground was a war-zone, a spiritual battlefield. But we went on that trip with a renewed sense of awe, filled with a gleefull anticipation of what was in store for us, and with a distinctly intrepid spirit of joy, the kind that conqueres. Because we knew what the enemy didn’t want us to know, that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world [1 John 4:4], and furthermore, that Jesus has already overcome the world [John 16:33]. If our adversary really had to try that hard to scare us away, there was a reason… he was threatened. But whom do we have to fear if Christ be for us? This of course being a rhetorical question, feel free to feign an answer if you wish…
I leave you with words written centuries ahead of our time; words that permeate Time to invade and affect our lives even today. I leave you with the words of Paul:
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
– Ephesians 6:11-16
He will not abandon us. He didn’t do it on the cross. He won’t do it now. Not ever. Praise be to God.
Grace & Peace