In that space between sleep and awake I could feel it. It was as if a 500 lb. weight was sitting on my chest. Opening my eyes, I soon realized this wasn’t a dream. My clock read 3 a.m. as I sat straight up in bed and tried to make sense of what on earth was happening.
Oh, no. No, no, no. Please, Lord. Please don’t let me be having a heart attack.
You see, my heart, every now and then, has been known to beat to its own drum. Occasionally, it beats erratically and sometimes quickly. Nothing serious or life-threatening, my cardiologist tells me, but it sure can be annoying. In the back of my mind, however, I’ve wondered if there’s something more serious going on.
So, this was it. This is what I had been fearing.
A heart attack in my 40’s.
As any normal person would, I googled “heart attack symptoms” and thought I better wake Bill. The words, “I think I may be having a heart attack,” would alarm anyone in a deep sleep, as they did him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wake up so fast.
The symptoms began to fade, but we thought it was best to make a trip to the ER anyway. So, we raced to a local hospital, hoping my cousin, an ER doc, would be working in those wee hours.
But, something happened on interstate 380. Fear began to have its way with me. Fear and panic and despair consumed my thoughts. Was this it? Was it all going to end that morning of April 3? Would God take me home without being able to tell my children I loved them one last time? I thought of all the things I still wanted to do on this earth. I had so much more on my bucket list!
If you’ve ever felt fear (and I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t) you know how crippling it can be. You know that fear can take your mind to terrible places and can make you do strange, out-of-character things.
Fear isn’t our friend, yet so many of us entertain it.
As we walked through the ER doors, this fear had me physically shaking. You know, they don’t waste any time when someone arrives talking of a heart attack. In a matter of minutes, I was hooked up to all sort of wires and probes and things I don’t even remember now. But, I remember the shaking.
Through test after test I continued to silently pray. Everything was out of my hands. I asked Jesus to calm me, to comfort me, and to give me His peace. I asked God to somehow make this all turn out okay. And, wouldn’t you know… a peace seemed to wash over me and in a matter of minutes, the shaking left. I fell sound asleep on that ER bed.
Storms. We’ve had a lot of them around here lately, haven’t we?
Some are literal with rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. Some, in our lives, are more figurative and symbolic. Either way, storms are a part of life, and this storm I was in was a biggie. The thing is with storms, we can’t control them. We may want to, we may try to, but storms are bigger and stronger than we are on our own.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41 NRSV
I’ve never been on the Sea of Galilee but can relate to these disciples.
They found themselves in quite a storm on that sea. Their boat was battered by the wind and waves, to the point of it nearly sinking. The symbolic storms in our lives do the same and we may feel we’re going under, too, due to the battering. Storms can take a toll on us, physically, mentally and emotionally. And, they can induce fear and panic, just like mine did for me and like the storm on the sea did for the disciples.
(I invite you back tomorrow to read the rest of the story. It’s too long to share in one post. But in the meantime, how is fear having its way with you? What storms of life are you facing? Could you ask Jesus to calm you in it? Could you ask Him to give you His peace?)
I’ll be back tomorrow. Thanks for being here.