I’d never been afraid to fly. From the time I was less than a year old I’ve been flying on a regular basis. Even flying across the country a few months after 9/11 didn’t scare me because I trusted God with my life.
And then it happened.
A few years ago, out of nowhere, I started having anxiety attacks. Thankfully, I only had a handful over less than a year’s time and with God’s help I worked through the anxiety to the point that I do not have it anymore. But unfortunately two anxiety attacks came back to back on a long plane ride to Ireland. It was a dreadful experience, to put it mildly. As a result, from that moment on, stepping onto a plane was a trigger for extremely high anxiety. I’ve dreaded even the thought of flying. Now, for those of you who have never personally dealt with anxiety you may not have sympathy for this situation but for those of you who have experienced it….I know you’re tracking with me. I went on two trips in the last few years which consisted of 8 plane rides. And each of those times I had such high anxiety that stepping my feet onto those planes was the most courageous thing I could have done at the time. It took everything I had in me to get on those flights and to stay on them before the doors shut. Anxiety comes when you feel out of control of a situation. I have found that when I trust God, who is truly in control, and lean on Him, then there is no room for anxiety. In each of those anxiety-filled times I asked God to come into the feeling of anxiety and dissipate it..take it away…and every single time He has done it. Sometimes I had to ask more than once, especially during flights because I was so worked up, but God has always been faithful to meet me in the midst of my trial; which brought me to the point of knowing without doubt that God will not fail me ever. Ever. That’s an amazing truth to know; and it’s great to have experience after experience to back it up. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You.” (Isaiah 26:3) But still, even with God meeting me in anxiety while on the plane, I didn’t want to be haunted with fears of anxiety every time I wanted to fly somewhere.
And then the Washington trip came.
Last year Joel and I had plans to fly to Washington to visit his family. I was a little nervous about the trip in general because I would be staying with his family for the first time. Then add the plane ride to it—
this huge hurdle that would mark the beginning of the trip– and forget about it! The thought of going made me want to crawl into a hole and hide out. Forever. Part of me wanted to cancel the trip just because I didn’t want to fly… but I also know that the devil would have liked for me to run in fear in the opposite direction of God’s plans for me. And I’m finally at a point in my life where I firmly refuse to do that. So I knew I had to go. And that God would go with me.
I was so scared to experience the anxiety I knew was coming that I sobbed out loud the morning of the flight and I didn’t know how I was going to hold myself together. But I told God that I was tired of dealing with this. I don’t have high anxiety in any area of my life anymore other than this and I don’t want it there either. I asked God to completely deliver me from this flying anxiety once and for all.
I likened it to the Israelites in Joshua 3; (this is one of my favorite stories of all time). God is getting ready to lead the Israelites into the land they will inhabit but in order to get to it they need to cross through the Jordan River…which happens to be in flood stage at the time. God instructs Joshua to have the Levites, who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant, (where God’s presence resided), to take a few steps into the river and stop. “When their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off from upstream, and the river will pile up there in one heap.” (Joshua 3:13) This will allow the Israelites to cross over into the land God is leading them into.
I love this because God requires our faith to have an action step. And he also wants to have us partner with Him in the miracles He performs. He doesn’t need us to partner with Him but He wants us to. Did God tell the Levites that He would pull back the waters first and then they could step out? No, just the opposite! He told them to take a step of faith into the water, to trust Him, and to watch Him be true to His words. Can you imagine God telling you to literally go stand in a raging, flooding river and trust that He will not only protect you from being swept away but He will make the waters stop so you can cross over to the other side of the bank?
“Now it was harvest season and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream…Then all the people crossed over near the city of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Lord’s covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by them…until everyone had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15-17)
I love that it says that the people crossed over on dry ground. Not wet, muddy, soggy ground. Dry ground.
So, in May, as I walked down the hallway toward the plane bound for Washington, feeling full of anxiety, I likened it to the Levites walking toward the flooding Jordan River. I asked God that as soon as I took the first steps onto the plane that He would “pull the waters” of my anxiety back and that I would “cross over” through the flight on dry ground…with no anxiety. I asked Him by faith to do this and I chose to believe, by faith, that He would.
And He did!
Two flights. No anxiety on either one. None. Coming from where I came from, that, my friends, is truly a miracle. God’s deliverance!
I feel now that God has truly delivered me from the high anxiety that came with flying and that I won’t have it anymore. I am so thankful!
I never took any medication to numb the anxiety. I probably could have and it would have made things better for the moment. But since the anxiety was something new to my life, I didn’t want it to keep sticking around. I wanted to deal with the root issues of whatever was causing it and get rid of it. I could have canceled the trip but I chose to walk through the fearful valley of anxiety because I wanted to walk into God’s freedom and not let fear control me.
God desires to meet us in the midst of every large and small experience in each of our lives. In everything that scares us, troubles us, confuses us and breaks our heart. What are you struggling with today that God desires to meet you in the midst of and deliver you from? I encourage you to invite Him into it and ask Him to deal with it and minister to you in the midst of it. It can be frightening and painful to look into all of the dark and wounded places of our soul. But I tell you from experience that God’s freedom on the other side is a million times worth each step of the journey!