1 Corinthians 10:12, 13
Vertigo is real, and it can be dangerous.
Several years ago I was determined to face my fear. I successfully climbed our extension ladder, and painted the top edge of the walls of our stairwell. I was careful to keep a grip on the ladder with one hand at all times. I finished, pried my fingers from the ladder, and carefully climbed down. I made it!
With my back to the stairs, standing on the floor at the top of the stairs I shared my success with my husband.
“Be careful, don’t fall!” he yelled, as he grabbed me by the arms.
“Ouch! Why’d you do that?”
“You were falling backwards. If I hadn’t grabbed you, you would have fallen down the stairs.”
Determined to face my fear, I successfully navigated the ladder, but even though my feet were firmly on the floor, the vertigo almost pitched me down the stairs. Regardless of how hard I try, I can still lose my balance when attempting to negotiate heights.
Much like denying my fear of heights, being prideful of my faith proves to be dangerous too. If I do not admit my weakness, keep a humble opinion of my faith, and remain dependent upon God’s power to resist temptations, I will fall into sin.
In the fall of 2013 I felt very strong in my faith. I’ll admit, I secretly judged how strong my faith was compared with those around me. Spiritual pride is ugly.
My headaches began on a Sunday evening in September. Quickly I was consumed with fear, and I began a quest for understanding. I turned to my doctor and the Internet. After two appointments, several phone calls to her office, three prescriptions, and a CT scan, I was still experiencing headaches. The treatment resulted in additional symptoms.
I was consumed with finding an answer, so consumed that I didn’t recognize that I had stopped seeking God.
Two weeks after the headaches began I finally went for a second opinion. The new doctor quickly recognized my headaches, drooping eyelid, and unresponsive pupil as Partial Horner’s Syndrome. He immediately began a battery of tests. While waiting for the results I resumed my search to understand the potential causes of Horner’s Syndrome. Finally an MRI of my head and neck revealed an internal carotid artery dissection, a very serious and rare condition that could have resulted in a stroke or even death.
Could have! I didn’t praise God that I didn’t have a stroke or die. I didn’t rely upon God’s strength and comfort to relieve my fears.
I thought I had been standing firm in my faith. Yet I quickly fell into sin. I frantically tried to relieve my fears in my own strength and with the world’s wisdom. Yet I was powerless to stop the stomach churning descent. I didn’t grab hold of God’s promise to show me the way out and seek His comfort. I tumbled headlong down the staircase of anxiety.
Fear and anxiety quickly spread into other areas of my life. After two years of battling in my own strength I was exhausted and confused. I realized I needed to get back to the basics. I set a goal to read through the bible in a year and to pray regularly. Yet I didn’t understand why I could not pull myself out of the pit.
Did you catch it? “I didn’t understand why I couldn’t pull myself out of the pit.” I wanted to do the work. I wanted out of the pit in my own strength. Pride!
I wasn’t seeking an intimate relationship with Christ. I was not filled with the hope that God would guide me. I didn’t seek the faith that offers contentment in Christ.
I was reading the bible, because I knew I should. I was praying, because I knew I should.
God does not force us to be still and seek Him. He does not require that we sit quietly, and listen for His still small voice. He does not force us to love Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul. We are commanded to do it, because He knows it is what is best for us and it is what He longs for.
He doesn’t force His strength and guidance on us. He patiently waits and allows us to come to our wit’s end. God is always willing to take our hand and guide us out of sin, into repentance, and then He graciously forgives.
Praise God for that. I’m so grateful that He loves me enough to let me come to the end of my self-sufficiency. When I finally crumble He lovingly wraps me in His grace and lifts me up.
I also need to remember that Christ is always there offering to guide me, and show me the way to avoid the sin all together.
I’m not saying we don’t need to go to the doctor. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t educate ourselves about our condition. What I am trying to say is that we must remain humble and dependent upon our Lord and Savior.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my pride and wash me white as snow in the blood of your Son. Wrap me in your grace, so that I can feel Your love and acceptance. Remind me that the contentment and security that I so desperately need is only found in an intimate relationship with You. Change me! May I quickly turn to You, so that I will not struggle to deal with trials in my own strength. Teach me to seek Your way, so that I can avoid temptations all together. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.