This is Not a Warning

by Deborah Maxey

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49

Jesus said the above quote to His disciples at the end of His time on earth. They were to be witnesses of the things they had heard and seen while He was with them. But they would not be doing that alone. He would send the Holy Spirit to empower them to fulfill their role in spreading the gospel. So, they should stay in the city and wait for His arrival.

Unfortunately, I’m guilty of not “staying in the city until you have been clothed with power on high.”  Even when I know the Bible promises that “I am going to send you what my Father promised.”

And ironically, I am inclined to do this just when I need Him most.  In my head, I know He will empower me, but the higher my anxiety, the more likely I am to assume I am facing the worst possible scenario. So, I have no peace.

The enemy of peace roars like a lion but has no bite, only the power I give it through the energy of my thoughts.

I have two memories (yes, I’m a slow learner here; it took two) of being so horribly off-track that I mistook the fake roar for the Lion of Judah. The first time was when my hubby agreed to a cruise after years of my asking. His father had been a pilot and owned a small plane. I had not flown since early childhood. I boldly told him: I wasn’t afraid to fly. I was afraid to fall.

Our cruise necessitated a two-part flight to Florida to board the ship. Although I prayed, I became convinced that my anxiety was the Lord’s way of preparing me for the worst. Don’t laugh here…I had us update our wills and made sure I left our house spic and span. Just in case.

With trepidation, I boarded the first small plane while hubby reminded me it was safer than driving. On the first leg of our trip, we sat behind the pilots. With a white-knuckle grip on the chair arms, I asked things like, “Do you think they see that other plane at three o’clock?” (Erm…yes, it was loud enough for the pilots to hear.) When they pulled out a huge book I freaked, “Oh no! They had to get out the manual.”  I began looking for smoke on the wings, and finding none, I anticipated the landing gear was stuck. Turbulence scared me silent, but that’s because I was praying like a soldier in a foxhole.

When we reached Charlotte, NC to transfer, the pilot turned to us and said, “We’ve had you bumped up to first class for your trip to Miami.” We thanked him. I apologized. They told hubby, “Good luck,” with a sympathetic wink.

In first class my heart was settling. I saw God’s gracious care. I prayed, “Lord if you’re going to bring me home to you in a crash, please let it be after the cruise.”  

Disembarking at home, I realized what I had done with a whack on the forehead, and created a phrase I’ve used many times since: “That is what my anxiety sounds like.” I realized before the trip I had not “stayed in the city” long enough to feel His powerful peace.

The next incident was before major back surgery. No escaping it. I had to have it. My mother’s discs had been like falling dominos with lifelong pain. Was I headed down the same path? When I prayed, I thanked God no matter what the outcome, not realizing I was listening to the roar and forgetting to “stay in the city.”  

When the surgeon met me in the prep room that morning, I was a comedian (anxiety does that to me). I laughingly told him, “I wrote you a poem: Don’t hesitate, Resuscitate. Resuscitate.” He didn’t laugh. He saw the real emotion. He took my hand and said, “Deborah, this surgery is extraordinary for you. But it’s ordinary for me. I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

I had done it again. I had taken an extraordinary God of abundance, grace, generosity, and peace and made Him as ordinary as my anxiety would allow.

Now when the deceiver roars, I say, “This is what my anxiety sounds like,” and pull up an extensive list I keep in my phone of all the times God was extraordinary in my life. I may combat anxiety, but I have an extraordinary God along with His arsenal.

All the deceiver has are my defective thoughts.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: A licensed therapist, Deborah McCormick Maxey retired from her counseling practice in 2020 to joyfully invest her energy in writing Christian fiction, devotions, and her website that focuses on miracles.  

The Endling: A Novel by [Deborah Maxey]

Deborah’s debut novel, The Endling, is newly released! Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. When US Marshals inform her she’s being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection. But when three innocent children become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all—her mountains, her heritage . . . even her life—to secure their safety. 

Join the conversation: How do you rest in God when a challenge is approaching?