The Day Terror Struck.
April 18, 2014
I had just driven home from my grandfather-in-law’s funeral in Missouri. We were in desperate need of groceries, so I piled the kids in the car and headed to Publix. I was catching up with my sister on the phone when I noticed a small stream running down the side of the bridge in front of me. Then, before I could make sense of what was happening, a huge ball of fire erupted in front of my eyes. It was an explosion of colossal proportions. The kind you see in the movies.
My heart began pumping like a racehorse on speed. Anxiety coursed through my veins. I threw the phone down in horror and let out a screech that could be heard for miles. For a moment I forgot my, then four and six year old, kids were in the car. I lost all the composure a mother is supposed to keep when trying to protect her children from such catastrophic events and sat frozen in my car mere feet from the bridge now consumed with fire and smoke.
Within seconds a slew of police cars surrounded the scene. Officers waved me to safety and brought me to the courthouse for questioning. Amazingly, at this very busy intersection, there was very little traffic and few who witnessed the truck and gasoline tanker collide and come crashing over the 528 overpass to hit the ground in front of me.
For weeks following this tragic event, questions of “what if” surged through me. “What if I had been there four seconds earlier? What if I hadn’t listened to the bag lady tell her whole story at Publix? What if I hadn’t had to slow down for that red light? What if? What if? What if?”
For weeks, each time I approached the bridge, fear would begin to lay hold of me. Over and over, my heart would begin to race. I couldn’t pass an oil tanker (or any kind of semi truck for that matter) without feeling the physical effect of fear manifesting in my body. Moreover, the mere thought of it would cause panic to set in all over again.
I knew what the Word of God said about resisting the temptation to give in to fear. Yet fear, was beckoning me to sit down at her table.
Truly, I needed to stop this fear from laying hold of my heart. But how?
How do you stop a physical reaction from taking place within you that seems impossible to control?
Here’s how I did it…
First of all, I recognized that this feeling of fear was not given to me by the Lord. The Word says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear (NKJ), but of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control (Amp),” so I knew the feelings I felt could be overcome.
Next, I asked the Lord for help and made an active decision to exercise the spirit of discipline that He had placed on the inside of me. I decided what the outcome would be from the beginning… That I would not walk in this fear.
Then, I began to get on the offensive against my enemy. I used mental discipline as I drove toward my fear (the bridge/tankers). I talked to myself and often actually spoke out loud. I reminded myself that that I had nothing to fear; that God had given me a calm, self-disciplined mind; that the He did not design me to shrink back in fear over anything.
I repeated these steps for weeks, constantly reminding myself what God’s Word said. As I approached bridges and tankers and every time my mind began to wander to the “what ifs,” I told myself how this would end… In victory over fear. With fear subject to the Word of God.
This afternoon, the draw bridge on the way to my house was up. I got stuck (for at least five minutes) at the exact sight of the accident.
As I waited, I recounted the events that had taken place that January afternoon over three years ago. Two oil tankers drove directly above my head. Yet, not one ounce of anxiety crept through my veins. Not one bit of fear.
In those moments, I was reminded what a mighty God we serve. I was reminded of His grace and the power of His Word to those who will reach for it and not let go.
If you are struggling with fear or anxiety over anything, you are not reading this by accident. God longs to set you free. He has equipped you with every tool you need for success. I encourage you today, to make a decision to see His plan unfold in your life. Decide today what your end is going to look like. Then pray this prayer with me.
“Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your perfect love toward me that casts out all fear. Thank you for equipping me with the tools I need to overcome every ounce of anxiety that courses through me. I declare, I will walk in self-discipline. I will trust Your Word over my feelings. In this moment, I declare that I will no longer give into the feeling of fear. I choose to believe You for victory in my life. I am an overcomer. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”