There have been many memorable Easters, but last Easter is one I will never forget. One word comes to mind when I think about last Easter and the months encompassing it, fear.
Andrew was on campus at church gearing up for the very first Easter service. He had just returned home from a three-week mission trip and he was in the thick of a long battle with debilitating panic attacks. He was running on empty and somehow supposed to deliver 7 identical Easter messages over the course of three days. Looking back, I don’t know why any us didn’t stop him, but that was Andrew, in my mind he was invincible. I knew he could do it and I wasn’t there to stop him, I was there to cheer him on.
Just minutes before Andrew was scheduled to be on stage for the very first Easter service a security guard found him curled up on the bathroom floor in a full-blown panic attack. He was hyperventilating so badly he was starting to lose sensation in his hands and his feet. The security guard called Andrew’s mom and I and we rushed to the office to see what we could do to help. I knew as soon as I locked eyes with Drew, the fear was there again. I had seen the fear nearly every night for six long months. They say panic is fear gone wild and I couldn’t agree more. Panic is fear, out of control, untouchable, irrational, scary, fear. Andrew’s eyes were glazed over, his pupils were dilated, and he was gone, it wasn’t him, he wasn’t there. I knew there wasn’t much we could do to touch it, we just had to wait it out and hope it would go away. So, we did what we knew to do: we prayed, we rubbed his back, we spoke truth over him, and we waited some more. Fortunately, it stopped, the panic attack subsided just in time for Andrew to be mic’d up and rushed onto the stage. As he stepped foot on stage, I stayed behind in the green room, surrounded by the band who had just finished their worship set. I asked the band to pray for Drew and I cried, I cried really hard. I fell into the arms of the musicians, my friends, right there in the green room and sobbed. He was on stage speaking, and I was back stage crying. And nobody in the audience would have known. It felt so wrong. My heart was weary, I thought: where are you God? Why aren’t fixing this? Why does he continue to suffer? What am I supposed to do?
I was tired, I was tired of cohabitating with fear. It felt as though fear was always there, lurking around the corner, ready to pounce at any given moment. Our life was unpredictable. We never knew when a panic attack would strike, and it was happening far too often. It seemed like the ugly was outweighing the beautiful and it was suffocating my heart. A few weeks later Andrew would have another panic attack that would send him to the hospital and on a journey with depression none of us saw coming.
Fast forward to Easter this year and I would do anything to go back. The pain of last Easter pales in comparison to the utter destruction of my life this year. There isn’t even a word I could find to accurately describe the way this Easter feels. But there is one word I know God is whispering in my heart this year, fearless.
Jesus was fearless.
He knew He would be betrayed by the people He loved, and He went anyway.
He knew He would be ridiculed by His community, and He went anyway.
He knew He would be overcome with horrific pain and He went anyway.
He knew He would be nailed to the cross and He went anyway.
Jesus could have walked away, but He went anyway.
Jesus had every reason to be afraid, but He went anyway.
Jesus was fearless.
As I face my first Easter alone, without Andrew, I am choosing to face it without fear. I am choosing to believe the same God who rose Jesus from the dead and shocked the entire world, still has surprises in store for me. I am choosing to believe the King still has one more move. That’s the hope of Easter and that’s the hope for you and me.
When the test results come in and it’s not good, the King still has one more move.
When the job falls through again and again, the King still has one more move.
When God doesn’t give you the answer you were asking for, the King still has one more move.
When it feels like everyone has abandoned you and you are all alone, the King still has one more move.
When the pain is overwhelming, and you want to give up completely, the King still has one more move.
We can choose to be fearless this Easter because there isn’t anything life can throw at us that God hasn’t already thought through. When we let go of fear, we make room for freedom and we remind ourselves who is already in control anyways.
God’s Got This, He always has.
In it together,