Sunday was one of the most meaningful days I’ve ever lived and I can’t keep it to myself any longer! If you haven’t read my previous post “Shadows and Roars”, please do as that sets the backdrop for this one. As I said there, I have damaged nerves in my spinal cord up in my neck that affect my breathing in high altitudes. My doctor said he had 2 of his patients with this same condition as me die in high altitudes, so it has always left me uneasy. Well, my sister (who I don’t get to see nearly enough) and her family live in a suburb of Denver, the city nicknamed the Mile High City as its official elevation is exactly one mile (5280 feet) above sea level. I have 3 nieces and a nephew who I refer to as “the loves of my life” who live out there. I haven’t been able to be at their births (except my first niece’s!) or any special occasions and milestones in their lives, but I always said I WOULD go to each of their weddings.
Well, this past fall my niece, Emma, got engaged to a hardworking, God-fearing guy named Trevor. When they were all here at Christmas, Emma asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. Each of my nieces and nephew hold incredibly special places in my heart, but for Emma, she was named after me (her middle name is Michele) and we are alike in many ways. We have a special bond for sure, so there “may have” been some tears of honor and happiness on my end when she asked me. 🙂
But 4 months later came such an onslaught of new neurological symptoms and episodes that led to so much fear, uncertainty and anxiety that I really didn’t know that I should be going out for the wedding. My nervous system was just so compromised and challenged, that it seemed putting myself in high-altitude could only worsen my condition. I waited to have my dress tailored, waited to buy plane tickets, waited for all sorts of test results, waited for an answer from my neurosurgeon, etc. There was such restlessness in my spirit. I had NO peace about going, but I also had NO peace about staying. I have felt robbed of the last 19 years of my Colorado family’s life. If I said no to Emma’s wedding, I knew I’d be saying no to all of their weddings, and I just could NOT bear the thought of signing on that dotted line.
A decision had to be made and I knew I had to wrestle this out with God alone. Only He knew what was going on in my body and only He knew what would happen if I went to Denver. While I am surrounded by those who would have given me wise and Godly counsel if I asked, I knew I needed to hear God’s voice ALONE on this one. One morning, as I was getting ready 7 weeks ago, out of nowhere God “released” my spirit to go to and be in their wedding; and immediately I was overwhelmed with peace. It was surreal, yet very, very real. Over the next 3 days God confirmed His release to me 3 different ways and I knew that I knew He had given me the green light. I was so EXCITED and at PEACE.
But a few weeks later when my resistance was incredibly low I entered 9 days of neurological flareups and intense anxiety that I knew was stemming from the fast approaching trip to Denver. I was bombarded with lies and questions birthed in fear. I thought, “While I would miss out immensely, at least I’d be safe if I stay home!” One night in bed, in the middle of this physical and mental battle, the Lord brought to my mind the story of when the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River to enter into the Promised Land (Joshua 3). The priests were instructed to go first and “step into” the Jordan, THEN the waters would part and they would cross on dry ground. God associated this to Denver. I knew what He was showing me, but that anxious spirit within me would not quit. So, what was a girl to do? …walk in “risk” and trust in her God or walk in “safety” and fear?
Because the altitude coupled with length of time is the dangerous combo for me, the plan from the very beginning was for me to fly in and out on the same day. So, two days ago my uncle and I boarded a plane heading to Denver. My earbuds were in, filling my ears and spirit with worship music and specific scriptures were printed out and in my hands. Halfway through our flight the Lord gave me a vision. He showed me the places I’d be stepping foot that day and how He already had in place His warring guardian angels, waiting for me in each of those places. It was so powerful and brought me incredible peace, comfort and courage.
Once we landed, I could feel myself getting more challenged. My parents picked us up and it was apparent I was struggling. I was back to that lifeless, non-verbal shell I spoke of in my previous post. The pressure behind my neck was AWFUL and the worst I’d ever remembered. I was thinking, “I should never have come.” “I will never do this again.” “We’re going to have to turn the car around and get me on the next flight home.” I put my earbuds in and music on to change the atmosphere in my head and began praying silently, “God I NEED You. You said You’d part the waters once I stepped in. I’m IN Denver now; I’m IN, but this is NOT dry ground! I don’t understand!!” My mom was in the backseat with me and reached for my leg and began interceding for me. About 5 minutes before we reached my sister’s place everything broke and I was FINE. I got to tour her and my brother-in-law’s beautiful home, got ready, did pictures, prayed over the bride with the other bridesmaids, got to the venue and took more pictures and all along I was FINE. I was walking on that dry ground God had promised me.
It was finally showtime. It was an outdoor ceremony and the walk for the bridal party to get behind the guests was long and behind the scenes. I told the coordinator that I’d need a head start to get to where the bridal party would enter. So, for a good 5 minutes it was just me walking along the path and through greenhouses to get to our starting point. Along this walk the Lord reminded me of the vision He gave me earlier that day and immediately I felt surrounded by those warring angels He had assigned to me. I could almost see and hear them as they walked in front of me, next to me and behind me. I have no words except to say that I felt so safe. And to my right was Jesus walking by my side. I was overwhelmed by this Presence that surrounded me. Even now I am moved to tears thinking about it all. They were priceless and powerful moments that I will have the rest of my life. During that walk I was able to be fully present and take in the miracle of the moment. I was surrounded by Jesus and His heavenly host. I was in Denver. I was about to stand with my beautiful niece and witness her marry the love of her life. And I was FINE. Actually, I was doing GREAT. I just kept saying to Jesus, “Thank You”.
My nephew walked my youngest niece and me down the aisle together. Does it get any better? I used only one crutch and we were walking in tall grass, so of course I had to walk slow, but I didn’t care. It allowed me to take in the most beautiful and meaningful moments playing out. I can’t believe all I would have missed out on (spiritually and in the natural) if I let fear and anxiety have the final say. And I can’t fathom how I would have grieved my Heavenly Father’s heart if I shrunk back from the faith He was calling me to walk in. This trip was a huge “mountain” (no pun intended) in my life, but one of the verses God used to confirm His release to go was Isaiah 45:2-3… “I will go before you and will level the mountains.” THAT HE DID!!! Our God is FAITHFUL to the core…even when His ways look different than ours. The rest of the day was perfectly beautiful in every way, I gained a nephew and I did not have ANY more issues with the altitude. I was fully present and alive…more than the past 3 ½ months put together.
Are you standing at the edge of your own “Jordan River”, needing to get to the other side? I hope my story inspires courage within you to step in and wait for your Deliverer. If He has spoken, He WILL come and the waters WILL part beyond what you can imagine. He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). The price for staying on the water’s edge is far too costly. It may feel safe there, but it’s NOT the full life God has for you. Your promised land is waiting, but your faith is needed to enter. In Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us even faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Here’s to parting waters and moving mountains to God’s glory!!! God will show up every time faith is activated…and sometimes He’ll even bring His angelic army with Him.
God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm. If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling. You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet! For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!” Psalm 91:11-16 The Passion Translation
*Thank you to the ARMY of family and friends who so faithfully were interceding HARD for me on Sunday and the many days leading up to it. This praise report is because of your faith and our faithful God. I love and appreciate you all so much!!!
**Painting entitled “Wings” was created by Lindsay Rapp.