Jesus-Freak-Induced Panic Attacks
I came of age in my faith in the late 90s and early 2000’s, which means that my highest aim was to be a “Jesus Freak.” I devoured the books by the same title – stories of the hardest of the hardcore, the martyrs and the persecuted Christians all around the world. They gave up everything to follow Jesus, even their lives. They were on a higher plane than the rest of us “normal” Christians, and I wanted to stand up there with them.
So the goal became: “Be more spiritual.” I read my Bible for 2 hours or more every day. I prayed often and fervently. I memorized huge passages of the Bible. I shared my faith and spoke to groups and went on mission trips. I taught Sunday School and started a blog and mentored teenagers.
I stand on the edge of doing something I am sure that He has asked of me, full of fear and trying not to panic.
And everyone is ooohing and ahhhing, saying, “I could never do that! What faith you have!”
We tend to view Christians on various levels of spirituality: on top is usually the missionary, abandoning culture and comfort to give their lives to those who haven’t heard the Gospel. Next are pastors, who are the “spiritual leadership” of the church. It’s an unspoken rule that they must be the most spiritual person in the congregation, be without sin, and take a vow of poverty for good measure. Perhaps next are deacons, Bible study leaders, camp directors, and evangelistic speakers.
Then there’s the rest of us. We are on the lower plane, the less spiritual of us. The non-leaders, receiving and “being fed” by the more spiritual. We are sure that God has not called us to something great, because we know our faith is small and we just can’t do that. We can’t give up air conditioning or a steady paycheck, our five-year-plans or the town we’ve lived in our whole lives. We want to do great things for God, but we’re certain that it will give us a panic attack. So we leave the hard things to those on the higher plane. They can handle it, right?
The planes don’t exist.
We are – all of us – His children. And the goal is not to read more Bible or know it in Greek and Hebrew, or to pray more often and have those prayers answered, or to teach or evangelize more than anyone else so that we can be leaders and climb up the spiritual ladder.
We are pushing deeper into Him. We are, at every step, receiving the grace for the next step and no further. We are not as spiritual as we think we are, for we are all dependent upon Him for our growth and our being.
And when we focus on being in Christ, rather than on doing for Christ, we may find ourselves in any number of places. In the jungle. In the pulpit. At the daycare. Homeschooling our children. Checking groceries. In a cubicle. The legitimate fears of what’s going to happen, how is the money going to be there, will my children be safe, what will my family think – these fears are met with the simple truth that I am in Christ, and I must lean deeper into Him.
Abandon your ideas of the spiritual ladder. Let go of your worry over not being spiritual enough, not leading enough, not doing enough. The tasks and good works don’t make us mature, or more loved, or better people. He does. Lean into Him, allow yourself to be His child, allow yourself to be loved. Then look around and do the first thing He’s asked you to do – with His presence and in His power. Then ask for grace for the next thing. Then the next. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t panic.
Does the whole “do great things for God” mentality send you into a panic attack sometimes?