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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Graber

I Love Jesus, but Sometimes I Panic

"Panic can be contagious, but so can peace." Lisa Osteen Comes, It's on the Way: Don't Give Up On Your Dreams and Prayers

When my children were respectively 16 and 10, I decided to take them on a trip to Chicago. I had spent time working in Chicago, and since they had heard me talking about the windy city, my children wanted to see the city for themselves. We arrived around noon the first day and headed to the hotel where we would stay to drop our luggage before taking in some sights. On the way up to our room, the elevator gave a lurch and stalled. The doors did not open. We were stuck, and panic started rising in my chest.

In that moment, I experienced what I've heard other people talk about when they say time stands still during moments of crisis. I looked into my children's eyes to see a combination of fear, panic, and expectation: What will mom do? I realized in that moment that how I responded in this situation would forever impress upon the minds of my children how they should respond in unpredictable situations. All I wanted to do was calm their fears.

Instead of quavering in fear in a corner of the elevator paralyzed by indecision and terror, I took the opportunity to turn our panic into peace. I took a deep breath,

said a quick and silent prayer,

smiled at my kids,

and said,

"Looks like we're stuck. Who wants to push the emergency call button?"

A look of relief spread across the faces of my children. My son pushed the button, and a welcomed voice came through the speaker. My kids and I talked about our first tour after we got unstuck, and words of assurance occasionally interrupted our discussion with updates about our rescue. I noticed that as we talked and listened to rescue workers, my kids became more calm and trusting that we would be okay. We even shared some laughs about our elevator adventure. An hour later, we crawled out of the top half of the pried open elevator doors and found ourselves on our way to our room.

Many times in my life, I've been afraid to speak up, to speak out, or even to pursue God's plans for me out of fear that I would be judged or hurt in some way. As I was reflecting on a story I heard by Lisa Osteen Comes today, I was reminded of this event in my family's history. I thought, why was I strong in this moment when other times I have been paralyzed by fear? Surely I was scared of what could happen while we were stuck in there. Friends, I couldn't tell you what I felt in that moment other than a deep need to get my children to safety and faith that God would send help, putting a hedge of protection around us.

Do you suppose God feels the same kind of love and compassion when he sees our fear? I think He does. God was definitely with us in the elevator at that moment. In Joshua 1:9 (NIV), scripture says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Maybe adrenaline took over my fear in that elevator moment, but God was working behind the scenes, moving people to get us out and holding up the elevator to keep us safe. God was also not ignoring me; I felt His calm presence and found calm and trust reflected in the eyes of my children.

This, I believe: God was giving me courage and the self-discipline I needed to hear Him. That spike of adrenaline is part of the way God designed my body to respond in situations just like this. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) says, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." God saw what would pass with my children and me before we stepped into that elevator, and the holy spirit filled me with the love and self-discipline I needed to assure my children we would be safe.

When we put our trust in God, He shows out in ways we cannot foresee. Faith exists when people believe not on sight or because of proof but because people trust God to show out in their lives completely. Psalms 56:3 (NIV) says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." God will bring to pass His purpose for our good (Jeremiah 29:11). Not only did my kids and I get out of the elevator safely, but we were given free meals at the hotel restaurant for the duration of our stay. The 5 star restaurant menu would never have been in my budget, but we enjoyed about $300 worth of fine dining over the course of our 3 day stay. Instead of spending money on food, we were able to spend money on experiences--which included taking a taxi instead of walking when we got tired one day.

Not only did God hold us up in the elevator, God set us up. I had the opportunity to be an example of faith and trust for my children. Whenever we talk about the Chicago trip, my kids inevitably talk about getting stuck in the elevator and how that was highlight of the trip. They also talk about how they looked at me to see how I was going to react before deciding to panic. How interesting that all 3 of us had similar thoughts of love and concern for each other before considering our own feelings.

Our first adventure after spending over an hour waiting for the jaws of life to get us out of the metal probably guessed it...took us up to viewing deck of the Willis tower: an approximately 1 minute ride in an elevator up 110 stories. My kids and I are not afraid of elevators today. I'm convinced the reason is because I acted on faith.

Like Joyce Meyer says, sometimes you've just got to "Do it afraid." Keep calm and don't panic; God has something good in store for you! Praying for you to be fearless in your pursuit of your relationship with God today,


NOTE: This event took place about 15 years ago. I'm not sharing the name of the hotel because I had to sign a disclaimer, and the staff were both generous and gracious. The management attempted to compensate by giving us free meals while we stayed. Also, a team of engineers worked on fixing the elevator the whole weekend we were there. We didn't have another elevator incident during our visit.


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