As thoughts raced through my mind, terror-filled questions spilled out to the ambulance attendant.
"Why aren't we going to Northeast Baptist Hospital?”
"University Hospital is where we have to take people that can't pay," he said in a matter-of-fact tone.
"I told you I have insurance. Why won't you listen to me?" I demanded.
Then, calmly—I thought too calmly—he replied, "Ma'am, we have to take everyone there who attempts suicide."
I had to remind myself to breathe. Have you ever been so fearful that you felt as though the blood in your veins had turned to ice water? Ever since I could remember, when faced with fear, it felt as though my blood turned cold. As this took place, and with muffled voices, it became hard to hear. In slow motion, the bodies of those around me were fading away, as well.
"But I didn't try to kill myself this time! It was an accident! You don't understand! It was an accident!" I managed to screech at him.
"Calm down, lady! If you don't calm down, we're going to have to tie you down."
Desperation continued to spew from the soul trapped inside my body, as anxiety took over.
"But I don't want to go to University Hospital! I have insurance! I can pay! I didn't try to kill myself! I didn't try to kill myself this time. It was an accident! I tell you it was an accident!”
But was it? A wave of unwanted but familiar panic raced through my body. It had been thirteen years since I became a Christian. Struggles between the flesh and the Spirit of God were long and complicated, but I did not see this coming. How could this happen again? I thought.
Lying on the narrow gurney, amid the ear-piercing ambulance siren, I hoped for a short ride. With those thoughts in mind, I decided to convince the attendant the situation was not what he thought. I needed to get out of this situation. Christians are not supposed to be in these types of predicaments.
Trying hard to look in control with chaos whirling in my mind, the voice blaring in my face to “calm down” caused my own voice to shake.
"Where is University Hospital, and why do I have to go there? I told you I have insurance, and I always go to Northeast Baptist. Why do I have to go there?”
In that matter-of-fact tone again, he said, "It's about fifteen minutes away, ma'am. Just try to relax. We'll be there soon."
I drifted off to that place where no one else is allowed. A false sense of comfort fell over me. It started when I was a child. It provided a shield for me from all harm. It was silly, because I knew harm could come my way. Nevertheless, I believed all feelings and emotions were hidden.
“Breathe, Barbara, breathe. Who is this person lying on this cot? She looks familiar. Is that me?”
Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
~ Isaiah 43:19 ~
The three years prior to this epic ambulance ride rank high among my awful years. They also rank high in experiencing the grace and mercy of the all-powerful God. For ten years, I begged and pleaded with God to crush the demonic hold on my life. It did not happen. At every turn, the trials continued to pile higher and higher. A loving God would want His child to be happy and whole, right? So why was it unreasonable to ask for healing? Where was God?
The woman at the well in John 4 replied to Jesus when He offered her living water. The Bible doesn’t say much about her thinking process, but why did she say, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw” (John 4:15)? Was she sincere, or did mockery prompt her reply? I don’t think she understood the “everlasting life” part (verse 14). Did she think He did not have such a thing to offer? Clearly, her focus was on herself instead of on who the Messiah was.
Whether she understood or not, her curiosity was piqued. That was the intent of our Lord.
The problem was she wanted the living water for the wrong reasons. If she had it, she wouldn’t have to chance running into the other women and facing the contempt in their faces when they saw her. She wanted comfort and ease.
There is nothing wrong with wanting comfort and ease of life. Our heavenly Father wants that for us too. But when it takes priority over the things of God, then there’s a problem with our relationship with Him. Wanting to be comfortable and having our trials taken away can interfere with worshiping God. He wants us to acknowledge His worth in spirit and in truth. It is His desire that we bring all our tender feelings and emotions, cravings and desires to His throne. We worship Him in truth when every purpose and passion of our heart and every act of worship is guided and regulated by His Word.
In worshiping Him, the principal aim should be that the worship proceeds from a sincere heart. My desire should be to please God first. If that means I will experience discomfort, then so be it. In the end, the reward of obedience is far greater than the trial. If God chooses to heal me, then that’s a bonus.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
~ Matthew 11:28 ~
It wasn’t unreasonable for me to ask for healing. However,
my focus was on myself. What could God do for me to make my life better? Even
after being a Christian for ten years, I tried to bribe God by saying I would
function better for Him if He healed me. Even though He loves us
unconditionally, where we are, He does not want us to stay in our sin or stay
in a state of mind and heart that would keep us from growing closer to Him. He
wants the best for us.
If you have children, would you give them candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just because it would make them happy? No! That would be harmful to them. Would you allow your children to run in the street because they want to play there? No! You get the point.
Oh, but I’m grown, and I know better, you say. How many wrong choices have you made because you thought it was what you wanted? Have they all turned out for your good? God never makes a mistake. He always knows what’s best for us. We just don’t want to heed His direction because we want to be in constant control of our lives. There’s great fear in trusting someone to lead and guide us in the direction that one says. Even if it is God, we fear trusting Him. Why? Because we’re prideful. Our attitude is, I want what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. Even if I keep making the same wrong choices repeatedly, I don't trust you, and I want to do it my way.
When we keep insisting on doing things our way, God will take His hands off and let us hit that proverbial brick wall. When we cry out to Him again, He will always be right there. If we are sincere, He will be close by. He doesn’t move; we do.
Christ will not come out of the Bible like a genie, when we rub His Word. To rub my Bible and see God come and rescue me was what I wanted. I wanted someone to rescue me and make me happy, not someone I had to serve.
Labor in Matthew 11:28 means to feel fatigue, to work hard, to be wearied. Are you fatigued and wearied in life or in your relationship with God?
Heavy laden means to overburden with ceremony or spiritual anxiety.
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
~ Isaiah 42:3 NLT ~
Crush, or break, in Isaiah 42:3 means to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively; to discourage, oppress, and/or struggle. The oppression in my life dominated every thought and move I made, and it came from the pit of hell. God would show me that He would not break my heart but rather strengthen and bind it up.
It is not about me. It’s not about my feelings. It is not about circumstances. Would I be okay if He never did another thing in my life? Would I put my selfish needs aside and obey His call?
The pull to abuse alcohol and drugs loomed over my life for decades. Now, God was about to change my life in the most unlikely place. However, as the madness in my mind controlled me, the devil, who was determined to destroy all that God had planned for me, continued to rear his ugly head. How could such a good God save me and then turn my life around—for what seemed like the worst?
Be anxious for nothing.
For this, I need to start at the beginning...
"The Woman at the Well...today" page