"...those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17 (NASB)
"Salvation alone does not conclude God's purpose in life for us. His desire is to return us to restored rulership. This means a recovery of self-control, of personal identity, of stabilized temperament and character." Jack Hayford, Rebuilding the Real You
All of the characteristics Jack Hayford mentions can be achieved if we are in Christ Jesus. By being "in" Christ Jesus, I mean bringing your heart and your mind into alignment with Him--with His perfect will and purpose. When I was having panic attacks, I was not aligned with Jesus. For years I lived by my own will, plans, thoughts, and wisdom. I rarely prayed except at night before going to bed. Then, I would dash off the Lord's Prayer to assuage the guilt of not really being close to God. I constantly worried about my life and my loved ones. I lived in dread of making a mistake or failing to live up to everyone's perception of me. I got through each day by the skin of my teeth. It was the only way I knew how to live.
Panic attacks, constant restlessness, and intense anxiety finally drove me to my knees in desperation. I cried out to God and while I waited, I did indepth Bible studies. I found consolation in God's Word and in allowing myself to believe that He genuinely loved me and was concerned about me. I started believing what the Bible said and slowly my thoughts began to be aligned with His. I know that by surrendering to His will for me in everything--whether I understood what was happening or not--I began letting Him rule in my life. And over time my self-control, my sense of personal identity, my moods and my character began to improve. I say over time because that was the way God chose to heal me. Day-by-day, taking each step breathing in His love and His Word, I walked right into newness of life. It was scary for me at first. I'd never been "brave" before. I'd never truly stepped out in faith before. But every time I took a step out of my comfort zone, God's Word went with me, and miraculously I felt safe.
I am not a perfect being. I cannot maintain my relationship with the Lord on my own. When I become battle-weary, when my enemies surround me, when I feel my mind slipping back into helplessness, when I struggle to find hope in seemingly hopeless situations, He is there for me. He is in covenant with me, and He is faithful to keep us together. If it were not for Him and His guidance and help, I would walk myself right back into panic attacks, fear, and deep depression.
I praise Him this morning for His faithfulness to me. For all He's done and for what He did just this morning. I awoke from a nightmare--the kind that makes you gasp for breath while your heart is pounding in your chest. I read the first verse on my sheet of Bible verses regarding victory over fear--Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you by my righteous right hand." I prayed to God and thanked Him that He strengthens me and helps me. That He holds me in His righteous right hand. And He brought to my mind another verse--"He is your constant source of stability." I can't give you a Scripture reference right now. I don't know it by heart, but I can tell you that I felt so much better. Protected. Loved. It's a different protection and love than my husband's presence always provides. It goes deeper, and this morning I felt the change from fear to love inside my heart. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.