Choosing Prayer over Worry
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
Vicki McCray who is my dear friend, coworker, and mentor, gave me this verse over 5 years ago. My husband had just got offered a new job in a different town. I had been teaching with Vicki at Moundville Elementary for 11 years and I had been in the school system for 15. I called her because I was worried and anxious about leaving a place that I loved and starting somewhere new. This verse comforted me during this time. I had no idea that impact it would have later on in my life.
My son, Jacob, at an early age started asking my husband if he could get into bull riding. We of course put it off, but Jacob kept asking. We have always supported our boys in sports and have tried to let them follow in the things they are passionate about. THIS was really hard though because it’s such a dangerous sport. My husband made him a bucking dummy, ordered books, videos, sent Jacob to rodeo schools, and found someone to coach Jacob. The day finally approached for Jacob to put everything he had learned together on a live bull. As I signed the waiver, I felt so sick to my stomach. Jacob got his gear on, climbed on a bull named Trash, and then nodded. He stayed on for 8 seconds and jumped off really pumped. As he pulled off his helmet, I saw a look in his eyes that I had never seen before. It was the look that I had seen in my older son, Nick’s, eyes when he played sports. It was the look that said, “I love every minute!” I knew we were in trouble from that moment.
As a parent of a bull rider, it is really hard to watch. I cringed the whole time, my face froze, and I think I might have stopped breathing. I was not okay until I saw Jacob up on the fence. But the look in his eyes and the love and friendships he found in rodeo made it worth it. He had found his passion.
Jacob went on to rodeo that year and did well and placed in several events. He also went to the world finals in Abilene, Texas. We continued to send Jacob to rodeo schools to improve. A friend told us about a two day school in Fitzpatrick, AL. Jacob was also playing football at the time. He had a game that Friday night and then we left and spent the night in Montgomery. The next morning, September 6, 2014, Jacob and I got breakfast and left for Fitzpatrick. I signed all the forms and left Jacob for the day because he would be in a class and learning techniques. My husband, Nicky, met me later that day and we both went to watch that night because the participants were riding. When we got there, Jacob walked up to us and was on cloud 9. We read a devotional and prayed, took pictures with the other riders, calmed first time parents down, and then it was time to begin. After a few riders in, it was Jacob’s turn to ride. He had such a great ride.
I began packing the car because I had thought, “Hey we are done, he’s ridden.” Jacob runs over to me and asks the question he usually did. “Can I get on one more bull?” Of course he wins the battle AGAIN because of the big blue eyes and that smile… The only thing was, I have to approve of the one he gets on. He pointed at the second bull and I shook my head to say, “Absolutely not.” Next, he nervously walks over to me in a way that says he’s not so sure about it either, but jogs back over to the shoot. He gets on anyway. Most of you know how this turns out. He and the bull head butted and Jacob was knocked unconscious. My husband and I both run over while everyone is assuring me that he will come to and there is no need for an ambulance. I explained that I was his mother and regardless he is going to the hospital. The lady in charge doesn’t make the call. We are in the middle of nowhere with no service except for the lady in charge that has Verizon with full service. I demand that everyone start praying right then and there. Jacob never comes to. After 15 minutes and my husband yelling to call the ambulance, the lady finally complies.
As the ambulance gets there and looks into Jacob’s eyes, I heard the words, “He has a severe brain injury and we need to incubate and life flight him. As the helicopter gets there and we sign papers to incubate, I remember the verse that Vicki shared with me. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” How do I not worry when I am told my son has a severe brain injury? It seems that if there is a time to worry, this is it. But I am telling you that this verse flooded my mind from the police car ride to the hospital. I know that the officer must have memorized it because I never stopped saying it. This verse gave me peace as I began to tell God what I needed.
I have not always been great at choosing prayer over worry. But continuing to do something makes it a habit. When Jacob or any of my family pulls out of the driveway, I watch, wave, and pray over them asking God to shield them with his protection and give them traveling mercies.
In Philippians 4:6, Paul isn’t saying that we do not have reasons to worry, but as Christians we are to avoid it. Worry has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the Old High German “wurgen” which means “to strangle” which is what worry does to our joy! http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_46-71#4:6
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained. – Arthur Somers Roche
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7.
Counting my blessings,