Nearly two years ago I had a difficult season of anxiety, complete with racing heart, physical weariness, anxious thoughts spiraling out of control, and life-altering worry that engulfed my every thought and breath. One of the ways my anxiety crippled my life during that challenging time was when I drove at high speeds on the interstate.
Usually when I drive up and down the west coast of Florida on Interstate-75, I’m fine. In fact, driving places was never an issue in my life until I had my first experience with anxiety a few years back. My family lives almost two hours south in Cape Coral, and I’ve shuttled myself and my boys between Tampa and Cape Coral often. I know each exit and overpass, which sections are two or three-lane, and the busiest cities to drive through.
But when the anxiety comes on, rational thought escapes like a plastic bag sucked out an open window on a speeding car.
One day, I made plans to meet up with friends at the University of South Florida in Tampa. USF has a beautiful, sprawling campus, and one particular pond-dotted section is full of ducks, birds, and turtles that love to be fed. During the summer, I take Cole and Chase to USF often enough that the ducks run toward our SUV when we arrive.
I loaded the boys up and did my best to ignore the dread curling my fingers over the steering wheel. As we entered the on-ramp to I-75 and joined the other vehicles on the busy interstate, the double, triple-thump of my heart caused a wave of fear to crash over me.
Scripture came to mind, a balm in the middle of my island of anxiety. “…do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NKJV).
A truck came into view on the road ahead. It was an old, beat up work truck with two gentlemen’s arms hanging out both open windows in the cab. The truck clicked over from the right lane to the middle lane, in front of my vehicle, and my eyes almost popped out of my head. On the back of the truck’s cab was a large picture of Jesus’s face.
For the next couple of miles, the Jesus truck drove in front of me on northbound I-75. My hands let off their tentacle hold on the steering wheel, and my emotions veered back and forth between laughing and crying about the beautiful reminder that Jesus is truly always with us. When the truck clicked on its turning signal for the right lane and then entered the I-4 ramp to drive east, I wiped away a tear.
God is always with us. In a season of fear, worry, poor health, difficult finances, or just a time of waiting, don’t doubt Him. He will never leave you or forsake you.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)
“Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that You promise You will never leave us or forsake us. Help us cling to that promise during life’s difficult seasons…”