By Chris Baker, NEC Worship Leader
“What’s the next step Doc?” I asked, rocking slowly forward and back, (the 1st sign I’m about to have an anxiety attack, in one of those REALLY uncomfortable chairs that all doctors seem to have in their offices). “Well,” he said, “I’ve got an opening in 2 weeks. You’ll need to be at the hospital Monday morning at 5:30 AM so we can prep you for a 7:00 AM surgery for your right hand.” He continued, “If that surgery goes well, and your right hand is doing better, three weeks later we’ll do your left hand.”
My wife constantly quotes Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” As you might have guessed, as soon as I told her, out popped that scripture! Despite her concerns of back-to-back surgeries, she remained confident God had this under control. She refused to let go of her peace.
Those next 2 weeks seemed to drag on forever. On the outside, things had to go on as normal. I had a job to do, a family to support, a music ministry to lead. On the inside…well…that was a daily, if not sometimes minute struggle. Even with all the prayer that was being thrown, not sent, THROWN my way every day, the Devil was still hiding outside my “mind’s window”. Every now and then, he’d poke his head around the corner and remind me he was still there. Sometimes I was strong, and he’d leave. Other times, I’d open that window to get some fresh air (peace/calm in my mind), forgetting he was there, and in he came! Doh! *facepalm* I was not living James 1:7, “Resist the devil, and he will flee.” Or John 14:27. “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
My anxiety attacks continued over the next two weeks, especially when the pain in my hands increased to the point I could not sleep or hold a guitar pick. I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t as bad as I was expecting. Historically, my anxiety attacks would have me clawing at the walls, or trying to run out of the house screaming, attempting to escape from…well…nothing, in the physical world. In the spiritual world… now that was different. I’ve learned that MY anxiety attacks are always spiritual battles. When I have an attack, the Devil or his minions know exactly what to throw at me. For example: “I wonder what Mom is going to do when Dad dies?” My Dad is perfectly healthy. “What would my life look like if my wife just left me?” La Tisha would NEVER do that. The greatest being, “What if I can never play guitar again because the nerves are permanently dead?” Sometimes, I have no idea what I’m worried or anxious about. My only answer those times is, “I…Don’t…Know…”.
There’s nothing more powerful than prayer, except a praying wife who happens to be a preacher’s kid. Haha! I have been blessed with an AMAZING support system/team. It’s populated by family, friends, and church members. I had people tell me that they were praying for me that I had never met in my life. Some of them were even in other countries! “Thank you…sir/ma’am!” was about all I could say. The Message translation of Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” I’ve heard that scripture thrown around for all my life in different Bible study groups or Men’s groups I’ve been a part of. I can tell you first-hand that it’s true.
Finally, those two long weeks were over. Surgery was the next day. I made it through Sunday’s rehearsal and worship service, despite the extreme pain, by the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.’” Only His strength is what allowed me to play. Just before walking off stage, Pastor Cory and Pastor Richelle came up to lead a church wide prayer for both surgeries and the upcoming months of healing. I cannot tell you the emotions in that moment…overwhelmed, humbled, grateful…There were less than 24 hours left. Yes, I had this before but what if it didn’t work. I had to remember God’s promise, “I will never leave your or forsake you.” (Deut 31:6, Heb 13:5, Josh 1:5, I Kings 8:57, Gen 28:15, John 14:1)
On surgery day, La Tisha and I sat in the waiting room. She wasn’t allowed to go back with me but at least she could wait in the waiting room, and not out in the truck. Both our parents called and prayed with us just before I was called back to begin. “Mr. Baker…” I heard the nurse call. “See you in just a bit.” La Tisha said. “Just breath…” — Me