I felt it coming on. Sitting on the sterile vinyl bench, waiting, it began like it always does, with cold sweaty palms. Then the chest vibrations began, the ones that creep up my neck and make my brain feel hot, like it’s going to boil right out of my skull. Then a subtle racing of my heart that gradually increases until I wonder if I’m having a heart attack.
It was an early Monday morning at Mayo Clinic, and I was about to meet a new doctor, one who carried news I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear. News of scans and blood work and “atypical growth.” Jesus, help me get a grip here. This can’t be happening now.
It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I was on the verge of a panic attack in a tiny room on the 18th floor. Suddenly a quote I had read earlier in the day began coming back to me in pieces, and I felt a nudge to read it again. I glanced at the “No Cell Phones” sign on the door but pulled out my phone anyway, scrolling quickly to find it. And there it was, a picture of a backlit Celtic cross and the deeply profound yet simple words of St. Patrick:
Christ beside me…
He’s here. The words rushed through me quickly like adrenaline, but the opposite, a fast-moving, piercing peace. Beside me, with me, right here in this chilly antiseptic-smelling exam room.
Christ before me…
He knows. He knows the results, the ones that are going to come out of the doctor’s mouth. The good news, the bad news. Whatever it is, he’s already there, waiting for me to arrive.
Christ behind me…
He was there. Through every step of my life, he knew exactly what brought me to this moment. He knows my thoughts, my fears, my needs. He has never left me to fight alone.
Christ within me…
He lives in me. I will never find myself in a place he refuses to be. As much as my hands shake and heart pounds, he’s a part of who I am. This body, whether sick or healthy, is a place he wants to dwell.
Christ beneath me…
He is my strength, in the moments when I am a mess and don’t know what to pray or if I even want to pray. In the moments when I crumple to the floor, he is the rock where I fall. When I have to get up and walk because the world doesn’t stop for my tribulations, he is the crutches under my arms. And he won’t stop catching me when I stumble. I can lean heavy upon him. He won’t break.
Christ above me…
He is God. The one who speaks death into life and orders mountains to rise from the sea. He sees me from every angle and loves me in a way I will never understand in this world. He who is only good will take this moment and mold it to make me wiser, kinder, bolder, braver.
I walked over to the exam room window, pressed my hands against the cold glass. I spoke those words over and over to myself and felt my heartbeat slow.
I have found that in the deep valleys of life wait some of the greatest gifts we will ever receive. For me, the gift I received that St. Patrick’s Day was better than a four-leaf clover, better than a green beer or a leprechaun.
The doctor eventually made his way to the room where I waited, where WE waited. That day, he had good news for me, but St. Patrick’s words meant even more. They were a perfectly wrapped present, a love note from my Savior, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
If you are in need of a love note today, it’s waiting for you right here:
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
I’m praying you feel him with you today, friend. Maybe, like me, you need to grab the words of St. Patrick and hold tight as you walk through a challenging day. May they speak a promise over your life and peace into your heart.
“Christ beside me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise.”
– St. Patrick