Dismantling Old Monsters

I passed the monster every morning for a year. And I’m not speaking metaphorically here—it was a massive red, hulking thing draped in a cloak, and it waited for me in the piano room when the house was asleep. I was a high school band kid, up before anyone else so I could get to marching practice on time. Part of my morning routine was going for q-tips in my little brother’s bathroom on the other side of the house, and I had to pass through the piano room on my way. So I faced a daily date with the beast: absurdly long claws, piercing eyes hidden by a hood, and this horrible silence that spoke volumes against my safety.

No, I wasn’t delusional. I had recently watched M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, “The Village.” (Now I know better—highly sensitive people avoid scary/disturbing images for a reason. But I was clueless as a senior.) I couldn’t stop my brain from regularly projecting this embodiment of terror, and it remained in my path until I moved out for college.

As time went on, the monster began to fade. Years softened the image into fuzziness. Until last month.

I woke up around three in the morning, groggy and not quite certain of anything but the time. A tiny piece of my brain—the rebel instigator in me—whispered, “It’s dark! You know what we haven’t thought about in a while? The monster.” And there it was, looming heavy near the foot of my bed.

And then truth, from somewhere completely outside of myself, began ripping through my window and the shards of wee-hour consciousness. Thoughts started hitting me about the monster and the movie that had never struck me before, a steady current of light piercing this old darkness. Things like, “Yes, it wears red, the “dangerous color” in the movie; but there’s a scarlet cloak thrown over you by the Son who came to cover you, and it’s the only safe color to bring before the King. The beast fought you—Jesus fights for you. The beast hunches over; Jesus stands tall, arms open wide over you. The beast chased you to do you harm; Jesus walks with you to protect and encourage you. You don’t have to run away anymore.”

Truth after truth after truth pounded my heart, and my reeling mind tried to grab hold of the ideas despite the murk of semi-awareness. I was sleepy, but I felt this was important to witness. As the monster from all those years ago was being ripped a heavenly new one, I felt a fierce sense of peace settle over the deep part of me.

I get that this might sound a little nutty, a little silly, a little too personal to mean much to you. That’s okay. You have your own monster. I just wanted to remind you that your Daddy won’t let it stand forever. When the time is right, He will rise up and fight for you in a way that utterly melts your heart. You’ll shake your head and wonder why you ever doubted His love for you even once. I hope you remember in that moment that He’s a safe place to break down in, to sob and laugh and whoop in triumph. This God who knows no boundary lines with His kids, who is wholly bent on our freedom and redemption? He is disconcertingly intimate.

Joshua 10 is one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament. It reads like a Mel Gibson film, and if you can imagine cinematic lighting and music, the scene will take your breath away. The better your imagination, the more powerful this passage becomes. Most people gravitate toward the miracle of the sun standing still found in verses 12 and 13, but that’s not why I love this part. As weird as it sounds, I find deep comfort in verse 11: “As [the bad guys] fled before [the good guys]…, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the [good guys].” (Like I said, weird.)

Here we see God not calmly delegating rescue for His people but rolling up His sleeves and actively fighting those who would destroy His family. Our Warrior King used His hands to create the burning sun, to hurl hailstones at the bad guys, and to purchase our souls as they were pierced clean through.

One of my big take-aways from the night my monster was dismantled is this: after all of my plans and resources and action steps and counseling and endeavors to deal with my own stuff, God swooped in and delivered me when I was half-asleep. I didn’t have to engineer my healing. He is still as mighty to save now as He was leading His children in a parade of victory against five armies. His reach is no shorter in this minute than it was as He rumbled hell with a rolling stone. The blood running scarlet is my cloak, the terrors of the night have ended. All that’s left is joy.

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