Sifting back through some old blog posts from when we first moved to New England, I ran across this gem and thought I’d share it with you lovely people.
No one laughs at God in a hospital;
No one laughs at God in a war.
Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m a recovering fraidy cat. Fear weighs down so many aspects of my life that it’s amazing I can walk upright. My list of dread includes (but is certainly not limited to) being murdered in my house, kidnapped, mauled by some strange animal, or driving off a bridge into the water below. Ever since childhood, though, my worst enemy has remained constant: the dark. (More specifically, what could be lurking in the dark.)
My bedrooms have incorporated lava lamps, light up aquariums, candles, flashlights, a hanging bucket full of Christmas lights, and a beaded night light. Yes, even my college dorm room. When Riley spent Sunday nights in Texas last semester so he could make it to early seminary classes on Mondays, I turned almost every light on and had enough candles (in case of a storm) to create a relatively impressive shrine. Unsurprisingly, the darkness in Connecticut is just as terrifying as that which I left behind in Oklahoma.
Saturday night, I woke up to the familiar sense of anxiety, so I did what any sane person who has read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness would do: I started praying like nobody’s business. Isn’t it interesting how scary situations make an invisible God not seem like such a strange idea? As I felt like it was an extreme possibility that I might die before morning, I figured a good old come-to-Jesus talk was in order. It didn’t go at all as expected. Here’s the general idea of our conversation:
K: I’ve been reading a lot lately about the difference between knowing about You and knowing You intimately. Jesus, we’ve been on this journey for a while now, but I really want to get to know You, and I want You to know me.
Jesus: Okay. So tell me one thing about yourself.
K: But You made me and You already know everything!
Jesus: Yeah, but I want you to tell me.
K: Well, since this is fresh on my mind, I’m scared of pretty much everything.
And then, in the gentlest way possible but mixed with unquestionable truth,
Jesus: You know, every inch of your life that you give to fear is a piece of you that you haven’t given Me control of. You can’t serve two masters, and fear has been in charge of you for a long time.
After picking my jaw up off the floor, I flashed back to earlier in the day.
Riley and I had volunteered to help with the Great Pumpkin Festival in Putnam, and I was stationed at the library craft area helping little kids make ghosts by covering Tootsie Roll Pops with Kleenexes and tying a piece of string around the stick. They used markers to decorate the ghosts’ faces. Although some creations emerged as happy as a humongous smile could make them, others, covered in blood, were pretty disturbing as far as candy goes. Parents feigned terror at the end product to each child’s delight. Numerous kids asked me when they could eat their suckers. I answered, “When you get bored of him being a ghost, he’ll just be a lollipop that you can eat.”
Flash forward to the darkened bedroom. God showed me that I have filled my life with little ghosts: thoughts, memories of scenes from movies and books, stories from the news and assorted acquaintances. I have dressed them up with my imagination and given them scary faces. Occasionally I share them with friends who politely seem freaked out by them (while probably secretly thinking, Seriously? She’s convinced something horrible lives in her attic?). The truth remains that all I have to do is get bored of them being ghosts and they turn back into trifles that can easily be disposed of.
Lordship—the complete surrender of control to an authority figure—is fitting only in the nail-scarred hands of Christ. I had been robbing Him of a life solely focused on His glory because I was too busy being afraid for myself. Well, I thought, what do all of my fears have in common? Pain? Yes. I am the object of all sorts of agony in my imagination. Every time I entertain those thoughts, I make myself the center of my universe. Fear is narcissistic.
Moreover, it makes Jesus seem weak and pitiful. He has said, “I will never leave you,” “I know what you need before you even tell me,” and “I am a mighty one who will save.” If I believed that, why would I cower under my blankets? Fear exposes my embarrassingly small amount of faith. Christ has been dwarfed by my silly little ghosts for so long—what a slap in the face to the Hero who was beaten and bruised to save me, who wrestled with hell and won!
I’m so glad God is relentless in His love for us. He used my fear to draw me closer to Himself and to expose an area He wants to consume with His strength and peace. While I sense a face-to-face battle with my fears quickly approaching, now I can turn out the lights—all of them—and trust the Light of the world to illuminate my path and the Pillar of fire to guide me through the night.