As I finish my children’s bedtime story, I close the book and hop up from their bed. We run through the usual routine of hymn-singing and bedtime prayers, and everyone gets their good-night kisses in as they all think up one “last” very important thought that must be voiced before I can leave the room for the night. As we muddle through the twenty “goodnight” farewells, the last words spoken are always the same.
“Leave the light on! Leave the door all the way open,” they remind me.
This is not an unfamiliar step of our bedtime process; I am very well acquainted with their desires. As we turn the main light off, we turn on the Spiderman nightlight, the Buzz Lightyear nightlight on the adjacent wall, both the bathroom lights, and of course we must always leave the bathroom door open. The special stuffed turtle night light, “Turtle Stars,” projects tiny glowing star-shaped light from the foot of the bed to the ceiling. Last but certainly not least, the bedroom door must remain all the way open.
Around 2:00 a.m. I hear the pitter-patter of little feet rushing to my door, followed by the sound of the turning doorknob and the familiar words, “Iiiiiii’m scaaaared.” Half-asleep, I would love to shoo them to their room, with a groggy “Don’t be scared, go back to bed,” but I know it won’t work. They need more than a a Spiderman nightlight and more than a quick reassurance. They want my nearness.
In the middle of the night, my frightened children need to be near us and will only be calmed and quieted by our physical presence. Some nights we scoop them up and return them to their bed, tuck them in and stand by for the few moments it takes for them to return to peaceful slumber. Other nights we give them permission to build a pallet on the floor beside our bed. Knowing our nearness and feeling our closeness quiets their fears in the darkness of the night.
As an adult, I’ve long since conquered my fears of the dark. But I still have monsters under my bed and they taunt me night and day:
- I’m not feeding my family all organic food: I’m probably poisoning them.
- Our car needs a new_________. How will we ever afford it?
- I accidentally left he oven on this morning, I bet our house is burning down.
Whether it’s running errands around town or standing over the kitchen sink washing dishes, I can easily drift into fearful worry. The smallest things can lead me to draw ridiculous conclusions.
- My husband’s not answering the phone – maybe he was in a car wreck.
- I have a stomach cramp – It’s probably cancer.
- My friend never called me back – she must hate me.
These crafty shifting shadows steal my comfort and my peace of mind. But even worse – they threaten my faith. Fear takes my eyes off of Jesus and His faithfulness to redeem (Titus 2:14) anything and everything. Fear keeps me from trusting God’s promises (Psalm 115:11) and paralyzes me from taking steps of faithful obedience (John 15:10), showing love to others (John 13:34), and sharing the good news of the Gospel (Matthew 28:19). My actions and lack thereof, prove I care more about “playing it safe” than I care about trusting God.
His Light & Nearness
Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and scripture says whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness (John 8:12). He offers His life and the light of hope for every fearful sinner who believes. Jesus’ perfect life and substitutionary death perfect life expelled the darkness of this sinful world. Shouldn’t it also expel all of our rational and irrational fears? Each time I fear, it is a reminder of my own need for the gospel to redeem my brokenness.
In Christ, I have nothing to fear in death or life. Because Christ lived a perfect life and died a sinner’s death to pardon my sinful disbelief, I no longer need to fear any “what if” situation; my fears of this world are no longer justifiable. In the Light of Christ, I can also see His nearness. Through His forgiveness, He draws me near – keeping me and protecting me from harm.
Like my little nighttime snugglers find midnight refuge and peace at the foot of our bed, I too find refuge in the light of the gospel and the nearness of Christ.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”Psalm 118:6