Today’s post comes to us from a friend I’ve known since back in my old Bible College days. Holly has recently taken the plunge and started her own blog. Be sure to check out Makeshift Wonder and make her feel welcome!
I know it’s after Halloween, but I just need to get something off my chest. I’m admitting, for the first time on public record, that I Holly Crawford, may have been one of the wimpiest children EVER when it came to anything remotely frightening. The flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz? Terrifying! Those mean old dinosaurs from Jurassic Park? Shudder inducing. Thanks to Stephen King’s It, and frankly just the nature of clowns, sleeping in the room with my grandmother’s clown collection made for some very…long…nights.
Thanks to my semi-self torturing love for Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, I definitely had plenty of long nights, wrestling with the things that go bump in said nights. Lying in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, hyper-alert for every noise, creak, or shadow. The ‘what ifs’ in those noises panicked me, breaking me out in cold sweats and forcing me to turn on the blessed closet light to banish all zombified, creepy crawlies back into the dark from whence they came.
You know, the ‘what ifs’ still have the ability to terrify me, but the closet light just doesn’t work the same on these bumps in the night. They’re a different breed, and a little harder to banish. They look like failure, change, not changing, heartbreak, disappointment, loss, rejection, reprisal, social unrest, global unrest, the inability to make a difference, loneliness selfishness, under-achievement. All of these things, have the ability to paralyze with fear. Not to mention, as one gets older, you come to see real evil in the world, maybe even experience it first hand, and you realize something….the world CAN, most definitely, be a scary place. And moreover, you, me, they, we, can be just as monstrous.
King David strikes me as a guy who would get what I am talking about. In his own reign, he seemed to deal with quite a few of his own monsters. Let’s see, there was that one tall guy…and a crazy, murderous king with a penchant for music. Oh, and his own family looked more like the Manson family than the royal rulers of a great nation, killing and raping one another, and then trying to off dear old dad to usurp the throne. David wasn’t even safe from himself, committing adultery with Bathsheba, and then disposing of her husband in a despicable way. He seemed to live with not only constant ‘what ifs’, but also the ‘yeah, that thing that was the worst possible ‘what if’ I could think of, that just happened’. He had every reason to fear, and fear HARD.
Seems like David did a lot of his best writing during times of fear and turmoil. Here, a few tidbits:
“The LORD is my light and salvation. Who is there to fear? The LORD is my life’s fortress. Who is there to be afraid of?” Psalm 27:1
“Even when I am afraid, I will trust you. I praise the word of God. I trust God. I am not afraid. What can mere flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4
Oh, and of course this little known diddy:
“Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, I will fear no evil, because you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
I should take inspiration from these words, and I do. But if I’m going to bare an already vulnerable part of myself on the interwebs, I might as well confess: I don’t always believe these words. “Even when I am afraid, I will trust you” sounds great, but my biggest fears, those of failure, rejection, reprisal, and being an overall disappointing human being, still seem to keep me up and nights. And even praying to an all powerful Father, doesn’t make me feel like any less of a failure at times.
Sometimes, my ‘what ifs’ about the future surround me on all sides like David’s enemies, and all I can muster to do is cry, or curse, or take a nap. Sometimes, the divisions in society, the losses suffered, the general feeling of unrest and unease take their toll…something is so wrong, and so frightening.
But, I’d like to offer a closet light if I may….
God gets it. We’re all fractured from him at the moment. We let go of our Dad’s hand in a crowded fun house and now our reflections have become monstrous and distorted without him. But he has never stopped looking for his frightened children. He has never stopped reminding them what they mean to him, the worth he places in them, the things they can accomplish when they come out from under fear.
So, maybe David was on to something. Maybe, Christ overcame his own fears to endure the cross for something beautiful and profound in us. Maybe fear is a part of the journey that cannot be outrun. But maybe, just maybe, it reminds us of a search that has never been given up, and has never been abandoned. Now that, is better than a closet light.