January 9, 2009
“There’s someone walking around in the kitchen!” Tiffany whimpered. Her statement was subdued but there was no hiding the fear in her voice.
Startled out of my slumber I glanced at the clock on my nightstand…12:30 am. Sleep would have to be postponed. My daughter needed me to come to her rescue, to provide peace, comfort and protection in the midst of her anxiety. Usually late night interruptions would annoy me, but not this time. I jumped at the opportunity to play dad, relishing in my mind the thought that she needed me once again. It had been nearly two years since I had walked her down the aisle and given her away to another “protector.” Now she had returned home for a few days to help refurbish my office and rekindle a relationship that time and distance had allowed to cool.
Since my office now occupied her old bedroom (one of the perks of having children move away from home) she had been sleeping on the futon in our family room, just a few feet away from the kitchen and the terrifying sounds of an intruder. So who, or what, had awakened my daughter and created the panic that took her upstairs to be in the presence of her father? No matter, beast or burglar, I was there to protect her. Grabbing my flashlight and stepping into my slippers I bravely led my daughter back downstairs, creating as much noise as possible and flipping on light switches as we went. Perhaps we could convince the intruder that I was a 250 lb. linebacker and thus frighten our adversary into running away. Okay, so it was a stupid idea, at least all the noise and bright lights made us feel more courageous.
A quick check of the windows and doors found them all securely closed and locked. A further detailed, room by room search of the downstairs came up empty. No burglar, no murderer, no vicious animal…nothing! My fatherly duty had been accomplished; it was time to call it a night.
“It was probably just a mouse,” I said matter-of-factly. Oops, wrong answer! I had forgotten that to Tiffany, murderers and mice are equally feared. Having planted the thought in her mind I had only to wait another fifteen minutes before my little blunder bore fruit. She appeared in our bedroom once again, this time carrying her pillow and planning to stay.
“There’s a mouse in the kitchen!” she proclaimed. “I heard it scratching and running across the floor!”
Once again I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, reached for my flashlight, donned my slippers and headed downstairs. This time we carefully searched all the kitchen cupboards, along the baseboards, and behind the fridge looking for any tell-tale signs of rodents. As before, this search also turned up nothing.
Rather than call off our quest, we decided on a new tactic. Turning off all the lights we sat down and waited…and waited…and waited. Sure enough, after about twenty minutes of darkness and low whispers, our patience was rewarded with a tiny sound, a faint shuffling across the linoleum.
“Did you hear that?” whispered my daughter.
I sprang into action and shined the flashlight in the direction of the kitchen trash can. And there, scooting across the floor, looking ever so threatening, was a ferocious, man-eating………………MOTH!!! Without hesitation, with total disregard for my personal safety, and with all the courage I could muster I reached for my weapon of choice, a trusty fly swatter, took aim, and let the heinous intruder have the full measure of my wrath. In a split second the fire-breathing dragon lay slain on the battlefield and my damsel-in-distress was gloriously saved. As she gratefully swept up the remains of the vanquished enemy I flushed with pride over my stunning victory. Well, truthfully I nearly died laughing over wasting so much time worrying about something so tiny. Nevertheless, it was gratifying being able to come to the aid of my daughter. Isn’t that what fathers are supposed to do?
Why is it that our fears most often prove to be vastly out of proportion when compared to the reality of the dangers we actually face? Is it because we let our imaginations run wild? Or is it the result of watching too many frightening movies and TV shows? Or do we just have too little faith? I suspect all three reasons are probably true, but lack of trust in our Lord may be the greatest cause of irrational fear, or any fear for that matter.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:28-31. “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1.
I guess it is pretty easy to be apprehensive about the future these days. With war escalating in the Middle East, India and Pakistan on the verge of a nuclear holocaust, terrorism on the march, the persecution of Christians on the rise throughout the world, a severe economic crisis in full swing, global climate change threatening our very existence, political upheaval in this country, and riots breaking out here in the Bay Area, it’s understandable that we might find ourselves entertaining a little anxiety. Yet the Bible makes it clear that faith and fear cannot coexist.
“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” – Matthew 8:26. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33. “…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” – 1John 5:4.
What should we do when we find ourselves overcome by fear? Take a hint from my daughter and take your panic upstairs. Spend some time in the presence of your heavenly Father. Bring your pillow and plan on staying awhile. No other protector will do. Far from being annoyed He will jump at the opportunity to play dad and take joy that you are counting on Him to come to your rescue, to provide peace, comfort, and protection in the midst of your highest anxieties. He will also shine His light on your fears revealing how unfounded they really are. And He’s certainly bigger than a 250 lb. linebacker!
“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’” – Isaiah 35:3-4. “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” – Isaiah 41:13.
So, sleep well tonight. No murderer, mouse, nor moth; no dragon, economic downturn, nor medical diagnosis; no terror in the night, termination of employment, nor trial of our faith dare threaten our peace. Our Dad stands ready to come to our aid! Isn’t that what dads are supposed to do?
“…because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’” – Hebrews 13:5-6.
Bill, a child of God resting in His peace