I wrote this article for the recent edition of the Link & Visitor magazine – a publication by the Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
– Joshua 1:9
“Go upstairs and get dressed, Elijah.”
“Will you come with me?”
“Why do you want me to come with you?”
“Because I’m too scared of the dark.”
He’s been saying this to me for almost a year now. There are two night lights in his room and a list of “Fear-Fighting” Bible verses taped to his wall. We pray for no bad dreams every night before bed. He used to crawl into our bed in the middle of the night – so cute and cuddly. Now he’s too scared to leave his room until the light starts to peek through his window shade in the morning. My husband thinks it’s great that he’s broken the habit of these middle-of-the-night visits, but really he’s just replaced the old habit with a new habit of fear. Besides, I miss those snuggle visits! Elijah is six now, so I know the mid-night snuggles had to end eventually, but what to do about all this fear that’s crept into his life? The way he cowers at the darkness, the terrified look in his eyes – what’s a mother to do?
I see myself in his cowering stance and his big, blue eyes full of fear. I ask my friends for advice. I ask myself, ‘How does God handle me when I’m afraid?’ I think back to the way God held my hand through the darkness of loneliness when I was single and lived far from family, the darkness of grief when our Caleb was stillborn, and the darkness of confusion when my dreams and plans seemed to disappear.
I’m scared of the dark too. I don’t like it one bit. I want to help my sweet boy overcome his fears and be able to move freely through the home God has given him.
I tell Elijah this house is safe, that there’s even Bible verses stapled in the walls. I tell him no monsters or ghosts are allowed in this house, only God’s angels are allowed. I remind him that he is God’s warrior and needs to put on his armour of God. He just keeps looking at me with those bright blue sparkles of innocence.
I pray a silent prayer for wisdom and have a moment of inspiration. I tell Elijah to grab his flashlight and I tell him to use the light to make the darkness disappear. The light will show the way. That should make him brave, strong, and courageous. That should take away the terror and the discouragement of fear.
He grabs his flashlight and fixes those beautiful eyes on me once again. “Will you come with me, Mommy?”
“But you have your flashlight to take away the darkness. You try to go by yourself now.”
“No. I’m still too scared. Please come with me.”
I think back to my Heavenly Father and the many times He held my hand in the darkness. I take Elijah’s hand and his flashlight guides our path up the stairs to turn on more lights, bigger lights, stronger lights. Lights that drown out all the darkness. Then my son tells me he’s OK now.
I come back downstairs to pack lunches for school. I think about how my presence, and a little light, make all the difference for my son. He can deal with the fear when he knows someone is beside him, when he can see a little light, then more light, and even more light until the darkness is gone. The light and the presence give him strength and courage to face the fear.
For now, I can hold his hand and keep encouraging him in his struggle with the darkness. There will come a time when he’ll need to walk the path alone, with no hand to hold and no flashlight to shine, trusting in the Presence and Light within. The same Presence and Light that promises to be with us wherever we go.
- Joshua 1:9
- Psalm 23:4
- Psalm 27:1
- Psalm 34:4
- Psalm 56:3-4
- Psalm 91:4-6
- Isaiah 41:13