Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turn off the lights.

It doesn't happen all that often, but every once in awhile, about 15 minutes after the kids bedtime I'll get a quiet knock on my door.

My niece enters, with teary eyes, and says "I think you need to tell me that verse again."

It's the verse I've told her for nearly 12 years now... "God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of sound mind." Practically every time it comes up it's bedtime. The night has crept in and she realizes how dark her room is - despite the fact that a huge strand of Christmas lights serve as her nightlight.

In the last years, the lecture has almost become script. I repeat the verse, and then tell her that trusting in God is proved most truly in the dark. You say you trust Him, but when the lights are out and you're afraid of the dark, that's when you have to tell your spirit that you do indeed trust in God and you will not be paralyzed by fear. You will not lose sleep with fear. You will not lie wide awake in fear. You will close your eyes and simply TRUST the way you say you do when it's light outside.

And after quoting that mantra so often to her I've wondered how many adults do the same. We allow fears in our lives, even simple ones like fear of the dark, fear of heights, fear of crowds, fear of failure. And when I say we "allow" them, I go so far as to say we build those fears a little home in our lives so they can be comfortable and take up permanent residence. We accept that as humans, we have fears... it's normal, healthy, and while unpleasant and a hindrance to our daily lives - we have every right to be afraid.

"You don't know what I've been through..."
"If you'd lived through what I'd lived through you'd understand..."
"You just don't understand..."
"It's just something that makes me feel better..."
"I NEED to..."
"I just can't do it any other way..."

But that's a lie. It's a comfortable lie because it's hard to turn the lights out and say you aren't afraid, that you really do trust God whether the lights are on or off. That your security, your sense of safety doesn't come from filaments in a glass casing, but from God Himself.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - faith is proactive. It's a inner quality but without the action it's dead according to the Bible. You say you have faith, SHOW me your faith. I don't want the typical religion that reminds you to trust in God but never requires you to give up your security blankets, your night lights, your fears. SHOW me your faith.

I hope you don't think - even for a moment - that I believe turning out the lights and trusting God in the dark is easy right off the bat. I think the very act of turning off the lights is the most difficult thing you can do. It means you've stopped trusting in your ability to take care of yourself, and here - here in the dark - everything is just going to be in Gods hands.

And amazingly enough, when the one who actually HAS given you the spirit of fear realizes that he can't defeat you with your fear you'll probably find that fear dissolves as he moves on to find other ways to hurt you, scar you, prevent you from trusting God.

I give this lecture to my niece on those nights because I don't want her to be chained to fears of any shape. I want her to know that when you're scared to pieces you are not alone and that there is a great big God who loves you more than you can imagine. I want her to live her life unencumbered from those chains that leave her tending to her fears rather than living life exactly as God would have her - filled with power, love, and a perfectly sound mind. A sound mind doesn't picture monsters in the dark. A fearful one does.

I don't know what monsters you imagine in the darkness, but I beg of you, whoever you are, to turn off the lights and beg God to handle it.

I don't make solid statements like this too often but I believe, firmly, that you will never be all that God would have you to be when you allow yourself to cater to your fears. No matter how many victories you enjoy, no matter how wise and spiritual you become, you will never know true liberty until you're willing to sit in the dark and trust God.

You know where your light switch is. When you lie in the dark afraid, tears rolling down your cheeks as imaginary monsters come to attack you - remember what Aunt Net said: "God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind."

Turn off the light.
I beg you. Turn off the light.

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