When I was a little girl, somewhere under the age of eight, I had a paralyzing fear of fire—- particularly, of our house catching fire in the night and me being trapped inside. My bedroom was upstairs, and in the mind of a child, the stairs can easily morph from the imagination into a Secret Kids-Only Treehouse by day, then into the farthest away place possible from the safety of Mom and Dad by night. I can remember laying awake frozen in my fear trying to figure out what would happen if I woke up in the night to smoke and flames. How would I escape? I remember then having nightmares of being absorbed in the flames, and seeing a firefighter coming toward me, only to get pulled back from me and disappear. I remember waking up in a cold sweat.
I remember my Mom reading a book about ‘helping your child cope with their fears,’ and even remember the iconic graphics on the cover of the book: a snake, a spider, a lightning bolt, etc.. and of course, a flame of fire. She must’ve spent countless hours pouring over that book. Because I know she spent countless hours praying over me and with me at bedtime. But guess what. I was still a child with an irrational mind, and my fear was still there.
My great-Aunt Nickie and great-Uncle Tom happened to live next door to us during these years. They are two of the best people I have ever known in my life, and to this very day, I still can’t believe I get to call them family. (Do you have people like that? Such a blessing…) My great-Grandmother, Grandma Harriet, lived with them, too. I remember going over at their house often for dinner, games, just good ol’ family time. Many times my sister and I would fall asleep on their sofa under the coziness of a big blanket watching I Love Lucy episodes.
But one day, Uncle Tom pulled me aside and sat me on his lap. His previously gruff nature has softened over the years. He’s always been a very matter-of-fact man, and he gets right to the point, which I’ve always liked.
“Your Mom says you’re afraid of fire,” he said to me. I nodded.
“Well you know your Aunt Nickie and I are right next door here.
If there was ever a fire, I want you to know I would come through the flames and get you.
You hear me? I would come through the fire and get you out, okay?”
My Mom says I was never afraid again.
She says I slept every single night after that.
Why? I found my rest in his reassurance.
I knew that even if I had to face my greatest fear,
I would be shielded through it.
I look back on that now, and despite having a rational adult mind, can still relive the grip that fear seized me in. It was well over twenty years ago, but I can still feel it if I let myself.
That’s because fear is fear.
Fear for a child comes in forms of snakes, lightning bolts, and the thought of our house going up in flames.
As we get older, fear comes in the form of bullying, embarrassment, and failure.
And even still, as an adult, fear creeps in with break-ups, moves, miscarriage,
financial trouble, loss, depression, terrorism.
It’s so incredibly easy to feel crushed under the growing weight of it all.
To drown in it.
To be overwhelmed.
Lately, my Mom has had a major shift going on in her life, and has shared with me the anxiety it’s caused her.
But she also shared something that she felt during one of her daily times of prayer:
“Trust Me with what you don’t see and with what you can’t understand.”
… with what you “DON’T see.”
… with what you “CAN’T understand.”
There are things one-after-another in life and we simply don’t see. That we simply don’t understand.
And that maybe we just can’t.
Because maybe we just aren’t meant to.
I mean, what good would faith be if we understood everything?
Bad things happen: break-ups, miscarriages, financial struggle, terrorist attacks.
But guess what, bad things are supposed to happen.
Bad things are supposed to happen to grow our faith.
And why should we want to grow in our faith?
Because the more you depend on God with what you don’t see or understand,
the easier your life becomes. The easier you can breathe through the hard stuff,
and the hard stuff is guaranteed.
Now I’m not trying to get all preachy-preachy, so before you click off, just know that
you were already saved from fire. It’s already been done.
God is the God who saves—
He LOVES saving. He LOVES encouraging. He LOVES reassuring.
Why do you think there is an entire book about His nature in doing so?
Why do you think there’s an entire book filled with reassurance?
Why do you think there’s an entire book filled 365 times with “FEAR NOT?”
You don’t have to believe in God. You don’t have to even believe in a higher power.
You don’t have to believe in anything, and did you know that
God still sees you?
Just because you don’t see Him, or even if mentally, a great big God up in the clouds doesn’t even make sense, it doesn’t mean He’s not still there and that He doesn’t still look out for you.
It’s only the opposite.
He’s already pulled you aside, addressed your fears, and said,
“I will come for you.
I will pull you out.
I will be with you through it.
I will see you out of it.
And as many times as it takes, I will make sure you are saved.”
Whatever it is you’re facing today:
embarrassment, failure, bullying, a break-up, a miscarriage, financial stress,
a devastating loss, depression, a defiant child, whatever it is…
You will always have a way through it,
and just as He promised, if you want Him to,
He will always come for you.
You can find your rest in His reassurance.
You can know that even if you are faced with your greatest fear,
you will be shielded through it.
“… I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
“I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
This article is dedicated to my Uncle Tom, who still, to this day, remains one of my life’s heroes:
the one who saved me from the fear of the fire.