Our son Theo has begun to feel scared of the dark lately. Before going into his room alone, even in broad daylight, he'll yell down the hallway, "It too dark, Mommy!" He'll hover at the threshold until I remind him he can always just turn on the light.
Shortly after bedtime tonight my husband and I heard him crying from his room. It started as a whimper and grew into an all-out sob. When I went in to check on him, he stood crying at the edge of his crib and reaching out for me. "Somefing wake me up, Mommy!" And then, as I covered him back up with a quilt and rubbed his back, he whispered, "I don't want you leave me."
Sitting in the bright living room afterwards, I told Ethan how he'd been scared and what he had said. I thought about how safe I knew he was, in his little room in our little home. I wish there was a way that I could make him know it, make him feel it, when he wakes up in the middle of the night and can't see me there. I wish he could know what I know - that there is protection around him, that there are no dinosaurs in his room to bite him (his current concern), and that we would do anything in order to keep him safe.
I was struck suddenly that this, perhaps, is a little how God feels.
I have been so scared of being human these past few months. Gosh, it feels like treacherous territory, this being alive here on Earth. There are men in power who are so evil that they believe it is good and right to kill. There is a microorganism that has stopped our world in its tracks and continues to confound us. We cry out, 'How long, how long can this last?' And yet, cancer invades our loved ones. Earthquakes rumble deep in the ground. Hurricanes roll over it.
I guess you could say I've started to feel a little scared of the dark, too.
But fear is not indicative of reality. Though Theo wakes up afraid of terrible things in the night, I sit in the brightly-lit living room just down the hall, knowing that he is safe, despite how he feels.
Is it the same way with God? When we start to look around at the present darkness and feel surrounded by it, when we shudder at the aloneness and vulnerability of our being human, is he actually sitting in a brightly-lit room just down the hall, too?
Are we fumbling in the dark of these four corners of the Earth while God is in the next room over, knowing that we are absolutely secure and wishing that we would just remember that he's with us, even when we look around and can't see him right away?
Maybe, tonight, we imagine that God is in the living room while we sleep. The knowledge of his nearby presence is like a reassuring light leaking under the door. He is awake; he is for us; he is confident that he can keep us safe.
He's not afraid of the darkness, even if we are. He knows he can put out all our fears just by turning on the light.