We recently were exploring a local park as a family, and as we came across a trail leading into a wooded area we knew we had to check it out. My husband and I moved towards the sign that detailed the hiking path, but behind me, I heard my 5-year-old daughter speak quietly and hesitantly.
In a small voice, she uttered, “I don’t like the woods.”
I’m not sure how you couldn’t like woods, but knowing my middle child [as] I did, it made sense. After all, they were dark, with little sunshine making it through the tree cover. You couldn’t see where they ended, and as the maze of multiple trees stood in rows in the distance, thoughts of getting lost could come easily to her little mind. She was my tender, easily frightened child. She didn’t like the thought of not knowing where she was, but even worse was her fear of being left all alone. So as we walked towards the trailhead and accompanying signage despite her raised concerns, she worried for the worst. We were going forward, she was staying back, and suddenly she began to wail.
“Don’t leave me,” she cried in anguish!
And as I turned back towards her I realized she was gasping in fear, hiccuping through a torrent of scared tears, her face red and wet. That part of me that always wanted to flip out when she fell apart rolled its eyes in disbelief. Irrational fear. That’s what she was experiencing! But as I came towards her I scooped her up in compassion rather than frustration. I held her tiny frame tightly against my body, I wiped the tears from her cheeks, kissed her forehead, and offered words of comfort.
As she began to calm cradled against me I asked her a question with an obvious answer.
“Have we ever left you?” I asked.
“No,” she muttered softly.
“So why would we start now?” I reasoned. “I told you we were just looking at the sign.”
“I didn’t hear you say that,” she admitted.
“That’s because,” I answered, “you were afraid. And being afraid makes you not be able to hear the truth.”
Those were the two words God spoke to my spirit as I looked at my 5-year-old daughter’s tear-stained face. I realized this same sort of thing happened to us all at one time or another. We let our fear, even sometimes irrational, make us forget the truth. God never left us. We didn’t have to lose hope and think we would become lost. He was always present to scoop us up and offer His comfort when our hearts became frightened at the dark surroundings.
What happens is that when you’re faced with fear it’s like a loud buzz that fills your ears, and in all that noise you can’t hear the steady voice of truth that always speaks softly to our spirit. We see the unknown crowd-in like towering trees in an overwhelming forest, and it makes us unable to see anything but our own fright and uncertainty. My hope would be that in our moments of fear, when we’re faced with giants, we’ll work past the drone in our ears, past the lies of this world, and we will be able to hear the truth that we know without a shadow of doubt within our hearts.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”