There are times when I lie awake at night. Though my lovely wife rests peacefully within arms’ reach, I am alone there in the dark.
Ghosts rise up then through the floor. I thought I had put these ones to rest long ago, but here they come again. Pale, tenuous spectres reach out to me with clammy hands of uncertainty. I lay there and let them come.
At first I am emotionally stunned, but as they hover closer I begin to feel the cold breath of anxiety and confusion upon my mind. The sensation provides the briefest moment of clarity and in that eternal heartbeat I have one solid realization:
“I am not afraid.”
There was a time I’d whisper that phrase over and over with quivering lips, willing myself to believe it. I was a child then, believing that fearlessness was its own virtue. In the midst of bewilderment and anxiety I’d think, “If I just have enough faith.” As if faith was the religious holy grail we all needed to drink from, in order to have eternal life. We all had some growing up to do, back in the day. I don’t judge my younger self.
I no longer worry about being afraid. It is of no concern to me whether or not I have the capacity to be fearless. When life creeps up on me and won’t let me sleep, I look to something more steadfast than my own courage.
I fix my eyes on Jesus.
What bottomless black hole has he not descended into, only to come out again? If a crucified thief can find peace while hanging in the shadow of the dying Messiah, what exactly is it that threatens to overwhelm me?
The spikes that once suspended Emmanuel between heaven and earth are by now rusted and gone. His promises aren’t. His promises walked out of the tomb with him three days later, while the lies of the Enemy stayed behind with the neatly folded grave clothes.
There are nights when I lay my head on a pillow of uncertainty, and mornings that illuminate the fact that I am in control of very little. That’s okay, because I am a ward of the Grave Tamer.
A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 New International Version (NIV)