At work, I park on the side of our large building and, upon leaving, usually make a stop in the seldom-used restroom near that side door. Today before leaving for lunch, I used the same restroom and flicked the light switch off as I left. Remembering I left my keys on the bench outside the stalls, I went back in without turning the light on. The door closed most of the way behind me and darkness enveloped me.
My body’s involuntary reaction startled me. My heart rate quickened, breath caught, and my imagination formed the existence of some wasn’t-there-just-a-second-ago presence. Of course, there was nothing there. I hurried out of the quiet, harmless restroom chuckling and shaking my head. The sunlight outside welcomed me into trusted safety.
I realize that my instant panic in the darkness of my workplace restroom is much like the panic we feel as other imagined things begin consuming us. It’s the plague of what-ifs.
What if my car breaks down again and I don’t have money to fix it? Panic.
What if the baby is up all night again? Panic.
What if our offer isn’t accepted on the new house? Panic.
What if I’m called on in class without the answer? Panic.
What if the cancer comes back? Panic.
I struggle with anxiety. That’s probably of no surprise to those of you who follow regularly. It comes and goes as it pleases, quickening my heart rate without a moment’s warning. Often the things I worry about are out of my control. I can tell I’m in a season of underlying anxiety because the what-ifs are flaring up.
But you know what I find most comforting, and I hope you do too? God must have had a crazy hunch we would be these sort of creatures. Because countless times in the Bible, he leaves us breadcrumbs back to his truth during moments on the dark journey through anxiety and worry. See what I mean…
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,” “Father.”
There are countless other scripture passages that remind us of God’s promise to protect us, to never leave us. Yet, just like my daughter who needs to be reminded sometimes a dozen times a night that nothing lives in her closet, God gently and tirelessly reminds us there is nothing to fear.
Oh, how thankful I am for my patient Father.