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Fear of The Dark

Rick Lorenz, also known as DiamondLRanch on the forums, sent in this wonderful illustration of how God is always with us.

The young boy busied himself in his room calmly fiddling with some of his favorite toys losing himself in his own imagination and the thoughts of fantasy that the toys spawned in his mind. Happy to be who he was, he didn’t have a bit of concern about any other part of his life. Just like any other kid like him. Moments of childhood bliss tend to push out all the other thoughts a kid has. None of the negatives matter. None of the bad memories linger. Probably because none of them were ever really that bad. Time of course changed his perspective, but he wouldn’t know that for another 25 or more years. So for now he was content to just be a kid, immersed in the world of make believe and fun. That is, until his mother entered the room in a less than genial frame of mind and reminded him that one of the things he was forgetting was his duty for the evening.

Outside the summer night had crept in and enveloped all the buildings of the small farm on which they lived. Including the one that held the pile of empty brown paper feed sacks which were used as garbage bags. Bags which the boy had been entrusted to retrieve as a part of his daily chores, and bags which now thanks to the boy’s forgetfulness, were firmly secluded in a small wooden shed on the other side of the totally darkened farm yard. He protested, but there was no relent from his mother in her insistence that he would be going out and get the bags. And even his father backed up the pronouncement with his denial of all appeals. Dark or no dark, there wasn’t anyway around the inevitable. He would have to suck it up and brave the long walk to the feed shed. Just the thought of it was enough to weaken his knees. He was certain the trip was going to be his last.

Compelled by retribution, paralyzed by monsters hidden in the murk, the boy found himself several yards outside the back porch at just the last point illuminated by the single yard light on the opposite side of the barn. From here it was total blackness. Every footstep was by faith and by feel. No visible clues. Nothing. Nothing but the certainty that a horrible and long lasting death awaited at the end of the journey at the hands of, God knows what. Evil hobos hidden in the shadows, maybe. Blood thirsty animals, the names of which were unknown because no one had ever discovered one yet. And lived. Monsters that had a taste for 8 year old kids. Why did it have to be so far from the house? No one would ever even hear his death screams.

The first few steps did nothing to build his confidence. They hurt because he held his breath in order to be able to hear better. He knew where the shed was since he had been there a thousand times, but always in the day. Still, he thought he could find it. The night noises he always heard but never cared about were everywhere. They mattered now. He felt every one of them instead of hearing them, and still he pressed on slowly. When he thought he was near, he reached out slowly and felt for the rough pealing paint of the wall and found it. About the only thing that went right that evening. He stepped forward and slid his hand along the wall to the door, then down to the latch. It was hard to open in daylight and even more difficult in the dark. It finally came apart and the resulting screech of the hinges on the swinging door nearly caused the boy to flee in terror. Somehow he stayed, and gave his heart a moment to restart. He didn’t want to be here.

The sacks were thrown carelessly in the corner and the boy didn’t like the thought of gathering up an armful without being able to see them. With a bunch under his arm there came a sudden rush of activity under the pile and now was the moment the boy thought was the end. Too scared to move or make even a feable peep he did the only thing he could do. He began to cry. He really didn’t want to be here. Mice were everywhere on the floor but he didn’t know it. He was sure it was something much bigger about to spring its attack. That was it. His utter dislike for being here overwhelmed any fear he had of his mom’s yardstick and his muscles broke the lock his brain had on them as he flew through the dark back to the house. He didn’t pause to shut the door and latch it. He didn’t bother to hit the ground more than once on the way back. He didn’t look back to identify the terror breathing down his neck. In the morning there was a trail of sacks the length of the farm yard from the house to the feed shed.

The boy survived the dash for safety and never slowed down after entering the house. He flew all the way to his room and buried himself under the covers of his bed. He sobbed hard and the tears flowed hot and unchecked. But there was no unspeakable evil quick on his heals. There was no scolding from his parents. He had done what they had asked of him and now his mom came and picked him up to hold him. She sat on the bed and comforted him with words and with her presence. It was the only thing that saved him that night. Only a parent filled with love could make the dark flee from the light and settle the fears caused by that which cannot be seen. I know all of this for a fact. I was that boy.

What am I most afraid of? I find that I am most concerned with the things that I just can’t see. Even now it can be a bit unnerving to go into the dark where its just impossible to see what I’m doing. Familiar places give me enough confidence to not worry. I can walk through my house in the middle of the night from room to room and reach out and grasp a door knob without missing because I know its right there, even though I can’t see it. I know life is a little like that too. I have found a few times when I just couldn’t see what was going on in my life and I could feel the panic want to set in. I’m still a bit insecure about where I’m going and what I’m doing at times. It’s something that still happens now and then. Just like I think most people would probably admit to. It’s hard to trust, even after years of being a Christian. We don’t want to trust in the unseen. We want it layed out before our eyes in living color so we can know it and have confidence in it. Actually, we want to be able to approve of what we see planned for us and to have the right to say if its OK or not OK. Faith, unfortunately, isn’t like that.

Instead, what we have is a safe place to run when the fear of the unknown overtakes us. I’ve crawled up into the Father’s lap a time or two myself and poured out more than a few tears. His Word has always been there. His presence never far away. I can reach out in the dark and never miss Him. He’s right were He’s supposed to be.
And the morning always comes. The light is there to chase away the fears. And sometimes, if I’ve managed to be faithful and do what He asks of me I can look back, and there will be a trail of ‘feed sacks’ to show me where I’ve been.

The path I’ve traveled thus far in life has feed sacks all over it. Decisions I’ve made, the choices to obey or not are all there for me to see. And it’s encouraging to look back and see them all. I see where God was leading me no matter what I chose. Faith takes work. Sometimes it requires you to take some steps into the dark. The spiritual journey I’m on has taught me to expect God to be there, waiting for me. It’s still not easy, and I still fight the with the kid in me that doesn’t want to do it. But I learn from each trip. And I never take one alone.