So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
This is a promise that God makes to the nation of Israel after their release from Babylon. At that point the nation of Israel had plenty to fear. They had been in exile for 70 years, they were going home to a broken city and they were surrounded by enemies. In the midst of that situation, in the midst of all that uncertainty, God tells them not to fear because he is with them.
That is a promise with which I struggled when I was younger.
I knew that God told me not to be afraid. I even sang the song “Fear Not”. But, in spite of that knowledge, my 7-year old self had a hard time believing the promise that God was with me when it was bed time. I was deathly afraid of the dark when I was younger. As a child, lying in bed, there were two nerdclinations that made me disobey God’s command not to fear.
There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation titled “Schism”. In that episode, members of the Enterprise crew are abducted by aliens from a different dimension. I hated that episode of Star Trek. I was already freaked out about alien abduction and it didn’t help to know that the problem hadn’t been solved by the 24th century. Whenever I saw anything about alien abduction during the day, the thought would stay in my mind until night. As I climbed into bed, thoughts of probing and experiments ran through my head. I never thought that I would be abducted by E.T. or Chewbacca; I always thought I would be abducted by those aliens with the small little mouths and the giant, lifeless eyes. It was those eyes that kept me up most nights – so different from my own, human, Asian eyes.
When I was younger vampires weren’t moody recluses covered in glitter. They were violent killers who had an unquenchable thirst for the blood of little boys like me. I didn’t really watch that many monster movies but vampires are so ubiquitous that I always knew about their existence. And that knowledge outweighed the knowledge of God’s presence, provision and protection. I fell asleep the same way every night when I was scared of vampires. I would get into bed and pull the covers up to my neck. I thought that if the vampires had to go to the effort of moving the blanket, they would give up and move on to my sister. This plan definitely worked better during the winter than during the summer. During warm summer evenings my bed was transformed into a sauna. If the pulled up covers didn’t deter the vampires, I’m sure the sweat and body odor would have done the trick.
I’m still a little scared of vampires and alien abduction. Thankfully, though, I have Alycia in bed to protect me now. Those fears seem ridiculous now that I look back on them. Any of our fears should seem ridiculous, though, compared to the presence, provision and protection of our great and glorious God. God tells us not to be afraid because his strength and hand are more than enough for any fears we face. That’s easy to see when we’re scared of vampires and aliens. But we need to see it even more clearly when we’re scared of cancer and unemployment.
What were you scared of when you were younger?