TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY
You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies!
These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song? “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.
As a child, when I was scared at night, I would call out to Mum. Sometimes it took a while to get the courage to do that – after all, I didn’t want to alert the robber in the hall that I was awake! But, despite my beating heart, somehow I also knew deep down that there really wasn’t a robber in the hallway, and that when I called, Mum would come, settle me, and then turn on the bathroom light. This light shone into the hallway, and into my bedroom. It’s amazing how comforting light is.
I recently preached on fear and shared three biblical strategies for facing fear – truth, faith and hope.
One thing I’ve discovered in my own life is a tendency to suppress fear. To lock it away in a padlocked cupboard and make it a no-go zone. I don’t do it intentionally – it’s more a subconscious, protective manoeuvre when the fear, like the boogieman in the Veggie Tales song, is big and hairy and casting shadows in my life. I’ve also discovered that this is not the healthiest way to deal with fear!
Just like the bathroom light brought comfort and truth to my childhood night-time fears, the truth of God’s Word can bring light and comfort to our fears.
But what does this actually look like in our lives? How does it play out? For me, it takes intentionality. Let’s consider a practical and hypothetical example of fear: “I might lose my job”. If I was feeling fearful of losing my job, it’s easy to shove that fear away into that padlocked cupboard. However, if you’re anything like me, it doesn’t go away. It has a tendency to grumble and growl and grow. It calls out things – “this would be a terrible thing”, “it will ruin you financially”, “life as you know it will be over”, “you’re a failure”, “how will you tell people?”, “you’re going to end up on the streets”, “what will people think?”. We keep suppressing it, thinking if we ignore it that it will go away, but the growling and grumbling and growing leaves us with a knot in our stomach and tension in our mind.
But… what if instead of locking it away, we exposed it with the truth of God’s Word. If we actually brought it out and faced it?
What if I really do lose my job? There’s much I may not know, but I can know the following:
What is a surprise or unexpected or unknown to me is not a surprise, unexpected or unknown to God. He already knows everything that will happen to me.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
I can trust that my Heavenly Father knows the needs I have and will provide and care for me.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Losing my job may be really hard, but God will be with me to help me. I’m not alone.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Even if the worst happens, God is able to work this for good in my life.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
One of the many occasions I have done this was when we were in a situation of financial difficulty many years ago. We’d just received the phone bill, and I had such a sick feeling of fear that we wouldn’t be able to pay it. It was really worrying me. Then I thought, “so what?” What if we can’t pay our bill and they disconnect our phones? We aren’t going to die if we don’t have phones. It will be inconvenient, but we’ll get by. Even if things financially get worse and we lose our home, it’s highly unlikely we’ll end up on the streets or hungry or without clothes. We have friends and family that would care for us. We live in a country with social services. We have each other. God has always made a way, always provided for us, and there were no reasons to doubt He would continue to do so. He is faithful! As I faced it with truth, I realised it wasn’t something to be so worried about and I was able to trust God!
And we paid our phone bill, for the record. God provided.
In the face of fear and difficulty, I like to pause and pray, “Holy Spirit, what would you say to me now? Please give me a verse from your Word I can hang onto.”
Often the Holy Spirit graciously pre-empts me! I’m feeling that knot of fear or stress, and the Holy Spirit brings a verse or passage of God’s Word to mind. Perhaps it’s through my daily Bible reading, or maybe a friend sends me a Scripture.
Many times the Holy Spirit reminds me of His faithfulness in the past. “God of Camembert cheese”, “God of dining room chairs” and ”God of the backpack” are specific stories of God’s grace and personal care that I hang onto. (I’m happy to share those stories with you – just ask me). God has never failed, and God is not going to drop the ball in the first time of all eternity with me!
But honestly? Sometimes I just forget and go too far down the road of worry and fear before I realise what I’ve done. I need to come back and ask for forgiveness for not trusting God, for forgetting His faithfulness, His character, His Father heart, His care. Then I remind myself of truth. And remind myself again. And remind myself again. And remind myself again. I’m going to be reminding myself for the rest of my life.
Trusting God, shining the truth of God’s Word on my fear, doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings, or my circumstances instantly change. But those feelings of fear or worry or anxiety alert me to the invitation to come to God. They alert me of the choice laid before me – the path of fear and my own imagination and negativity, or the path of truth, faith and hope. They remind me that God is with me, and I don’t have to face life alone. That I can come to God. That in the midst of my circumstances I can know a peace that surpasses understanding. That I serve a good God who only ultimately writes good stories.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
What a blessing that God, in His gracious provision, has gifted us with such access to His Word, and that we have the Holy Spirit to make it alive in our hearts.
May God bless you abundantly.
Your Care Team Pastor,
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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