the house of God forever…

Delaney watched a scary movie at a friend’s house this past summer, and it’s been the bane of our bedtime existence ever since. Every dang night, she needs to be convinced that there are not demons in her room and that, even if she hates it, she still need to sleep with her bedroom door closed because of fire safety reasons.

Sometimes, she shows up in the middle of the night crying about it. By that point, my midnight zombification keeps me from being super insightful, so she typically just makes herself a bed on my closet floor. Because the demons in her room apparently will not come into my closet.

Poor thing. I remember scary dreams when I was a kid. It wasn’t fun. Heck, I remember having a nightmare problem as an adult and that was no fun either.

This child is such a chip off the mother block. She is like me in so many ways. Sometimes it’s endearing. Sometimes it’s scary. I love it when I see her doing things that exemplify my better qualities, but when I see her deeply overthinking something and being overly afraid of things and unable to let it go, I feel bad that I didn’t conquer that all at a much younger age and thereby probably raise her in a way that she would have been less likely to replicate those behaviors. Or maybe it’s just in her DNA.

Regardless, we’ve been working hard at our bedtime thought life. Teaching an adult to guard their thought life is tough. Teaching it to a twelve year old is really tough. It’s actually pretty hard work, ya know.

Something I learned when I was very young that has served me whole life is the twenty-third Psalm. There have been very few moments of sadness or fear or heartache or stress that it has not been able to speak directly to. Like a trinket in my back pocket, I pull it out when I’m feeling weary and alone and stressed. And like medicine, it soothes me and brings me out of the shadows and back into the light. And so, we’ve been working on her memorizing it too.

It’s interesting to me that lies exist where truth does not. I mean, it’s super cliché and all, but it’s true. I think that truth is like a flashlight. You shine it on the dark thing that has you afraid or overwhelmed, and it shows you what the thing really is. It shows its inconsistencies and its inaccuracies.

And apparently the demons that Delaney is afraid of being visited by in the middle of the night are dispelled by the truth that she is actually a child of God whom he has bid to lie down in green pastures and enjoy peace beside still waters.

My friend Jimmy showed me this really cool little exercise about the difference between truth and lie. Coincidentally, he used the twenty-third Psalm as his illustration.

Here is the twenty-third Psalm stripped of its truth. Stripped of its “flashlight”.

The Lord is not my shepherd. I lack all kinds of good things.
He offers me no peace in green pastures.
He offers me no calm beside still waters.
He does not restore my soul.
He does not lead me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and I’m terrified. Because you are not with me.
Your rod and staff are of no comfort to me.
You do not prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You do not anoint my head with oil.
My cup does not run over.
Your goodness and mercy are not for me.
I will never dwell in your house.

What a difference a little truth makes. Life can be bleak when there is no flashlight illuminating the dark corners. How grave it all seems without the certainty of presence and nearness.

Don’t get caught in a storyline where demons hide under your bed when they really aren’t there. Don’t get caught in a narrative where the truth that has indeed already been spoken is somehow turned off or forgotten or neglected.

I told Delaney about the lovely passage in Isaiah where Zion asks God if he has forgotten him. So quickly the response of truth shows up and dispels the fear. “I cannot forget you. Could a mother forget the baby she has nursed? Even if she could, I cannot. See, I have engraved your name on the palm of my hand. You are continually before me.”

Turn the lights back on. Shine it on whatever lie has you broken down and bleeding today.

Are you alone?
Are you afraid?
Are you weary?

Green pastures and still waters await.

We fell asleep last night holding hands and listening to this sweet little morsel of truth and comfort.

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